Car wax seems to be a mystery to a lot of car owners, regardless whether the car in question is newer or older. If you’re asking whether you really need car wax, the simple and plain answer is yes, you really do. In the olden days, cars used to have extremely thin paint which got easily damaged by the minutest of scratches. Today, modern paint jobs, as well as wax formulas, have progressed massively. They provide twice or three times the protection compared to even the best car wax from just 20 years ago.
Best Car Wax Table
|Car wax||Wax type|
|Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid Car Wax||Liquid wax|
|P21S 12700W Car Wax||Surprisingly fluid paste wax|
|Meguiar’s G17516 Ultimate Quick Car Wax||Quick wax|
|Chemical Guys WAC Butter Wet Car Wax||Quick wax|
|Aero Cosmetics Waterless Car Wash Kit||All-in-one pack|
Car wax isn’t there just to make the paint look shiny and fresh, however. If you imagine the car’s paint as the first layer, and the factory clear coat on top of that as the second, you’ll see why adding more layers of wax on top of that is a good idea. High-quality wax will protect the car’s paint and its clear coat for months on end, keeping that shiny finish beneath all the surface scratches and chips embedded in the actual wax layer itself, and not the paint.
How often should you wax your car?
It is important to note that wax doesn’t last forever. Just like paint, it can get damaged and/or wear off, but the good thing is it doesn’t require a paint job. You simply have to reapply a fresh layer on top and you’re good to go. You can wax your car up to 4 times a year, with the general consensus being you should not exceed that figure without reason. At the very least, if you can manage to wax the car 2 times per year, the paint will likely remain protected at all times.
Different types of car wax
There are a couple different forms of wax currently on the market, each with slightly different applications and purposes. First, there’s paste wax. It’s the oldest form of car wax. The texture is extremely dense, hence the name paste. Applying it takes some effort, but the effects are well worth it since it tends to last longer. Liquid wax, on the other hand, offers exactly what the name suggests. Its texture is a lot more liquid, almost similar to water. People prefer it because it’s easier to apply, both by hand and machine.
Thirdly, there’s spray wax. Think of it as a temporary, less effective alternative to both the liquid and paste waxes. It’s good for a quick job when the wax on the car needs some boost. Lastly, there’s something called colored wax, but we suggest avoiding it. The idea is that it offers pigmented wax, matched to your car’s specific color, in an effort to conceal scratches, chips and what not, but in the end, it is the worst of the bunch. Applying colored wax to a clear coat is useless, it does nothing, and even those that supposedly “work” offer short-lasting effects.
We decided to research the market and find out which are the best waxing compounds you can currently buy. Here’s what we found.
Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid Car Wax
Meguiar, for those unfamiliar with the brand, is one of the premium manufacturers when it comes to car cosmetics. Their Ultimate Liquid Wax solution is an alternative to the paste solution they offer with the same name. The liquid compound seems to be more popular with owners, mostly because of the long-lasting effect if offers, but also because of the ease of application. This car wax boasts Meguiar’s ThinFilm technology, i.e. applying and removing the wax is made super easy thanks to a conformable compound.
It’s suitable for any paint type, clear coat and finish, enhancing the color as well as the depth of the paint. To apply it, all you have to do is wash the car and ensure it’s not contaminated with any dust or debris articles, perhaps even clay the car if necessary, and just proceed to apply the wax from there on. One thing we should point out is that you should be careful when applying the wax. You don’t have to apply it too heavily for it to stick. Once it dries, it will adhere to the surface no matter what.
P21S 12700W Car Wax
Although the packaging, just like the name, doesn’t leave a big impression, the wax itself more than makes up for it. If you want the best car wax on the market, the P21S solution is the perfect fit for you. It offers an amazingly deep shine, much stronger than all comparable products on the market, without leaving white stains or powdering. Customers describe the finish as a “candy-coat” shine, and it smells like candy too. Applying it is as easy as removing it, but don’t let it dry for too long. Again, you want to be generous when applying but not too hard. Although it’s technically a paste compound, it feels much more fluid than that, it’s not just a chunk of wax.
What’s more, because it’s carnauba wax, it’s longer lasting than non-carnauba based products. Carnauba has a high melting point (187 degrees F), is harder than concrete and nearly insoluble in water. Add all that together and you have what is probably the best car wax on the market. Its only downside is that it tends to be a bit more expensive than the other waxes, but it’s definitely worth it in our book. Especially considering that it will likely stay on longer anyways.
Meguiar’s G17516 Ultimate Quick Car Wax
Another Meguiar product, although this one is quick wax. We already explained the differences between paste, liquid and quick wax, but we feel like we should further elaborate it. See, unlike liquid and paste wax, quick wax is made to be applied almost instantly with immediate results. Most of the quick wax products come in a spray bottle, making applying them super easy, and Meguiar’s wax is no different. It uses their Hydrophobic Polymer Technology which makes the paint stand out and come alive, with that desired wet-look shine we’re all after. Using quick wax is so easy you could literally do the entire car in the same time it would take you to finish off a single panel with paste wax. It can be applied in direct sunlight and even on hot surfaces.
Now granted, one drawback of quick wax, for every product out there not just Meguiar’s Ultimate, is the fact that it doesn’t last as long as other, more resistant waxes. A lot of the wax will come off within the next couple of car washes, and if it rains in your area, you’re probably better off sticking with the usual stuff. If, however, you live in a warmer environment where the quick wax can stay on for longer, we definitely recommend you try it. The best part about it is that even if it does come off fairly quickly, you can reapply a new layer within minutes.
Chemical Guys WAC Butter Wet Car Wax
Chemical Guys is a relatively unknown manufacturer on the market, but it’s also one of the better ones. Just like the P21S compound, it too uses a 100-percent carnauba-based formula. The wax itself works wonders when applied properly. You can apply it by hand should you choose to do so, but bear in mind that you’ll need to really work it into the surface to get the most of it. Otherwise, it will smudge and you definitely don’t want that. Using a buffer will help a lot, especially if you intend on covering the entire car.
Compared to the P21S wax however, it doesn’t last nearly as long. But, you can look at it this way: you’re getting twice the amount of wax from Chemical Guys while it is usually cheaper than one P21S container. So it’s quite less expensive, but it’s definitely that much worse. Would we recommend it over the P21S? If you are looking for the best car wax on a budget, yes. It’s 85% as good and quite a bit cheaper.
Aero Cosmetics Waterless Car Wash Kit
Last but not least, we have the Wash Wax All product from Aero Cosmetics. We’ll start off by saying that if you want an all in one pack, this is it. Included in the kit is a 1-gallon bottle, one 16 oz. spray and a mini bug scrubber complete with 4 microfiber towels. That’s right, you read that correctly: a full gallon of the stuff. Forget about saving a few bucks, buying the Aero Cosmetics wax will save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.
But is it as good as the other products? The short answer to that question is yes. It’s not just good, but brilliant at what it was designed to do. As the name suggests, it’s a waterless product, so you don’t need to wash the car beforehand. The compound itself scrubs any residue off. Honestly, we found that it’s best to wash the car the day before applying the wax, as although the wax itself does a great job, when applied to a relatively clean surface, it does wonders. It’s perfect for winter and fall when you don’t get a chance to wash your car that often.
If you’re looking for more cleaning oriented products rather than just wax, check out our best motorcycle cleaner review. There isn’t much difference between car and motorcycle cleaning products, so if you want to clean your car before waxing it, have a look at our motorcycle cleaner article!