The age old water beading test is an easy way to check this. Spray your car with a hose and take a close look at how the water behaves on the surface. If it beads up nicely, then your last wax job is still hanging in there. If the water doesn’t bead at all and forms large “sheets” on the surface, it’s time for a wax.
Thorough cleaning and waxing a vehicle will take the average DIY’er a full afternoon, but we have a full staff of Pro Detailers at Sunset North Car Wash who know how to make your ride look nearly new again!
Why wax your car?
Some people see waxing their car as something special they do once in a while. The truth of the matter is that routinely waxing your car is as important to the condition of the exterior as an oil change is to the motor. Routine waxing will keep your car looking great and it will preserve the resale value. Waxing is not just a cosmetic benefit because it protects the paint and prevents oxidation that can destroy the resale value.
How often should you wax your car?
Like most things in life “as often as necessary, but no more than that.” The reality is that how long the wax lasts depends on the exposure the car gets. A car parked in a garage could last for a year or more but normal use exposes the paint surface to bird droppings, wind, tree sap, and locally we have the salt air to deal with. If the car is parked outdoors even in our mild climate most wax will start breaking down in less than 6 months. Consult your owner’s manual for recommendations on your specific vehicle.
Deep Dive Into Approaches and Products
We’d argue few jobs on your car are as satisfying as giving it a good wax. It takes a little time and effort, but doesn’t anything worthwhile? And when you’re done you can step back and admire the rich, lustrous shine you’ve given your ride.
Trouble is, a good wax doesn’t last. After a few weeks or months the shine fades and it’s time to roll up your sleeves and do it again. That might not bother you if you have the luxury of ample free time, but many of us have other things we’d like to do. So here’s the question, or more accurately, two questions: how often should you wax your car, and what can you do to increase that interval?
Waxing is an important part of car care, here’s why. Your car has a protective layer of clear coat over the paint. When the car is outdoors that clear coat is under attack. UV rays in sunlight, car wash detergents, sulfur dioxide from power plants and plain old tree sap and bird droppings are all etching it away.
Wax adds a layer, essentially a sacrificial layer, to the clear coat. This not only makes your car look good but extends the life of the paint and improves resale value. Neglect to wax and not only will your car’s paint job suffer, but so too could your pocketbook.
How Often Should You Wax Your Car?
There’s a simple answer to this: wax when, or preferably just before, the last coating has worn off. Now admittedly, that doesn’t let you circle a date on the calendar or put a reminder in your phone, so let’s drill down a little deeper.
First, understand that wax will wear off. You’re going to wash the car and each time that’s going to remove a little. It will likely get rained on, and UV and atmospheric chemicals will all have an oxidizing effect. (Remember how we called wax a sacrificial layer? It has to suffer to protect the clear coat.)
So how do you know when it’s wearing thin? Water beading, or lack thereof, is the most obvious sign. It’s all to do with surface tension and surface energy, but basically, wax makes water bead up. No beading equals no wax.
Another method is just to run your fingers over the paintwork, (being careful to keep rings well away!) A waxed surface will feel very smooth to the touch, one that’s without wax offers more sliding friction.
So, back to how often often should you wax your car? It depends on local factors like weather as well as how much time your car is out of the garage. In general though, most waxes are gone after 8 to 12 weeks. In other words, you’ll be waxing every quarter, or every season as some detailers like to say.
5 types of car wax. Text underneath: Car Wax Types and Durability.
The durability of a wax coat does depend on what type was applied. You’re probably aware there are different formats and formulations. The main terms you’ll see on the shelves and various websites are:
• Carnauba wax
Let’s go through what each is, and how long it’s going to last.
A liquid wax is one you pour from a bottle onto your application cloth. If it’s very thin you’ll be able to spray it directly onto the paintwork. Liquid waxes are composed mainly of synthetic polymers that protect against UV and all that other nasty stuff. They generally dry fast so apply to just a small area and buff off quickly.
Liquids thin enough to spray generally yield a thin coating. They’ll make the paint shine but most won’t last very long, although that is formulation-related.
Pastes are the traditional wax formulation. They’re thick so you work by applying a little, rubbing it over a small area, and then buffing away. Pastes tend to be hard, give good protection, and last perhaps as long as 12 weeks, but you’ll spend a lot of time on the wax job.
Polymer Based Wax
A polymer wax is made from various chemicals combined as a wax alternative, a synthetic wax if you like. There are as many formulations as there are brands, if not more. Remember though that every manufacturer is trying to hit a price point, and each polymer formulation is developed with that in mind. Which is a diplomatic way of saying, you get what you pay for.
This is the actual liquid, or paste, that forms the coating over your clear coat. The sealant may be all polymer or it could be a blend of polymer and carnauba wax. Sealants can be long lasting with good UV and detergent protection, but this does depend on formulation.
This the wax all those old-school guys use. Unlike polymer, it’s a natural material. In fact it’s basically palm tree oil from Brazil. Traditionally it’s used as a paste, although some sealants and liquids will blend in an amount of carnauba. (Likely a small amount, just so they can put the word on the packaging.)
Carnauba gives a really deep shine and is especially effective on dark colors. However, applying it is hard work and a slow process because you can only work on a small area at a time. A layer of carnauba generally doesn’t last very long. That might be okay if the car is mostly garaged but on a daily driver you’ll be waxing rather too frequently.
So, now you know lots about car waxes and sealants, but you haven’t yet had a good answer to your question of how often should you wax your car. Or more specifically, we haven’t shared which product will give you the longest intervals between waxing. Let’s take care of that now.
The Secret to Waxing Less Often
We hinted at this above, but now we’ll come out and say it: what you want is a wax-synthetic polymer hybrid sealant. The polymers should be formulated for UV and detergent resistance while the wax is going to give a really lustrous shine.
In addition, despite commenting that a spray leaves only a thin coating, that needn’t compromise life if it’s a very hard-wearing coating.
So where will you find such a hybrid wax and sealant? May we suggest Mirror Shine?
Mirror Shine combines a spray wax with a synthetic polymer formulated not just for protection but for adhesion to the clear coat. This ensures an incredible shine plus excellent protection that lasts longer than just about any other waxing product. Protection that will keep things like grime, water spots, and tree sap less likely to stick. Application is easy and quick! You just need a simple microfiber towel to buff in and buff out, no elbow grease needed.
Waxing isn’t just about making your car look as good as possible. In fact we might even argue that’s secondary to protecting the paint. It just happens that with the right product the two go hand-in-hand.
Car detailing and waxing can be a laborious job. Sometimes the weather won’t cooperate, making it a challenge to find a good time to do it. So while it’s immensely satisfying to see your car freshly waxed it’s also really helpful if that coating will last more than two or three months.
The answer is to use the right product, one that will stay on the paint for up to six months. That product we’d suggest is Mirror Shine. Put it to the test, and when folks ask how often you wax your car, with hand-on-heart you can tell them you only do it twice a year.