Step 4: Waxing


The purpose of wax is simply to protect the shine. If your paint is in perfect shape, this might be all you need to do after a wash.

Think of wax as a “sacrificial coating.” Like the clearcoat itself, it is one more layer to protect the paint. By maintaining a good layer of wax, you’ll help prevent dirt and contaminants from bonding to the surface, so besides your paint looking shiny, you'll find that it will be much easier to keep clean.

Simply waxing your car a couple of times a year will go a long way to protecting its finish. But as rewarding as it is, adding some of the extra previous steps will greatly enhance the results.

So many brands and types!


There are literally hundreds of brands and types of waxes out there, and it’s beyond my ability to offer an analysis. I routinely use several depending on which car I’m cleaning, my goal - and my mood.

Wax comes as liquid, paste or spray. All else being equal, I don’t think one is better than the other. It’s more a matter of personal preference as to which one you like using. As mentioned above, some waxes are actually a “cleaner/wax”. There is also “pure” wax which would be used on paint that is perfect.

Sometimes I’ll use Meguiar’s NXT liquid (if you do, use it very sparingly and let it sit for a minimum of 30 minutes); and sometimes I’ll use Meguiar’s Gold Class paste-wax – I like the feel and smell. I rarely use spray. I find it a bit messy and hard to apply evenly, however it is much quicker.

Remove wax with a microfiber cloth.

After the wax, you will probably need to give your vehicle the once-over and clean up any polish or wax residue that may be left over. (More information about the "details" can be found in "Step 6 - Other Areas.")

Once again, as I’ve mentioned before, even if you’re not the kind of person who normally reads the directions, it’s important to read the instructions on car care products. Don’t presume!

One question I can’t answer is, “How many times a year should I wax?” There are lots of factors. If you enjoy waxing your vehicle, than wax as many times as you like – fortunately, if you do it properly, you can’t wax too much. In my opinion, the absolute minimum is once a year, but that probably isn’t enough unless your vehicle is stored indoors, and not driven very much. If you live in harsher environments, you’ll need to wax more often to keep up the protection.