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Wax has always been the main choice if you wanted to protect your vehicle, however in recent years sealants and ceramic coatings have gotten a lot more attention due to their greater durability and longevity. Although car waxes don’t last as long, they do offer something that the other protectants don’t, and that is a beautiful finish that enhances color and produces a look that is rich in depth. Whenever you hear about getting that showroom shine, it is usually wax that makes this possible.
Although traditionally waxes were offered in paste form, many are now offered in a liquid form as well. Paste waxes are packaged in a tin can where you’d dip your applicator pad into the can and then apply to the car’s paint. Alternatively, the liquid form of car wax is usually packaged in a bottle where the liquid wax can be squeezed out onto the applicator pad which is to be applied to the car’s paint.
In addition to the application differences between paste and liquid waxes, there are some differences physical differences between the two types of waxes. The main differences lies with its composition: liquid waxes are obviously more viscous than paste waxes. In order to produce a more fluid product, liquid waxes use more solvents and less physical wax to aid in the application. Meanwhile, paste waxes will normally include more wax content than their liquid counterparts. In general, paste waxes will provide better protection due to the higher concentration of product, meanwhile the liquid version will provide ease-of-application.
Below is a list of car waxes that I’ve ranked in order of most recommended by auto detailers and detailing enthusiasts in various car detailing forums. This is a subjective list obviously, but it is what I believe to be a credible list of the best car waxes. These recommendations come from those who have used and compared a variety of different products. I did not include spray waxes as they are even further diluted formulas that do not offer the same kind of durability as paste and liquid waxes.
Best Car Wax List
- Collinite 845 Insulator Wax
- Pinnacle Natural Brilliance Souveran Paste Wax / Liquid Wax
- Poorboy’s World Nattys Paste Wax – Blue
- P21S Carnauba Wax
- Meguiar’s M26 Hi-Tech Yellow Paste Wax / Liquid Wax
- Dodo Juice Supernatural Wax
- Poorboy’s World Natty’s Paste Wax – Red
- Collinite 915 Marque D’Elegance Auto Wax
- Collinite 476S Super Double Coat Auto Wax
- 3D Poxy Montan Car Wax
Details on Each Car Wax
Long-term durability, easy to apply, nice wet gloss. This wax does harden up when stored, but simply sitting the bottle in some hot or warm water for a minute or two will change the consistency into liquid. This makes for a pleasurable experience for applying over paint due to its smooth application. Over-applying this makes it slightly difficult to remove once it hardens, so you should spread this product out thin. Great value.
Known as the best wax you can use black or dark-colored paint. Produces brilliant depth and richness. The paste version has more carnauba than its liquid wax counterpart and is the go-to wax for getting that show-car look. Doesn’t last as long as other waxes, but it will probably give the best looking result. Expensive, but should last you about 30 applications.
Liquid version of the highly-regarded paste wax version. Offers an easy-to-apply liquid form with better durability, but not as much richness as the paste wax. Has a very nice gloss to it especially when applied on lighter-colored paint. Expensive.
Affordable and easy-to-use. Helps a bit with filling in imperfections especially on dark-colored paint. Very good quality wax that can compete with some of the best ones out there. Container is a bit cheap and doesn’t seal as well as other paste wax containers.
High quality 100% carnauba content paste wax that goes on like butter. Provides a wet, deep shine. Product doesn’t last as long as other waxes. Good clarity for metallic paints where it helps make the metallic flakes pop.
A hybrid-type carnauba wax that offers good reflectivity when applied. Dries to a clear haze, good longevity. Works great when applying by hand, but slightly difficult to remove when dried.
Liquid version of M26 paste above, goes on a bit easier than the paste wax. Nice application with a dual-action polisher. Easier to remove than the paste version.
Good clarity and depth. Higher carnauba content and is also harder to apply because of this. Product needs to be applied thin, otherwise it will be harder to remove. Good durability compared to other waxes.
Good slickness. Works better for brighter-colored paints. Same cheap and poorly sealed container like Natty’s Blue. The wax itself is an excellent quality wax that is comparable to some of the best out there.
Highest concentration of carnauba out of the Collinite waxes, gives the warmest shine for darker-toned vehicles. Easier to apply than Collinite 476S, not as easy to apply as Collinite 845. Fills some small imperfections in paint.
The most durable wax of the Collinite waxes. More difficult to apply and hard to remove if left to dry for too long. Because of this, applying thinly and wiping away in a timely manner will help ease the process of application.
A hybrid montan wax that offers good durability and value. Offers a nice wet gloss; application and wipe-off is easy. Good bang for the buck.
Car Wax FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- Which car wax gives the best shine?
- What is the best wax for a black car?
- What’s the difference between a traditional wax and a spray wax?
- How long does car wax last? What are the longest lasting waxes?
- How does car wax compare with paint sealants and ceramic coatings?
- Does car wax ever go bad?
- Can car wax remove scratches?
- When do you wax a car after washing it?
- Does car wax have UV protection?
Which car wax gives the best shine?
Some car waxes may offer more gloss/shine than others. It is probably best to look over various product reviews and photos for any particular product to get anecdotal experience from folks who have used these products before. In my opinion, using most car waxes will usually provide you with some substantial level of shine as that is a characteristic that is inherent in its formula; wax is a naturally glossy product.
The most important factor for producing the best gloss or shine on your car is the preparation prior to waxing. Applying wax to an unprepped or imperfect paint surface will still offer shine, but just not as much as if it were properly prepped. In fact, it may instead highlight any imperfections such as scratches, marring, and holograms. The best thing you can do is to perform a paint correction with compound/polish prior to waxing your vehicle.
Finally, I’d like to point out that there is one particular wax that does seem to be recommended over and over again for the absolute best shine. That wax is the paste version of Pinnacle Natural Brilliance Souveran. This product seems to provide the most desirable characteristics of gloss, depth, and brilliance according to many car detailers and detailing enthusiasts alike.
What is the best wax for a black car?
The answer to this question is similar to the previous one. Application of a wax on a black car will be essentially be the same thing as on a non-black car. Since virtually all vehicles these days use a clear coat on top of the car’s paint, it doesn’t really matter what the paint color is, as the wax is being applied over the clear coat and not the paint.
Since black cars will show imperfections much more easily than lighter-colored vehicles, the most important thing you can do for your black car is the prep work. This means getting as many imperfections out of your car’s paint before applying wax via paint correction and ding/dent removal. After this, application of a quality wax will offer an excellent gloss and brilliance to your black paint.
One of the best car waxes for shine (previous question), is also praised for use on cars with black paint. Again, the paste version of Pinnacle Natural Brilliance Souveran is regarded highly for its gloss, depth, and brilliance, which is also desirable for black cars. Another wax that is occasionally recommended for black cars is Blackfire BlackICE Paste Wax. In the end, I believe the good prep work before wax will always be more important than which wax you use if you don’t do the prep work on your black car.
What’s the difference between a traditional wax and spray wax?
Car wax has traditionally been offered in a paste form where it is packaged in a tin can. The user would then use an applicator pad, dip it into the tin can to take some product out, then apply it to the vehicle’s paint. Later, liquid waxes would be offered which have less wax product and more solvent or emulsifiers to ease the application process. I would consider paste and liquid waxes as a traditional wax. Although liquid waxes slightly less wax product than pastes, they still do offer a comparable amount of protection and longevity.
Meanwhile, spray waxes tend to be even further “diluted” as the product needs to be viscous enough to be able to be sprayed through the sprayer mechanism on the spray bottle. Since spray waxes will offer less of a concentrated product, it also offers less protection and longevity. You might hear that spray waxes are no substitute for traditional car waxes and they are only good as a top-off wax, meaning it is used as a topical coat to prolong the life of an already applied traditional wax. Spray wax that is applied as a standalone LSP (last step product) will see minimal protection and a much shorter lifespan than a traditional wax.
How long does car wax last? What are the longest lasting waxes?
How long a car wax lasts on a vehicle can depend on a variety of factors: what type of car wax was applied, what environmental conditions the car experiences, is the car regularly garaged or not, was the vehicle properly prepped prior to waxing? The short answer to the question of how long car wax lasts is somewhere between 4-8 weeks. Car wax is the least protective out of the three main types of LSP’s. Ceramic coating usually offer the greatest amount of protection, paint sealants offer a substantial amount of protection, and then waxes will offer the least amount of protection of the three.
However, there is one thing that waxes offer that paint sealants and ceramic coatings don’t, and that is the deep warmth and luster that comes from the wax material. This is why some people will apply a paint sealant, and then a carnauba wax on top. This offers substantial protection underneath, but a beautiful carnauba look on top.
As for longest-lasting waxes, the answer will be based on two more specific questions:
- Are you only interested in true natural waxes and want to know what the longest lasting wax is? If so, many detailers will say that Collinite 476S Super Double Coat Auto Wax is the longest lasting paste wax out there. Alternatively, you can go with the liquid version of the Collinite 476S which is the Collinite 845 Insulator Wax for excellent longevity.
- Or do you not care whether you use a natural or synthetic wax (a.k.a. paint sealant) and want to know what is the longest lasting wax is? If this is the case, you’re better off going with a paint sealant as they typically last 2-3 times as long as natural wax. The most durable paint sealants are Finish Kare Paste Wax (BWM 1000P), Klasse High Gloss Sealant, Wolfgang WG-5500 Deep Gloss Paint Sealant.
How does car wax compare with paint sealants and ceramic coatings?
Car wax is a natural wax product that is usually made of carnauba wax, montan wax, or similar wax that provides a desirable warmth or glow to the car’s paint. Car waxes offer the least longevity out of all the LSP’s. Paint sealants are synthetic man-made waxes that offer a longer lifespan than their natural wax counterparts. Finally, a ceramic coating is a very thin coating of silicon dioxide that offers a more durable and even longer lasting product over paint sealants and waxes.
Does car wax ever go bad?
Car wax can “go bad” after an extended period of time depending on its exposure to several things: extreme temperatures, UV-exposure, and exposure to air. If you keep wax sealed in its container and kept away from extreme heat/cold and exposure to the sun, they can potentially last for several years or longer. In fact, the paste waxes that come in tin cans seem to last longer than their liquid counterparts with some detailers’ accounts of still using them after 5, 10, or even 20+ years. Basically, keep your wax sealed and away from the elements, and it should last as long as you own it.
Can car wax remove scratches?
Car wax on its own does not remove scratches, as it is not intended to abrade the clear coat of the vehicle as a polish or a compound would do. Polishing, compounding, or wet-sanding is a step in the process of paint correction that will apply an even application of micro-scratches that will work down the clear coat so that the original scratches “disappear”. Paint correction is the only way to remove scratches from your car’s clear coat, not wax.
With that said, car wax can hide scratches by filling in these scratches during the wax application. Filling in these scratches helps to hide that abrupt line between the normal clear coat surface and the scratch itself. When a wax fills a scratch, it blends the outline of the scratch so that it is less noticeable to the naked eye. In this way, certain waxes can help to hide scratches, but again they do not remove scratches.
When do you wax a car after washing it?
It’s possible that you can wax a car right after washing it, however there’s a little more to it than that. As mentioned previously, waxing a properly prepped vehicle is necessary to obtain the best looking results. Therefore, if you only washed your vehicle (assuming it was not fully detailed previously) and you throw on a coat of wax, it might offer some protection, but it may not look as good and may also not last as long.
If I ever wax a vehicle, it is always done to a prepped vehicle. This means at a minimum, I would wash a car, chemically decontaminate (iron remover) and physically decontaminate (clay bar) the car, then apply a wax. If you want an even better looking result, you can perform some level of paint correction via compounding or polishing. This will also allow the wax to better adhere to the paint surface for a greater wax longevity.
Does car wax have UV protection?
Car wax naturally doesn’t have UV protection in its natural state. Some manufacturers may claim that their wax has added UV protection, but there isn’t much evidence to support that even with these supposed UV-inhibitors added to the car wax, that this does much in the form of preventing UV rays from passing through the wax barrier. So to answer this question, it’s possible car wax may have UV protection added by the manufacturer, but it may have negligible effect in absorbing or blocking UV rays.