How Often Should You Wax Your Car?

| October 29, 2012

Waxing keeps your vehicle looking like it just left the showroom. A good auto parts store — use the DexKnows listings to find one — will carry a wide range of waxes, and the people behind the counter will gladly suggest which one is best for you.

Why wax?waxing a car

Cars and trucks leave the factory today with paint that simply gleams. Regular washing helps keep it in good condition, but over time, the shine will fade. The ultraviolet rays in sunlight can damage unprotected paint while corrosive elements like bird droppings and tree sap will slowly etch away the finish. Let this go too far, and you’ll need to visit an auto repair or paint shop, but regular waxing will maintain the luster.

A good wax fills in the microscopic scratches that gradually form and creates a protective layer over the paint. You can see this in the way water beads on a freshly waxed surface. What happens is that the forces of molecular attraction inside the drops are stronger than the water’s attraction to the waxed surface. When there’s no wax, the forces drawing the water molecules to the paint and dirt are stronger, causing it to spread out.

How often?

In testing, Consumer Reports magazine found that the protective benefits of car wax wear off after two to three months. Much depends on the environment, though, and because a good wax job takes time and effort, you don’t want to be doing it more often than necessary. So how do you tell when your car needs waxing?

There are two simple checks. First, look for the beading effect. As the wax wears off, water will stop beading up, becoming more sheet-like. At this point, the protection has gone and it’s time to apply another coat.

It’s also possible to feel the difference. If you gently run your palm across two adjacent panels, one waxed and one not, you’ll notice less drag on the waxed panel. It actually feels smoother, and that is because the wax has filled the tiny surface scratches.

What type of wax?

Car waxes come as liquids, pastes and those that can be sprayed. The sprays are quick and take the least effort, but tend not to last as well as the other types. Pastes are more durable and easy to apply, but don’t produce quite as a rich a shine as the liquid waxes. If your car is new and you just want to keep it looking sharp, a spray will be fine, but if you don’t mind working hard for the best finish, go with a liquid.

Where to buy waxes?

Many stores carry auto waxes, but for the best choice and highest quality, visit a specialist auto parts store. Search the DexKnows auto parts stores listings for one near you.

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Category: Auto Maintenance, Autos

About the Author ()

After twenty years in the automobile industry the craft of wordsmith called. Putting down the wrench, Nigel picked up a keyboard on which to express his passion for all things automotive.