There’s nothing better than a car with a fresh coat of wax. Done properly, wax can really make your car stand out and showcase the phenomenal paintwork, adding a glossy shine that turns heads as you speed down the highway.
But over time, that wax coat will lose its luster, and the defense that it offers your vehicle will fade along with the shine. The trouble is, this gradual decline in glory can be difficult to determine from eyesight alone. How often should you wax your car, and is there a way to maximize your car’s protection?
Let’s answer these questions and others in this in-depth guide to car waxing frequency.
What Does Waxing Do?
Waxing is a protective measure that car owners do to preserve the look and luster of their car’s paint and finish. Essentially, a coat of wax is a protective layer that forms a tough bond with the paint material itself. This hydrophobic bond repels water, dirt, oil, grease, bird droppings, and any other hazards you can imagine. It stops those contaminants from reaching the paintwork of the vehicle.
This, in turn, helps a waxed car look better for longer. At the same time, wax doesn’t prevent you from washing your vehicle regularly – again, the layer is hydrophobic, which means that water doesn’t easily remove the wax layer. Think of it as a shield for your car.
But while wax is pretty durable, it’s not permanent. Therefore, you have to reapply a coat of wax every now and again to ensure that your car is properly protected. This entails a little bit of elbow grease since you have to remove the previous layer of wax totally before reapplying a new layer.
So, a lot of people wonder how often they should wax their car – it’s not nearly as effective if you do it too often or too infrequently!
So, When Should You Wax Your Car?
The answer, unfortunately, is: it depends. There are a lot of factors that can influence whether or not you should wash your car. Still, there are some general guidelines you can rely on if you aren’t sure.
Here’s a good rule of thumb:
- Apply wax twice a year to your vehicle at a minimum. The best times of year to do this are during the spring and winter seasons, since a spring coat of wax should last through the summer heat and storms, while a wax coat applied during late fall should protect against winter storms (rain or snow, depending on your climate).
- You can also wax once per season if you want maximum protection for your vehicle. This guarantees excellent defense against any environmental hazard your car might come across, including pollen during the spring and leaf debris and light rain during the fall.
- Regardless of how often you ultimately choose to wax your car, you should settle into a routine. Wax at the same time every year so you don’t forget and so your wax coat is regularly reapplied at least somewhat.
Aside from these general tips, some common sense can go a long way. For instance, if you have a car you spent $50,000 on and you take it to work every day, chances are it gets exposed to a lot of daily contaminants. Things like oil, grease, bugs, and other types of dirt can accumulate pretty quickly when your car hits the freeway every day, twice a day.
In this circumstance, it makes sense to apply wax as soon as it starts to wear off. Naturally, different wax products have different “expiry” rates.
For instance, Shine Armor’s Spray Wax Quick Coat, a type of spray-on wax solution, expires after between one and two months depending on UV exposure. In this case, you could reasonably reapply another coat of this spray on wax every 45 days or so.
Other wax products may have different expiry rates, so use your best judgment. If your car is constantly assailed by environmental contaminants, it makes sense to replace the wax coat more frequently than if your car sits in your garage for months on end.
Shine Armor’s Fortify – a kind of wax alternative that applies a ceramic coating instead of normal wax – has a longer expiry range of 2-3 months. Consider products like this if waxing is something you only have time for once in a while.
What About Vintage or Showroom Cars?
There is a time when you should ignore the above advice and reapply wax around once a month: when you have a vintage or showroom car that you need to protect much more vigilantly than a regular vehicle. Vintage or showroom cars are valuable precisely because of how excellent their paint and finishes look, and you may not want to risk any damage or dirtiness whatsoever.
Even if they sit in your garage more than they’re ever driven, it makes sense to reapply wax more frequently.
How Can You Tell That Your Car Needs Waxing?
Although having a regular wax routine is a good idea, eyeballing whether or not your car needs a new coat of wax can be tricky. The gloss or shine that wax provides to your car will only fade really slowly, and it can be difficult to tell whether the gloss is really wearing off or if you’re being paranoid.
It’s not just you – professional detailing specialists use gloss measuring devices instead of relying on their eyes for this reason!
Here are some ways you can tell that it’s time to wax your car:
- See how water runs off the side. The next time you give your car a wash, look to see if the water forms beads as it slides off your vehicle. If, instead, it streaks and slides down in long lines, it’s a good sign that the wax layer is wearing off and you need to apply a new coat. Wax will make water form tons of tiny droplets or beads, instead.
- If it’s winter and the roads of your city are being salted frequently, err on the side of caution and re-wax your car more frequently. Salt can wear down a wax layer pretty quickly.
- If your car is frequently exposed to intense heat or long hours in the sunshine, your wax layer will wear off more quickly. Consider reapplying wax about once a month if you drive your car in the desert or if the surface temperature gets higher than 90°F or so frequently.
Professional or Self Wax?
Because you may need to reapply wax to your car pretty frequently, using a wax product you can apply yourself is often more financially feasible. Again, our spray-on wax is affordable and can be reapplied multiple times before running out. This is a lot cheaper and better for your time management than having your car detailed every month. A single car detailing service can run you several hundred dollars, at least!
Is There a Difference Between Spray-On or Regular Wax?
Nope! Wax expiry or fading has nothing to do with whether it’s applied on regularly or through a spray bottle. This is because high-quality wax products are made with carnauba wax: a type of hard wax material from Brazil.
Ultimately, how often you should wax your car depends on your vehicle, its rarity, the quality of its coat of paint in the first place, your environmental conditions, and how much time you have to personally apply a new coat.
Applying a wax coat takes a little while – our blog has guides that detail the process – so be sure that you balance wax frequency with the rest of your schedule.
Remember, above all else, to use common sense. If your car seems like it needs a new coat of wax, follow your instincts and wax away!