How to Wax Your Car: Easy Tips & Tricks for Beginners

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You probably already know that washing your car can go a long way toward making it look fresh, but if you want a luxurious shine to your car, you’re also going to have to wax it.

Waxing your car will take a little more effort, but the results will have it looking showroom ready. And who knows? Maybe after you are done waxing your car, you’ll have gained some karate skills, just like Daniel LaRusso after Mr. Miyagi had him wax his cars.

Keep reading to learn how to wax your car and get it looking in top shape.

What do you need to wax your car?

The first thing you will need before waxing your car is, of course, a good wax.

Car waxes come in different forms, and you can pick the right one for you based on how easy you want the job to be.

Forms of car waxes include:

  • Spray wax: These waxes are the easiest to apply. Spray waxes have largely been considered inferior products, but the quality has highly improved over time.
  • Liquid wax: These waxes are generally harder to apply than spray wax. If you are using a buffer, you should be using liquid wax.
  • Paste wax: These waxes usually take the most elbow grease to apply to your car.

In addition to your wax, you will also need:

  • A foam waxing pad (not necessary for spray waxes).
  • Microfiber towels or other soft towels. 
  • Orbital buffer (optional).

Do you wax before or after a car wash?

First thing to know: you always wax AFTER a car wash.

How to Wax a Car: Step by Step

No matter which type of wax you are using for your car, the very first step is always to wash your car before waxing.

You want the surface of your car to be as clean as possible.

From there, the steps differ depending on whether or not you are using a spray wax or a liquid or paste wax.

The next step is to read the instructions from the wax packaging.

Some waxes may have very specific instructions.

We’ll go over some general steps for waxing your car but always refer to the wax instructions. 

Applying Spray Wax

With your car clean and dry, take these steps to apply liquid wax to your car:

  1. Spray the liquid wax on the surface of the car, working small portions of the car at a time.
  2. Use a microfiber towel to rub the wax into the car.
  3. Once you’ve applied wax across the car, use another clean microfiber towel to run across the entire car and wipe away the wax.

Applying Liquid or Paste Wax

Take these steps to apply paste or liquid wax on your car:

  1. Find a shaded area to park your car and work. You’ll preferably be in a covered area. 
  2. Dab a small amount of wax onto a foam waxing pad.
  3. Apply the wax (or “wax on”) with the pad using small circular motions.
  4. Go over the car with a microfiber towel to wipe away the wax and buffer. 

Using an Orbital Buffer 

A mechanical orbital buffer can save you some time and energy. It’s best to use a random orbital buffer that will apply the wax evenly without going in the same circular motion, risking ruining your paint. 

Reasons to Wax Your Car

Waxing your car gives it a great-looking shine, but the truth of the matter is, waxing is much more about protection than it is about aesthetics.

Waxing your car helps protect your car’s clear coat from harmful UV rays, pollutants, and water.

By waxing your car, you ensure that your car’s paint remains as pristine as possible, for as long as possible. 

If you ever plan to sell your car, a paint job that’s still in top condition is going to increase its resale value.

How Often to Do It

There aren’t really any hard and fast rules regarding how often you should wax your car. However, it’s probably a good idea to wax your car at least twice a year. 

If your car faces the elements quite often, you might want to wax it a few more times.

One good way to determine if your car needs waxing is by running your finger across the surface. If the car feels smooth, it’s likely adequately waxed.

Estimated Cost of Getting Car Waxed

Many car enthusiasts find a sort of Zen quality in spending hours hand waxing their vehicles.

However, you may be the type that gets zero satisfaction from doing any sort of manual labor. If you’d prefer, you can get your car waxed at a professional car wash. 

The price to get your car washed and waxed will vary depending on things like location and the size of your car. You can expect to pay between $50 to $150 for a wash and hand wax.

Meanwhile, if you decide to do the job yourself, a good wax will cost you about $15 to $20.