Car Wax

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

While waxing your car adds to its shine and appearance, wax also acts as a barrier against salt, mud, and chemical-laden dust and dirt, all of which are breeding grounds for rust. We find out whether all car waxes are created equal.


The Basics

  • Waxing your car two times a year can help keep your vehicle rust-free and looking great for years to come. Car manufacturers don’t say waxing is essential, but there are benefits, including making your car look better and giving its surface a layer of protection.

  • The main wax ingredient can be either natural or synthetic:

    • Carnauba wax is the most common natural ingredient and is as hard and durable as wax gets.

      • Many brand-name wax manufacturers use only the top grade carnauba wax, which is mixed with emollients like petroleum and mineral spirits to soften it.

      • The higher percentage of carnauba (usually 5%), the more expensive the wax, but most products don’t reveal the actual amounts on the label.

      • Hard paste in a can is generally higher in carnauba. A liquid product will have a lower concentration

    • Synthetic waxes were created as a result of skyrocketing carnauba prices. They’re easier to use but can become cloudy.

      • Products that contain polymer substances protect more effectively than wax for longer because they bond with the surface of the paint and prevent it from fading or oxidizing.

      • Silicone is a polymer often used.

      • Some products claim to have synthetic carnauba.

  • If you have dark-coloured paint, look for a wax designed for dark finishes, which will usually contain chemicals rather than abrasives. Scratches are more visible on dark finishes.

  • There are a variety of wax types to choose from:

    • Spray waxes are relatively new but considered easy and fast to use. Just squirt on, wipe off, and buff away residue. No rubbing or waiting to dry.

    • Liquid waxes are also easy to use, but require more effort than sprays. Be careful not to use too much, which can lead to unevenness and streaking. Liquid wax coats don’t last as long as hard waxes, but they’re great for touch-ups between major waxings.

    • Soft waxes are light and easy to apply and remove. Simply wipe on the wax, allow to dry to a haze, then wipe off.

    • Hard or paste wax is preferred by most die-hard car fanatics. It provides the most protection and should be used for a semi-annual wax job. They can cost more, but are a better value because you can get up to twice as many waxings as liquid. Paste wax is harder to apply and requires rubbing and buffing for a high-gloss shine.

      • Always do one small area at a time to avoid letting the wax harden too much, or it will be difficult to remove.

  • Wash & wax combinations area easy to use and work well, but can contain abrasives so aren’t good for every wash. They also aren’t a substitute for a thorough waxing when it comes to long-term protection, so make sure you do a real wax twice a year.

Be Aware

  • Hot wax spray, often offered as an optional feature at a car wash, is not really worth the money. The wax isn’t strong enough to provide protection. Plus, the wax gets applied all over the vehicle and could damage mouldings.


We tested these products on new cars and an older car for ease of application, shine, and ability to bead water away after we were done:

  • Eagle One Wax As You Dry (spray): $10
  • Turtle Wax 2001 (liquid): $11.70
  • Zymol (liquid with natural carnauba): $19
  • Simoniz (pure paste with carnauba): $21.00

Wax Test

  • All the products except the Eagle One Wax As You Dry spray passed the bead test. After four rinses water started puddling.

  • We definitely preferred the two products containing carnauba – Zymol and Simoniz. They went on the easiest and gave the deepest shine.

  • On the older car, which was in need of a good waxing, the Zymol liquid and Simoniz paste wax performed best again.


It was a tie between Zymol and Simoniz, but given that we know the paste contains more natural carnauba, our top pick is Simoniz.

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