Car Wax Durability: How Long Does Car Wax Last?

One of the best ways to protect the paint of your car after it has been damaged by small rocks, the sun, and everything else that it will encounter daily is by having it waxed. Waxing can be an arduous experience with many owners learning about every small chip and defect of their car, usually leaving them wondering just how long their freshly applied coat of wax will last them.

As a general rule, car wax will last up to a year. Natural carnauba car waxes last one to six months, while some synthetic car waxes are engineered to last four months to a year. To maximize the time car wax lasts on a car it needs to be applied to clean, clayed, and polished paint.

Of course there are many factors that influence how long car wax lasts. Moreover it is important to know how to prepare a car for waxing in order to increase the durability of the protective wax film.

Factors That Influence How Long Car Wax Lasts

As mentioned above, there is no precise answer to how long car wax lasts. The durability of the car wax is affected and influenced by a lot of different factors, that I will take a closer look at.

These factors influence how long a coat of wax will protect your car:

  • Surface preparation
  • Application process
  • Type of wax
  • Environment
  • Frequency and type of washing
  • Amount of driving
  • Body Panel

Surface Preparation

Preparing the surface correctly before waxing a car is crucial and greatly influences how long the wax job will last.
Applying wax to a smooth and clean paint surface will improve the bonding between the wax and the paint, leading to an improved durability.

In order to prepare the paint the best way possible, make sure to wash the car thoroughly and clay bar it afterwards. Claying the car removes any bonded contaminants, including old wax, and leaves you with super smooth paint to apply wax to.

If your car’s paint is in a bad condition, you should also consider paint correction before applying a coat of car wax. This will not only increase the longevity of the wax, but it will also make your car look much shinier. Paint correction will moreover give your car the desired “wet-look”. A good wax will even enhance this.

Contrary to paint correction, claying a car before applying car wax is mandatory. I have written an in-depth article about this here. Make sure to read it before applying wax to your car!

Application Process

Applying the car wax correctly also influences how long it lasts on the car.

It is important to only use as much car wax as necessary. Make sure to read the instructions on the wax container in order to know, how much wax needs to be applied.
As a rule of thumb, better use less wax than you think you may need.

Applying wax excessively is not only a waste of product, but it also leads to streaks on the paintjob and forces you to buff the paint in order to get rid of these streaks.

Type Of Wax

The type of wax you are using is probably the biggest influence on the longevitiy of the paint protection.

There are many different kinds of waxes ranging from “show-waxes” that give a great look, but offer nearly no protection and do not last long to incredibly durable synthetic waxes that last up to a year or longer.

Generally, waxes can be separated into two different kinds. These are natural waxes and synthetic waxes.

Pure carnauba car waxes last anywhere from three weeks to two months. Carnauba car waxes that are mixed with synthetic car waxes can last up to six month. Carnauba car waxes are very gentle to the paint and give a slick look to the car.

The downside is, that it wears off much faster than a synthetic wax.

Synthetic car waxes last up to a year on a car, as they bond to the paint chemically. These waxes are made from plastics, silicones or other synthetic polymers. Synthetic car waxes are very durable and hard once they are dried. The downside is that they do not provide a lot of shine.

Environment

The environment is a big factor in terms of car wax durability.

Car wax is a sacrificial barrier coating. This means that is protects the paint from any dirt, debris, fallout, and bird droppings by “sacrificing” itself.

So the more dirt, debris etc. is in the environment, the faster the car wax sacrifices itself, making it less durable.

If you want to increase the durability of the car wax, try to at least park the car in a safe spot like a garage.

Car wax durability is also influenced by the time of year. During Fall and Winter your car is more likely to get in contact with contaminants that attack the car wax. During Spring and Summer, this is less likely to occur, increasing the time the car wax lasts on your car.

Frequency and Type of Washing

The frequency and type of car washing greatly influence how long car wax lasts on your car.

First things first: If you are using an automatic car wash to clean your car, how long the car wax will last, should actually be the least of your concerns. Automatic car washes are just not safe to wash cars.

Here I have written an in depth article about why automatic car washes are not safe to wash a car. Make sure to check it out!

The bad news is that also a perfectly done hand wash will destroy the layer of wax over time.
Car shampoo and other products used attack the wax layer, slightly destroying it with every wash performed.

So no matter what you do, washing the car will reduce the time that the car wax lasts on your car. Nevertheless, you should make sure to wash your car regularly, as it has a lot of positive benefits.

Amount of Driving

As mentioned above, car wax sacrifices itself in order to protect the paint. This happens everytime contaminants touch the car. These contaminants can include anything from sand, mud, and rain to harsher contaminants like industrial fallout and bird droppings.

The amount of driving performed determines greatly how many contaminants a car comes in touch with. This in turn influences how long the car wax lasts on the car.

As a rule of thumb, the more you drive, the lower the durability of the wax will be and vice versa.

Body Panel

Car wax does not last the same amount of time on every body panel of the car. The reason is that some body panels are contaminated more and faster, destroying the protective wax layer faster.

Car wax will last you much longer on the trunk than on the body panels close to the wheels.
You can easily see this when looking at your doors. The upper parts of the door panel are almost always far less dirty than the lower parts.

This in turn means, that car wax will last longer on the upper parts of the doors, as dirt is less likely to reach these parts. The lower parts of the doors are guaranteed to get dirty, which destroys the wax film.

Can you wax the car too much?

When you climb onto online forums, or you talk to other car owners you will quickly find that they are constantly arguing about how frequently you need to wax a car. When listening to these talks, just be aware that it is absolutely possible to wax a car too often.

Waxing a car too often is possible. To find out if you are waxing your car too often, check if your paint appears milky. If this is the case, there is too much wax on the car.
Make sure to apply a new layer of wax, once the protective properties of the current layer are not longer existent.

Waxing a car too often can cause problems, if the paint is not prepared properly. If you clay the paint before applying a new layer of wax and buff the paint after the application, there is virtually no risk of milkiness and too much wax on the car.

I have written a really cool article about why you have to clay your car before applying car wax. Make sure to read it here!

Problems start to arise if the preparation is neglected and the car is not clayed before applying car wax. This will lead to multiple layers of car wax with contaminants between them. Not only can lead this to serious problems like rust, it also does not look nice at all.

Make sure to always clay your car before applying a new layer of car wax. This way the old wax and any contaminants are removed.

What needs to be done before waxing your car?

The process of waxing always looks simple when you are looking at YouTube videos where the uploader has created a time-lapse of everything happening. If you are planning on applying your wax, or you are wondering why it would take so long for your professional waxer to apply the wax, you need to know the full process.

Starting with washing the car, which will already be more intense than just a normal wash, the job of waxing the car involves claying and drying as well. With a few more extreme jobs requiring that you do some polishing and paint correction before finally applying the wax.

These are the steps that need to be taken in order to prepare car paint for waxing:

  • Hand washing the car: The car’s paint needs to be in almost perfect condition in order for the wax to bond to it the best. It is crucial to perform a thorough hand wash in order to decontaminate the car and prepare it for the next steps.
  • Drying the car: Before you start claying the car, it is important to dry it. This way you can guarantee that the clay lubrication used during claying is not mixed with water and offers enough lubrication for the clay bar not to scratch the paint.
  • Claying the car: Claying a car is one of those unique things that can be difficult to do properly. Clay on a car is used to remove bonded contaminatns from the paint surface. Applying wax without claying the car would lead to these contaminants being covered under the wax. This can lead to problems like rust spots. Always make sure to use enough clay lubricant or soapy water when claying the car.
  • Drying the car (again): Before you can do anything else to your car you need to ensure that there is not a single drop of water left on it. Water reacts in strange ways to both wax and polish. The best way to dry your car is using microfibre towels, getting into every crack and panel gap to ensure not a single speck of water can come in the way of your next step.
  • Paint correction (polishing): If your paint has been heavily damaged you will want to remove the scratches before applying car wax. Most of the smaller damages can be fixed by polishing the paint, however, sometimes there are deep scratches that need to be filled in. Before you wax the car is when you should be doing this, giving the car another full wash before applying the protective layer of wax.

Should I Wax A Car After Every Wash?

It may tempt you to just continue and wax the car after you have just spent a few hours washing it to be sparkly clean. Many first-time waxers make the mistake of thinking that only a good wash is needed to have the car ready for waxing.

There is no need to wax a car after every wash. Car wax has hydrophobic properties and will last a few weeks to months on a car. Washing a car does not remove the protective wax layer, so it is unnecessary and a waste of product and time to wax a car after every wash.

Actually, waxing a car after every wash can lead to a build up of wax, which can cause streaking and a milky looking paint.
Moreover, it is just not necessary to wax a car after every wash, as the wax will not lose its protective properties after a hand wash.

If you use an automatic car wash, which you should not, you need to apply wax more often to the car than if you were cleaning the car by hand. Nevertheless, even when using an automatic car wash, waxing after every use is not necessary.

Key Takeaways

  • How long car wax lasts depends on a variety of factors
  • You can wax a car too often, which leads to streaks and a milky looking paint
  • Natural carnauba waxes last up to two months and give a great shine
  • Synthetic waxes can last up to a year and are very durable
  • Make sure to clay your car before waxing it

Here Are All My Favorite Car Detailing Products

Proper car detailing requires a lot of products. Given that the market for car detailing products is huge and there are many different products available, it can be very confusing and hard to find seriously high-quality products online.

I want to make sure that you as my reader get great car detailing products, so I decided to list my favorite products down below. I am sure you and your car will love them! 🙂

Microfiber Wash Mitts: Microfiber wash mitts are the go-to piece of equipment for every car cleaning enthusiast. Without a proper wash mitt cleaning a car is impossible. These are my favorites:

  • Amazon Basics Deluxe Microfiber Car Wash Mitt: Click here
  • Armor All Microfiber Car Wash Mitt: Click here
  • The Rag Company – Cyclone Wash Mitts: Click here

Car Shampoo: Car shampoo is the only suitable shampoo for washing cars safely. Make sure to get a high-quality car shampoo to prevent scratches. Check my favorites here and get yourself a good car shampoo!

Pressure Washers: If you are serious about car detailing and about cleaning your cars properly, there is no way around a high-quality pressure washer. I know that they are expensive, but trust me, a good pressure washer is a game-changer. Check out my recommendations below!

  • Karcher 13246440 K 5 Premium Full Control: Click here
  • Greenworks Electric Pressure Washer GPW2003: Click here
  • Karcher K1700 Electric Power Pressure Washer: Click here

Paint Protection: Paint protection is something that belongs to every car detailing routine. As it is so important, there are many different products and many different use cases. Check the list below to find my favorite paint protection products.

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Jan-Lucas Ganssauge

Physical Address

304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124