Whether your car is old or new, you don’t want to see your vehicle show signs of age.
You may have also heard from some folks that car wash wax might be the solution to your car’s “aging” problems.
But is it, really?
Car wash wax isn’t as effective as hand-waxing for preserving your car’s paintwork. However, it’s better than your car having no protective layer whatsoever. Car wash wax can still enhance your vehicle’s aesthetic value by removing water spots and enhancing your car’s shine (albeit temporarily).
That said, whether car wash wax can effectively protect your car or is a waste of money isn’t a black and white issue.
In this article, I’ll go into further detail about the effectiveness of car wash waxes, the cons of using car wash wax, whether car wash wax can do more harm than good to your car, and the pros of car wash wax.
Do Car Wash Waxes Work?
Car wash waxes are a quicker alternative and supplement to hand-waxing your car.
But do they work for their intended purpose?
Below, I’ve put together a table of ideas from reputable experts around the internet, plus my personal takeaways from their takes.
|Do Car Wash Waxes Work?|
|Detailing Solutions||Car wash wax works, but only temporarily. It’s more of a maintenance wax for a brighter look. |
|Wilson Auto Detailing||Car wash wax (or spray-on wax) is just as good as paste wax when it comes to looks. But past or hand wax are better when it comes to protective qualities.|
|“Living With Your Car: Safety, Cost and Care” — Ken W. Purdy, University of Mississippi||“I usually skip the extra spray-wax treatment because it seems to vary in efficiency, good in one place, useless in another, and because I can’t seem to bring myself to believe in wax that hasn’t been rubbed down.”|
|Sierra Dillard — MotorBiscuit.com||The spray-on wax used in most car washes is mainly for cosmetic benefits.|
|Keith Barry — consumerreports.com||Even car-wash owners agree that spray-on wax only provides aesthetic value.|
Downsides to Car Wash Wax
While car wash wax gives your car a noticeable shine, it still has its drawbacks — especially compared to paste wax.
Aside from the factors already discussed above (like its temporary nature and little to no practicality for paint preservation), here are the primary downsides of using car wash wax.
The benefits of spray-on wax in car washes depend on the wax’s quality and characteristics.
No two spray waxes are alike, since they differ in terms of quality and type.
Some waxes meet your cosmetic and protective requirements better than others, and a few can do you more harm than good due to their incompatibility with your vehicle.
Most low-quality waxes can’t provide any sort of UV protection to your car.
Soft 99 FussoCoat
My car wax of choice! I have used this product for a long time now and can totally recommend it. Better get yourself a quality wax once and save money on unnecessary car wash add-ons.
They may not even help resist water spots as your car dries off after a car wash.
Basically, you’re just throwing away money if you use them.
If possible, find a reliable car wash company near you that uses high-quality spray wax.
Ideally, the experts at the establishment can examine your car and fill you in on the type, quality, and brand of spray or liquid luster wax you should use to get the results you want.
Application Isn’t As Thorough as Waxing It by Hand
Car wash wax is meant to be sprayed onto your vehicle as a supplement to the wash.
Because the process of spraying is super quick, some spots won’t be hit evenly if at all.
As numerous experts have pointed out, car wash wax functions more as a temporary cosmetic enhancer than a cleaning agent.
For example, in his paper “Living With Your Car: Safety, Cost and Care”, Ken W. Purdy says car wash wax is “good in one place, useless in another” — an unavoidable downside of a process that can take as little as two minutes.
On the other hand, hand-waxing takes around one to two hours (excluding washing and drying), and (as the name implies) involves applying wax all over your car by hand.
The effectiveness of hand-waxing largely comes from using paste wax instead of spray wax.
However, the procedure is also elaborate enough to ensure complete body coverage.
Can Leave Permanent Stains
At worst, car wash waxes can leave permanent white stains on your car.
Granted, your paintwork may not suffer the brunt of the damage, but the black plastic bits some cars have (e.g., side mirrors, spoilers, rear and front bumpers) will.
Depending on the ingredients in your spray wax, it can leave permanent white stains on the black plastic bits I mentioned.
That said, many spray wax products in machine car washes may not have that issue.
Again, consult your car wash for more information.
Regardless of the type of wax you’re using, it’s always a good idea to cover up your car’s vulnerable bits before applying or spraying car wash wax all over your vehicle.
Can Make Scratches Worse
Another downside to car wash wax is that if there’s any dirt or debris on the vehicle’s surface before waxing, subsequently applying spray wax can worsen scratches.
Unlike paste wax applied by hand, car wash wax is sprayed onto the vehicle with enough pressure to grind dirt particles deep into the car’s paintwork.
In contrast, hand-waxing is a more delicate procedure.
Those who are skilled in applying paste wax by hand can spot patches with scratches right away and work around them.
They can also remove visible debris or dirt before rubbing wax over them.
Can Cause Smearing on Windows
Spray wax can get onto your car’s windshield.
Again, depending on what your spray wax contains, it can cause permanent smearing.
Cleaning windshield smears isn’t cheap, and driving with a smeared windshield can endanger your life on the road.
It’s Costly Over the Long-Run
Spray wax can seem like a cheap option at first. After all, it takes only a few minutes and works for quick touch-ups.
However, the cost of car wash wax versus hand-waxing adds up over time.
Even the best car wash waxes only last about a week or two tops.
In other words, if you want to maintain the shiny look you get right after a spray-waxing job, you’re looking at two or three car wash wax jobs a month.
That’s one too many wax jobs, if you ask me.
At the same time, you don’t want to forgo car wash waxing completely.
For example, you can get your car hand-waxed two or three times a year, and maybe do a monthly car wash wax for special occasions.
That way, you can get all the benefits of car wash waxing and keep its downsides to a minimum.
Is Wax Bad for Your Car?
As I’ve established, waxing isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a procedure your car should undergo within regular intervals to sustain its benefits.
If you’re spray waxing your car at least once a month, you might wonder if it’s bad for your paint.
Car wax is not bad for your car. Instead, car wax offers a protective layer for the delicate paint to protect it from dirt, debris, industrial fallout, and other things that can damage the paint. Moreover, car wax preserves the value of the car, makes cleaning easier, and saves money in the long-run.
Here are tips to keep in mind to avoid damaging your car’s paint with car wash wax:
Pros of Car Wash Wax
I’ve discussed the downsides of using car wash wax, so let’s get to the upsides.
After all, car wash spray waxes are still relatively convenient, accessible, and affordable.
It’s super easy to apply, and you can minimize unnecessary contact (and scratches) on your car.
Here are the pros of car wash wax in greater detail.
Sonax Brilliant Shine Detailer
Not all spray waxes are bad and this one from Sonax proves it. I have used the Brilliant Shine Detailer for a long time and it always amazes me again. Check some forum to read amazin reviews. This stuff really does work!