Here Is What Car Wax Actually Does

Car wax is widely used in the car detailing world for its protective tendencies. It is highly unlikely that you have never heard of this product, as it has been in use for a very long time. You may have a general notion of what car wax does, but I’ve written this article to give you an in-depth understanding of how it performs its protective functions.

Car wax fills in the scratches and swirls on a car’s finish and forms a protective and sacrificial layer over the body. The protective layer prevents the destructive effect of debris, water, and ultraviolet rays. By so doing, car wax enhances and maintains a car’s shiny appearance for a longer time.

The functions and effects of car wax are further discussed in detail below.

Functions of Car Wax

  • It protects the paint against debris and other contaminants
  • Car wax offers hydrophobic protection
  • It fills in tiny scratches
  • It protects against harmful UV radiation
  • It makes car washing easier
  • Improves shine and luster
  • Car waxing preserves a car’s value
  • Car waxing can save you money

It Protects the Paint Against Debris and Other Contaminants

Car wax provides a semi-permanent protective layer that takes in the harmful effect of contaminants like debris, dust, water, grime, insects, and any other potentially destructive agent. The damaging effects are rather taken out on the “sacrificial” wax layer.

With proper waxing, it becomes harder for these contaminants to adhere to the car exterior or gain access to the painted surface. In the absence of this protective layer, there’s very little you can do to protect your car’s paint from the rapid deterioration that could arise from the onset of these contaminants.

Now, car wax does not stay on perpetually; it slowly degrades with time and contamination. Thus, re-waxing is required from time to time to maintain the protective film that keeps contaminants from getting directly in touch with the car’s paint.

Car Wax Offers Hydrophobic Protection

Another important thing that car wax does is offer hydrophobic protection. What this means is that it has great water-repelling properties and, when it is applied, prevents water from passing through the wax layer to reach the car paint.

Carnauba, one of the commonest car wax ingredients, is naturally hydrophobic. Even when mixed with synthetic ingredients, it is still able to effectively repel water.

Unlike water that’s made up of polar molecules, wax is made of nonpolar molecules that makes it harder for water to stick to it. This water rolls off in beads when it comes in contact with waxed surfaces.

This wax property prevents standing water that can result in water spots or any other water-related damage, as water is not able to reach the clear coat layer and deposit filth and chemicals.

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It Fills in Tiny Scratches

No matter how much a car is taken care of, tiny scratches are bound to happen. Car wax can fill these little scratches and make the surface of the car look perfect again.

Here’s how it does this. When applied to relatively small scratches, the wax fills in the minute depression and provides a smooth surface illusion. In reality, the scratches are not completely eliminated. They are only covered up, such that they become invisible, as the light that hits the car’s paint reflects perfectly off it again.

However, there is a limit to the scratches this product can fill up. When you have deep scratches on your car, you may want to seek out more permanent remedies, as car wax might just not suffice.

It Protects Against Harmful UV Radiation

UV radiation is not only damaging to human skin, it can also damage cars’ paint over time. Thus, cars need as much protection as they can get from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Fading, oxidation, and discoloration are some damaging effects of UV radiation on car exteriors. To avoid these negative effects and keep a car’s color in good condition, it becomes necessary to form a barrier between the paint surface and the incoming radiation.

Besides protecting a car from debris and other contaminants, car wax takes in whatever destructive effect that ultraviolet radiation from the sun may otherwise have on the paint job. This is a really important car wax function to take note of if you stay in sunny climes.

It Makes Car Washing Easier and Safer

It’s relatively harder for contaminants to attach to waxed surfaces due to the slickness. Owing to this, there’s always less dirt, dust, and grime to contend with when washing a waxed car compared to an unwaxed exterior.

Many people are unaware or choose to ignore the cons of using automatic car washes, but there’s more than enough evidence to infer that they negatively affect car paint jobs. If you want to know more about why automatic car washes are not safe for washing cars, you have to check out this in-depth article I have written here.

Adequately waxed cars are much more protected against harmful chemicals, recycled water, and unmaintained brushes going into a car wash than unwaxed cars.

Improves Shine and Luster

The most popular highlight of car waxes is that they make cars appear shinier. While this is true, a common misconception is that car wax in itself is a shiny product. It has a mirror-like impression after application that gives the bodywork a factory-like luster.

Furthermore, by filling in scratches and swirls, it is able to restore a somewhat perfect aesthetic. Due to the protection, it offers against the harmful effect of UV rays, car wax ensures that your paint job remains in prime condition for a longer period.

Car Waxing Preserves a Car’s Value

Preserving a car’s value is one of the aims of car detailing, and waxing is one of the steps to take in that direction. By covering swirls and shielding the clear coat, car wax preserves the paint’s quality and makes other maintenance significantly easier. Thereby, giving a car a much better resale value.

Much more than its protective effect, car wax contains solvents and oils responsible for enhancing the overall appearance. These ingredients give car wax special reflective properties that make a car appear shinier.   The perceived value of an automobile is directly influenced by this.

When trading at a dealership or selling privately, an evaluation of the car’s condition is one of the necessary steps. Needless to say, a well-maintained exterior with little or no cosmetic problem suggests a higher value.

Car Waxing Can Save You Money

Car manufacturers and detailers suggest regular waxing as one of the ways to extend the paint’s lifespan. Car waxing prevents considerable costs that could be incurred from having to carry out a paint job. 

Contaminants can lead to the onset of rust damage, which has to be combated often with a full paint job. Without waxing, a car’s clear coat will deteriorate quicker,  increasing the need to have it repainted.

One of the most effective ways to guide against this is to provide a waxed protective layer on your clear coat, thereby reducing the chance of paint damage and having to spend on a repainting project.

Do You Really Need to Wax Your Car?

Now that you know what car wax does and how it performs its protective functions, you may ask the question if it’s mandatory to have your car waxed. There’s no cogent reason why a car owner would want to miss out on the several benefits of waxing.

In general, waxing is another step in proper car maintenance that should be carried out to protect a car’s exterior from rapid deterioration effectively. In addition to the shiny appearance that car wax gives, it protects against the abrasive and bleaching effects of contaminants and UV rays.

Moreover, automotive care professionals have always recommended waxing as a great way to maintain and improve a car’s resale value. Nonetheless, it’s not a functional requirement for car operation. It’s more like a matter of aesthetics, cleanliness, and value.

Are There Any Downsides to Waxing Your Car?

Like with most things, there are always advantages and disadvantages. As overwhelmingly positive as car waxing is, there are few cons to the process. They shouldn’t discourage you from waxing, but you should know about them.

  • Car wax wears out quickly: Generally, the protective effect of car wax doesn’t abide perpetually. To put it accurately, it doesn’t last for a long time. The most durable car waxes (synthetic) barely last up to a year, while organic products last for considerably lesser periods.
  • Waxed cars require careful washing: As car wax doesn’t adhere permanently to a car’s painted surface, waxed surfaces require more caution when washing. Handwashing remains the best way to preserve the protective layer, and for many, that’s tasking.
  • Applying car wax takes a lot of time: Another downside to car waxing is that it is a time-consuming endeavor to take on. Particularly when you plan to do it yourself. From stripping old car wax to applying a new layer, it takes a lot of time and requires patience.

Key Takeaways

  • Car waxes are applied for their protective effect
  • Synthetic waxes last longer than organic waxes
  • Car waxing is an important part of car maintenance
  • Car waxing can retain/improve a car’s resale value
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge