How to Wax a Car

Before we get started please refer to the tools required for applying wax or sealant for product suggestions.

Waxing is the last step in the process of cleaning your car’s paint. It acts as a protective layer giving it the depth and shine that adds to the car’s look as well. Before you start, the surface must be smooth to the touch, if not check out the clay bar guide for the basics of claying your car to give it a good foundation for the car wax or sealant to stick on. This is also the time to check for swirl marks. Polish before waxing or sealing as you have to do paint correction before applying the final protective wax or sealant layer.

Do this in a shaded area, preferably inside a garage so the wax residue does not dry up too quickly making it difficult to remove. Make sure that you have thoroughly dried the vehicle as water droplets can cause wax to streak on the surface making it harder to remove.

Let’s get started.

Hand Application

Paste Wax

Pinnacle Signature Series II Carnauba Paste WaxA technique you can use when applying a paste wax is holding the applicator pad on the container then spin the container on the pad so you liquefy and spread the wax evenly on the pad.

Don’t try to get a big chunk on the applicator because you’ll end up with a thick coat of wax on the paint which will be hard to buff off.

Another technique you can use swiping the edges of the applicator on the paste wax just don’t get a big chunk. Remember only thin coats.

Liquid Wax or Paint Sealant

Pinnacle Liquid Souveran Wax 16ozPour a dime sized amount on the foam applicator, this will enough to work on a two to three square foot area. Lightly squeeze the pad before applying wax so the wax gets absorbed.

Application techniques

Apply wax in a straight line in the direction the wind would blow on the vehicle so just in case any small debris stuck gets on in between the pad and the surface it will not create circular scratches on the paint because this is more visible than straight line scratches. If you’re going to wipe in a circular motion always check for any impurities in between the pad and the paint as you don’t want any swirl marks developing as you wax.

Please follow manufacturer’s directions when applying wax. For example the Pinnacle Souveran Paste Wax recommends a wipe on and wipe off system so after applying wax on a small area, say half of the car’s hood, wipe it off afterwards as soon as you finish and do not let it dry because it will be hard to remove.

For liquid wax, it needs to haze first before removal so you can apply it on the whole vehicle before buffing and not the wipe on wipe off method that a paste wax uses. To figure out if the wax is ready to be removed, swipe your fingers across the hazed wax, if it reveals a clean surface then the wax is ready to be removed.

Tools you’ll need to wax

Use thin coats

One thick coat will not give you more protection, shine or depth and you will be just wasting the product. It also makes the wax difficult to remove. If you want more depth, you can add another thin layer of wax over the current one after it cures. Check the label to see how long it will take for the wax to cure or settle on the paint, on average it will be around 12 to 18 hours.

Buff to a nice shine

Use a microfiber towel to remove wax residue. Fold the towel as you go to reveal a clean side, if the whole towel is caked with wax get a new one.

You can use two towels, one to remove wax and the other to buff the paint to a nice shine.

Just in case there is some streaking spray a bit of quick detailer let it soak for a few seconds then wipe the streak off.

Just in case you forgot please refer to the tools required for applying wax or sealant for product suggestions.

Machine Application with a Porter Cable

Why a Porter Cable?

Porter Cable - Clean Your CarYou can also use the Meguiar’s Dual Action Polisher. We are just using this as an example to accurately illustrate the proper techniques on how to use a machine to apply wax. These two products are great for beginners because they don’t have a steep learning curve like the rotary polishers which can easily burn paint if you get careless and not concentrate.

Use a waxing pad

These pads are preferred because they are soft and absorbent, perfect for wax application. It has a Velcro attachment on the back which makes it easy to stick on or take off the porter cable.

How to apply wax on the pad

If you are using paste wax, take out the wax or turn the container upside down and then lightly apply a thin coat on the pad. If you’re taking out the paste wax, use a microfiber glove so you don’t contaminate the wax with your fingers.

For liquid wax, pour in around a quarter sized amount or four dime sized amounts on four sides on the pad, this should cover two to three panels. Lightly press it on the paint before you turn on the machine so wax spreads and does not splatter all over.

Set the speed to a maximum of three

This is usually the highest speed that you can use. To be sure, check the instructions on the your specific wax. Lightly spread the wax over the surface using overlapping passes until you evenly cover an entire section.

Remove the wax residue

Buff off using a microfiber towel or a lambswool pad.

Some maintenance tips

After removing and buffing the wax mist some spray wax or quick detailer in between wax cycles to help maintain that just waxed shine.

Try this out

You can combine wax and a sealant to enhance both the shine and depth of the car’s paint, this technique is called layering, you can layer thin coats of sealants and waxes right above each other.

The rule of thumb is to apply the sealant first because this will act as the foundation layer as sealants lasts longer compared to waxes so it will not come off easy as compared to a carnauba wax. After it cures apply another coat of sealant and then the final layer wax.

The sealant provides the sleek shine while the carnauba wax provides the depth and brings out the colour of the paint.

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