How Often Should You Wax Your Car?

July 9, 2019

Auto mechanic worker polishing car bonnet with wiper at automobile repair and renew service station shop

Waxing your car is a big chore, but it’s something that any responsible car owner knows they have to do. There’s nothing quite like that “just waxed look”. It’s so fresh and shiney and everyone is looking at your car as you drive down the road.

So, how often should you wax your car? It can vary depending on many different variables, but it is recommended that you wax your car at least once every quarter or every 3 months.

This page will help you learn about these types of variables and why you may need to wax your vehicle more often.

Did you know there are four layers of paint and finish on your car’s surface? The top layer is a layer of wax, and it protects everything beneath it. The clear coat is next.

After that comes the car paint. This important layer determines the color of your car while also protecting the metal. The primer follows. It’s right on the metal. The clear coat and the wax finish give your car a high gloss look that everybody loves.

That wax layer is the car owner’s responsibility to reapply during the car’s life. Every layer protects your cars? metal from the corroding effects of the elements around us. The layers stop the metal body from rusting through.

Types of Wax

There are really only two viable types of waxes and that’s liquid and paste.

Spray waxes only work for temporary fixes between waxes. Check to see that some percentage of each wax product is carnauba before you buy. The paste is likely to have a higher content of carnauba than liquid, but that doesn’t mean liquid is bad. It’s combined with synthetic polymers to make it easier to apply to the surface of your car.

Understanding Car Wax

Since the wax is the layer consumers are most likely will deal with, it’s important to understand how often you should wax your car. You also need to understand the process of waxing your car to get the most out of the wax product you invested in and the amount of time you should spend on this task.

The number of times that you should wax your car varies depending on what your car is exposed to.

If you live in a temperate climate and you store your car in a garage, you’ll need to wax your car far less often than somebody living in a road-salt state that leaves the car parked on the curb or the drive every night.

Elements that can affect your car’s finish

Mother Nature provides the following:

  • Snow
  • Rain
  • Sleet
  • Sunshine or UV rays
  • Extreme temperatures

This stuff is in the air. Some of it is natural and some of it is man-made:

  • Dust
  • Blowing dirt and sand
  • Hard-to-see elements like microscopic metal shavings
  • Bird droppings
  • Tree sap
  • Bugs

This stuff comes from the road and is some of the nastiest stuff you can get on your car:

  • Grime
  • Road tar
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Road salt
  • Beach salt

This list is about abrasives found on rags or in the composition of cleaning tools:

  • Rough rags
  • Dirty cloths
  • Scouring pads
  • Metal objects like screwdrivers and keys
  • The Elements

To look at the lists above and not understand how easily any one element can wreck your wax finish is dangerous. For example, Bird droppings have acid chemicals that eat through the wax coat in a matter of hours if it’s warm outside. If neglected entirely, it can eat through to bare metal.

Since it’s difficult to determine precisely when a bird droppings hit your car, it’s safe to assume that some if not all the wax beneath it is gone. Who knows what’s next? Clean that bird droppings off quickly!

When you notice something like metal shavings in the air that’s sticking to your car, and you see that it’s microscopic, (in other words, it’s invisible to the naked eye), it’s the best policy to wash your car once a week. If you want to guarantee removal of these elements, clay your car before applying wax.

Likewise, in road salt states, you might want to wash the car a few times a week during the seasons the road officials are dumping salt on it. If you’re really connected to your car, don’t drive it at all in a road salt state during the winter months.

Washing your car is on of the best things that you can do to protect your car’s finish. Waxing it is just as important. If you can maintain that wax finish, you’ll save the three layers beneath it, and that adds up to dollars in body repairs and resale value.

Check out this page on how often you should wash your car.

How long does wax last?

If done right and under normal driving conditions, experts say that wax lasts for a few months.

If you think you’re getting a good wax application from the drive-through or self-serve car-wash, it may not last as long. The liquid or foam wax product from car washes work on multiple surfaces and a significant percentage is rinsed off immediately. The strength of that application is not necessarily high. It isn’t rubbed in like regular liquid or paste wax.

In harsh climates, a good wax finish will last a month before it’s a good idea to do it all over again experts say. A good wax finish that lasts comes at a price in physical effort, unfortunately. It takes work.

Signs that your wax has worn off is the lack of water drops sitting on top of it. If you get caught in rainfall and the water streaks down from your car, it’s time to wax it.

Used Vehicles

Beware of the finish on used vehicles. If you buy a used vehicle, you should immediately wash and wax it if you believe the finish is worth maintaining because there’s a chance the previous owner didn’t wax it at all. There’s absolutely no way to know for sure.

The wax application is not a maintenance item that is documented. A color restorer and a paste wax should bring your new, used car up to speed. After that, you’re ready to go with your personal wash and wax routine.

What Is The Best Type of Wax?

It’s a good question because it really speaks to your preference.

You can get an adequate wax from a liquid wax, but professionals say paste wax does a better job.

Be sure not to confuse wax with car polish. Car polish is an abrasive product. It’s not a wax product. Read the label closely. Brazil Wax is the stuff you want. Any wax worth the price will have a high percentage content of carnauba, which is authentic car wax.

The pro of carnauba is that it’s water resistant. That’s why water forms little drops on top of it.

Carnuaba is also heat resistant, so it won’t soften until the temperature exceeds 179 degrees F. Carnauba is the essential ingredient in car wax.

Car polish removes stuff like dirt and grime that ordinary washing won’t get out, and it also fills in the clear coat scratches so it can completely eliminate surface scratches. This is worth noting because you can use a combination of polish and wax, but you also need to be schooled in how to use polish before you try it.

Using the right tools

A good wax finish can really be helped along with quality tools. You must understand that without a good wash, the wax finish might be subpar, so the tools you use begin with your car washing tools.

Get the tools right at each step in your process, like microfiber towels and a washing mitt for washing, and you’ll get a better result when you wax. When you wax the surface, use applicator pads and microfiber towels.


When maintaining your car, don’t forget to take care of the wax finish. The wax protects not only the clear coat, paint, and primer, but also the metal of the car body. The best way to maintain your car’s finish is to wash it and apply car wax on a schedule that fits your car.

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About The Author



I've been detailing cars for years. I love cars but more importantly, I love clean cars. I created this blog to share all of my knowledge around keeping cars as clean as possible.