The 10 Best Car Waxes

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This wiki has been updated 28 times since it was first published in March of 2016. From the primer to the polish, every part of a car's finish makes a difference, and a regular waxing is one of the most important steps for keeping your vehicle looking great. There are liquid and paste options available, as well as natural and synthetic, offering various levels of gloss and protection, but all of which can impart a professional shine to any car or truck. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. P21S Carnauba

2. Meguiar's NXT Generation Tech 2.0

3. Chemical Guys JetSeal and 50/50 Combo

Editor's Notes

February 01, 2021:

When we find a good car wax that provides that showroom shine we are looking for and which effectively protects our paint job, it takes a lot to get us to switch to a new one. After careful review of the options on the market, we didn't find any that could outperform our current recommendations that were in the same class when considering the cost and ease of use of a specific wax. As such, we didn't made any changes to the list during this update.

August 22, 2019:

If you want your car to keep that showroom finish for as long as possible, regular waxing is a must. It protects your clear coat from UV and elemental damage so the paint underneath keeps its integrity. However, we do realize that for some, waxing their vehicle is a laborious job they'd like to avoid, which is why we included extremely long-lasting options like Chemical Guys JetSeal and 50/50 Combo and Collinite 845 Insulator. With both of these, you'll only have to wax your car a couple of times a year. Chemical Guys JetSeal and 50/50 Combo is often used for concours-level restoration, too, so the results are impressive to say the least.

P21S Carnauba and S100 Paste come from the same company and are both premium products that many auto details swear by. Neither contains any chemical additives, being made from a combination of carnuba and beeswax, and both will last through a few washes while maintaining their water beading capabilities.

While pastes often produce a better end result, this is not a hard and fast rule. We have found many liquid options that work just as well, and with the added bonus of being easier to apply and wipe off. These include Meguiar's NXT Generation Tech 2.0, Collinite 845 Insulator, CarGuys Premium Liquid, Chemical Guys Extreme Depth, and Meguiar's G18220 Ultimate. However, for those who want the simplest and quickest way to keep a protective wax job on their vehicle, even at the sacrifice of longevity and finish, we recommend Griot's Garage Spray-On. You simply spray it on your vehicle at the end of your wash while the car is still damp, and wipe it away as you dry the car.

Always keep in mind that no matter what wax you choose, it is important to wash your car with good soap before applying it.

Special Honors

Chemical Guys Project J97 This ultra-refined wax goes through a nine-state filtering process. In addition to high-quality white Brazilian carnuba, it contains a proprietary blend of rare oils, fruit and nut extracts, and an aerospace industry sealant that allows it to give up to 12 months of shine protection. However, while the results speak for themselves, it will cost you an arm and a leg.

Wolfgang Füzion Carnauba-Polymer Estate Wax Part of their concours series, this handcrafted option contains German super polymers that allow it to produce a gloss and depth few other synthetics can match. Also, it effectively repels water, airborne particulate, and UV rays, providing your vehicle with a high level of protection.

4. Collinite 845 Insulator

5. S100 Paste

6. CarGuys Premium Liquid

7. Chemical Guys Extreme Depth

8. Meguiar's G18220 Ultimate

9. Griot's Garage Spray-On

10. Zymol Carbon

The Importance Of Waxing A Car

While a driver may be safe from them inside of their car, their vehicle's paint job is not.

Many drivers overlook the importance of waxing their car, including those who otherwise take great care of their vehicle. But waxing one's car is not just an option; it's mandatory to keeping the vehicle in good condition. The air you drive through is full of contaminants. While a driver may be safe from them inside of their car, their vehicle's paint job is not. Many of these contaminants can get stuck on your car and cause corrosion to its paint job. The only way to fix this is to repaint one's car, which is quite expensive. Wax can prevent these airborne contaminants from reaching your paint.

Having a coat of wax on your car also makes it much easier to clean. Because the nature of wax is slicker than paint, it's easier to remove things like harmful tree sap or bird feces. Drivers of red and blue cars especially can't afford to skip wax. Studies show that birds love to defecate on these brightly colored vehicles more so than any other color car. Regularly waxing a car can also reduce the frequency that it requires detailing.

There is little one can do about tiny pieces of asphalt or rocks that fly up and hit their car while they drive, so protecting a car is the best option. Damage from these small flying particles is reduced when there is a fresh coat of wax covering the paint job. This is because wax reduces the friction on the surface of a vehicle and makes it more likely that small particles will bounce right off, rather than chip the paint. For those with previously damaged paint jobs, car wax can fill in small scratches and dings to make them less noticeable. Ultimately, nothing produces that new car shine like a good car wax can.

Traits Of A Great Car Wax

When searching for the best car wax, one should check the product details to ensure that it is safe to put on all vehicle surfaces, including chrome trim and plastic fenders or bumpers. As with any product that is designed to protect an item, skimping on quality to save money will most likely wind up costing more money in the future. For this reason, a car wax should be purchased based on the features it offers, not the price of the container. Better quality car waxes will be thicker, last longer, and allow water to bead up and drip off quicker. Paste-based waxes typically last the longest.

Those not fortunate enough to have a car with the new paint that's made from glass, which reflects sunlight and helps keep the interior cooler, need to protect their paint job from harmful UV rays. All good quality waxes will protect a car once applied, but many cannot be applied in direct sun, instead requiring a shady area like a garage or covered car port. If an area such as this is not available to you, double check the product instructions to ensure it can be applied in sunlight.

Car waxes that are free of harsh solvents and volatile organic compounds are a smart choice as there is no chance of them adversely affecting the car's paint job over time. They are also better for the environment and human health. Some car waxes come in convenient spray on bottles, which can be a preferable application method for those who would like to avoid getting their hands dirty.

A History Of Car Detailing

Germany allegedly made the very first wax in the early 1800s and the country is still a major player in the automobile finishing products industry. They are one of the top producers of montan wax. In 1886, Karl Benz made the first gasoline-powered production vehicle, which ushered in the need for polishing compounds. Menzerna developed the first line of car waxes and are still making top quality detailing products to this day.

Another automobile detailing company that was a pioneer for its time is Meguiar's. They began as a furniture polishing company, but the emergence of horseless carriages made the company turn their attention to vehicle polish. Meguiar's original furniture wax was comprised from egg whites. In 1910, a man named George Simons developed a carnauba wax specifically for cars. Over the following half a century, different inventors and automotive detailing companies came out with masking tape that allowed for precision paint jobs, a polymer sealant, and the first bottled car wax.

The 1990s saw the invention of detailing clay, which was a resin product that removes surface contaminants that traditional car washes cannot. In the early 2000s, PPG Industries came out with their product CeramiClear, which prevented damage from UV rays, acid rain and salt. Clear paint sealants have only been available since the year 2007.

Brett Dvoretz
Last updated by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.

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