A matte finish is fine if you intentionally paint your car that way. It’s less than desirable, however, when the finish dulls from a losing battle with the elements. Keeping and protecting a showroom gloss isn’t so difficult when you know how to wax your car, and here are some tips to remember.
What you need. Gather foam or microfiber applicators to spread the wax, plus clean microfiber cloths or lint-free towels for removal. Cotton swabs or a soft-bristled toothbrush are handy for catching accumulated wax in tight spots around emblems and trim.
As for the wax itself, look to your owner’s manual for recommendations on wax formulations—not to mention cautions against certain types that may harm the clear coat or finish. With that knowledge, you can select a wax that delivers the best protection and results. Finally, don’t overlook the intangibles you need: focus, patience and enough time to wax a car correctly.
Conditions you need. Anything on a car’s body will be sealed in under wax, dirt included. That’s worth remembering as you plan your work. Begin with a properly washed and dried surface. It’s also great to use a clay bar or other cleaner after the wash to remove contaminants left behind. If you want to polish the car for extra shine, do it after washing and cleaning but before waxing. Park out of direct sunlight and make sure the body is cool to the touch.
Wax on. With your applicator, apply wax in a circular overlapping motion to a single section at a time. You’ll want enough product on the pad for sufficient coverage, but not so much that you saturate. Resist any temptation to let the wax fully dry onto the surface in hopes of adding protection, as you will most likely leave scratches trying to remove it all.
Wax off. With your clean cloth or towel, use a portion of it to start removing the excess wax. Then, use another clean section to finish the area. Repeat this two-step process across the rest of the car, and change towels often enough so as not to redeposit wax onto the car. If you spot any wax you missed around nameplates or badges, this is a chance to gently remove it with the swabs or toothbrush.
Repeat in due time. The frequency to wax a car hinges on several factors. How you drive and store your car, the wax you use and your personal preference will all come into play. Doing this at least a few times a year will keep your finish looking fresher and protected from the elements.