DETAILING MY CAR > How to Wax Your Car at Home

How to Wax Your Car at Home

Keeping a coat of wax on your car is the best defense

Remember how shiny and new all those old classic cars looked in the Karate Kid when Daniel-son finished waxing them? Your car can look just as good by follow a few simple steps when applying a protective coat of wax on your car. These tips are directed at how to wax your car at home and include a list of the supplies and tools needed for the job. Now, lets’ jump right in.

How Often Should a Car Be Waxed?

People always ask me how often they should wax their car. The answer depends on how often you have been washing your car. If you have not been washing your car on a consistent basis a thick layer of dirt and grime will build up between infrequent washes. This grime acts as an abrasive and removes whatever wax you may have on your car. In most cases if you’ve been washing your car regularly, you should wax your car at least twice a year. As a supreme car nut and OCD fanatic I like to wax my cars four times a year. Go ahead and do it even more if you are car crazy – just be 100% certain you are not using an abrasive type of wax. You don’t want to rub the paint off the car!

Car Waxing Supplies

The first step is to assemble the supplies (they can be found at every auto parts store) listed in the section below:

Wax: Choose a paste (canned) wax or a liquid. Some of my favorite brands are 3M Show Car paste wax, Mequire’s paste wax, or Nufinish liquid wax (this is actually more of an acrylic sealer and lasts a little longer than paste wax).

Masking Tape: Get the green or blue masking tape that is available at your local home improvement store in the paint isle.

Bug and Tar Remover: One of the old gentle products for this is Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover – once again available from your local auto parts store.

Wax Application Pad: You’ll need a foam or terry cloth wax application pad, choose whichever type you prefer to use.

Wipe Down Towels: The best and easiest to use towel in wax removal are the microfiber ones. These towels make removing the excess wax very easy and make the job go a lot faster. Get a few of them, trust me you’ll use them.

Wax On!

I have my stuff and it’s time to wax the car. Don’t forget to wash it first! You can check my post on how to wash a car the pro way.  Let’s begin with some basic techniques. First of all, make sure your car is completely dry.

1. Grab that roll of green or blue tape (I would never recommend using the old tan masking tape since it can leave some bad glue residue behind). Apply the tape to any plastic trim on the car. This will keep wax off the plastic. You don’t want to wax the plastic because it will dry white and never come off.

2. Wet the wax applicator pad and then fully wring it out so it is just moist. Take the applicator and rub it into the wax – or in the case of a liquid – pour a blob the size of a quarter on to it. When you rub on wax it isn’t done like your dad did in the old days. Back then paint was different and you needed to wax in little circles to dig down to a fresh layer of paint. Today, cars are painted in layers with the top most layer being a clear coat.

3. Apply the wax in side-to-side motions – no circles or you’ll see visible swirl marks when the car is in the sun. One word about the sun, always wax in the shade. Also it should also be at least fifty degrees out so the wax has a chance to set up before removal. Work in small sections. You don’t want to apply wax to the entire car at once. It will be too hard to get it off if you do it like that. Instead, apply wax to a 2 by 2 foot section at a time.

4. Let the wax set up on the paint for about a minute. Now, take your microfiber towel and remove the excess wax. Repeat this process on the whole car.

One note, I have seen people wax their cars windows. I don’t recommend doing this on the front windshield. Wax interferes with the performance of your windshield wiper blades. They just won’t work as well. As a rule of thumb wax is just for the paint.

Wax Off!

Once you’ve waxed the car in sections and removed the excess wax with the microfiber towel you can pay attention to the car as a whole. You will want to perform one last wipe down of the car. Take a fresh clean microfiber towel (not the one you’ve been using) and go over the whole car one last time. It’s just to make sure you get every bit of wax residue off the car. Now your car is sparkling and resistant to sun damage and dirt. Think of wax as a jacket for your car. Now you have a happy car.

So, now you know how to wax your car and what you’ll need to get the job done. The techniques I explained are the same as we used back in my auto detail days. Do this on a regular basis and your car will always look like it just came off the showroom floor. Why you may not know a Mr. Miyagi who can show you how to wax your car and simultaneously learn karate, you do have an auto detail pro at your disposal. That’s me. Feel free to ask any questions you might have on the process.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *