What Is Car Wax?

L. Hepfer

Car wax is a waxy substance that is rubbed onto a vehicle's exterior. It is then allowed to dry before being wiped off, creating a protective layer for the vehicle's paint and clear coat. Car wax is usually made from a mixture of carnauba wax and other natural waxes. The carnauba wax comes from the carnauba palm tree in the Brazilian rain forest. The tree produces the wax to coat and protect its leaves to keep in moisture during hot weather and is harvested only during certain months throughout the year. Wax is used in the same way to protect the exterior of a person's vehicle as the carnauba wax is used to protect the carnauba palm tree.

Car wax makes cars look shiny and attractive, and may increase a car's resale value.
Car wax makes cars look shiny and attractive, and may increase a car's resale value.

Auto enthusiasts use car wax on a regular basis to extend the life of a car. It places a protecting layer over the car's paint and clear coat that protects it from the ultraviolet rays of the sun, which can fade the color of a car's paint. It also protects the car from dirt, from road salt during inclement weather, and helps prevent rust. Wax can also be used to keep moisture off the paint and clear coat.

Car wax provides a protective layer for a vehicle's paint.
Car wax provides a protective layer for a vehicle's paint.

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How often a person waxes their vehicle should depend on a number of things. The environment that a car sits in should be taken into consideration. Inclement weather, road treatments and sunshine can all damage a vehicle's exterior look and value. The paint condition of the car should be taken into consideration as well, along with the quality of wax that is used to protect the car.

Car wax is produced primarily to coat and protect a person's vehicle, however, it is also great for producing a slick shine, making the person's vehicle attractive to not only auto enthusiasts everywhere but also to any average person walking down the street. The more wax that is applied, the more shine a person can achieve. Keeping a car shiny will improve its appearance and may also increase its resale value.

Car wax should not be confused with a paint sealant or car polish. While they can work in conjunction with one another, they are their own separate entities. Paint sealant is applied on top of a car's paint and clear coat, keeping the paint in its current condition. Car polish works as an abrasive cleaner and is primarily used for imperfections found on a vehicle. Car polish can reduce the appearance of small scratches. Wax can be placed on top of a paint sealant or car polish to add another protecting layer while also adding shine.

Car wax protects a car's paint from the sun's ultraviolet rays.
Car wax protects a car's paint from the sun's ultraviolet rays.

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Discussion Comments


Tip of the day: clay bar before you use anything. Products placed over baked-in dirt make "halos" in your paint!


I started to notice the paint on my car starting to fade so I began applying a protectant wax. It seems to be working. My car is a metallic blue color and the color has been about the same for two or three years now.


I use this combination car wash wax on my car. It cleans the car and also leaves a pretty solid coat of wax on the finish. It is not as good as some other waxes I have tried but it is so much easier.

I like the way my car looks with a little wax on it but the process can be so tedious. I don't keep my car looking good because I like the process of keeping it looking good. I do it because I like the look. If I can get that look without all the work I'll do it.

I have a perfectly restored 67 Corvette that is my pride and joy. I did all the work myself. It looked terrible when I bought it but over two long years I replaced just about everything bumper to bumper and now it is perfect condition.

It is black and it looks amazing with a good coat of wax on it. I do it about once every two weeks. Honestly, I probably spend more time keeping it looking good than I actually do driving it.

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