How to Wax a Car

While paint protects the metal of your vehicle, wax protects the paint. It’s important to wax your car to give your paint a protective layer from outside elements and debris like rain. Learn how to wax a car with tips in this article and videos.

Car Waxing Tips: How to Wax Your Car

Waxing a car

Why Should You Wax Your Car?

Waxing your car is a way to protect the paint. Paint is there to protect the metal, and the paint needs to be protected from the elements like rain and wind. Wax can bead off water instead of letting it absorb into the paint, and if you don’t protect the paint, it can chip, fade, dull, and rust. Wax also adds shine, and you might have to re-paint your car later if you choose not to wax it.

How to Wax a Car

General steps to wax a car by hand

  1. Pick a Cool Day and Wax in the Shade

    Don’t wax on a hot day so the wax doesn’t bake in the sun. Wax in the shade with the car cooled. You don’t want to wax in the heat, because even if you’re waxing in the shade a hot car will melt the wax. If the wax is melted, it will be harder to buff off. Otherwise, the wax will remove easily.

  2. Wash the Car

    Wash the car with soap and water and clean the car of any debris.

  3. Spread the Wax in Circular Clockwise Motions

    Read and follow the directions on the bottle.

    Apply the product to the paint and spread it in small circular motions, creating small circles in a counterclockwise motion with a microfiber wax pad.

    There are different kinds of wax, such as paste and spray wax. With spray wax, you just have to spray in different directions, but, generally, you’ll spray the wax on and spread it with a microfiber towel, let the wax dry, and then buff it afterwards.

  4. Wax Close to the Edge of Trim but Do Not Get Wax on Trim Pieces

    Pay attention to any trim on your car if you’re waxing near it, and especially if you’re using paste wax. Don’t get wax on the trim or pieces of black plastic, and if you do, wipe it off immediately. The wax will turn the trim white and it will not come off.

    When adding the wax, you don’t need to go up to the seam of the trim, but you can get as close to the edge as possible without touching any trim pieces. You can also protect the trim during this job by laying painter’s tape over it.

  5. Remove the Wax with a Microfiber Towel, Wiping in the Direction of the Wind

    Remove the wax with a microfiber towel. Don’t make circular motions, but move in the direction of the wind.

  6. Test the Wax By Tossing Water on and Seeing If It Beads Up and Rolls Off

    Once the wax has dried, to test if you need to wax your car, toss water on the paint. If it beads up and rolls off, no more wax is needed. If it absorbs into the paint or sits on top of it, it’s time to wax.

    Water beading up and off will prevent rust and corrosion. It will also prevent the paint and clear coat from chipping and peeling.

Learn how to wax a car yourself with quality auto parts, tools, and tips at

Learn How to Do More Than Wax a Car

Find out how to do more than wax a car. 1A Auto’s how-to videos have instructions and diagnostics to repair parts on hundreds of makes and models with tips from our experts.

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How to Wax a Car with Paste Wax or Spray Wax - Expert Tips - 1A Auto
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How to Wax a Car with Paste Wax or Spray Wax - Expert Tips - 1A Auto
Learn how to wax a car and pick up some extra tips as our mechanic Andy reviews how to apply your own wax, why it's important, and more in this article and video
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1A Auto
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