How long does car wax last? [Complete Guide]

Your pride and joy is sitting on the driveway in the glorious spring sun. You have just washed and dried it but cannot decide if it needs a coat of wax?

It's been a while since its last wax job and you're not sure how long car wax lasts. If this is the case then read on and never have this dilemma again. Also, I can give you a more in-depth look at car waxes in general and their best results and conditions when to use them.

Firstly I want to just do some housework and establish that you are clear on the difference between

  • Waxing
  • Polishing

As I find many car owners are unclear on what each of these different processes is. If you already know the difference then please accept my apologies and skip the next two sections of this post

Waxing a car

This means applying a coat of wax onto the paintwork of your car to provide a hard protective surface that will prevent damage from road debris and weather.

Polishing a car

To polish a car means to use an abrasive “Polish” substance that will wear away the imperfections in the car's paint job or clear coat to make it shine more.

Which Car Wax Is Best Mothers Carmauba

I wanted to get this cleared up at the start as I have witnessed many people of the years “waxing” a car thinking they will make it “Shine” more!

They spend money on a good type of wax and hours applying it to the car paint, yet the paint finish is scratched and will not shine due to the imperfections defecting the light from your eye.

The process is

  • POLISH to shine
  • WAX to protect

Now that is cleared up, let's get on with understanding...

How long does car wax last?

The best way to answer this question is to understand that it depends on a couple of factors. The type of wax and the weather the car encounters.

Let's take a look at these in greater detail to enable you to make an informed decision.

Kinds of Wax

This will have the most impact. Using good kinds of wax is the single most important factor. They vary from the best carnauba wax (The traditional choice) to synthetic waxes and the latest paint sealants. 

They come in different forms from paste wax in a tin to liquid waxes in a bottle and as far as spray waxes which is liquid wax in a finer form enabling it to pass through a spray nozzle.

Best Carnauba Wax

The ole-time traditional detailers swear by paste wax.

They see the newer methods as much less effective as they do not take as much time and swear it takes hours of elbow grease and circular motions to properly apply a coat of wax.

I can see their point being a bit ole school myself, as I too really enjoy applying a good coat of wax.

However, with the durability of the wax method often being questioned it is important to stop and think.

Recent studies show that the newer type of protective coatings do last longer than this traditional method.

Liquid Waxes and Spray Waxes

Liquid waxes and spray waxes have developed well over the years and do provide good protection at certain times.

This type of wax was pioneered by the Meguiars brand in the USA. And their name is now synonymous with liquid wax such as their Quik Wax product.

I do believe they have a part to play in year-round car detailing, which I will do in more detail later in this post.

Synthetic Polymers Wax

Finally, we have the latest developments in paint sealants synthetic polymers which coat a car’s paint in a very hard protective layer.

The promoted advantage of this type of protective coating is that it often proves more durable, meaning that you will have to treat your car less often.

Therefore, if you want a wax that will last a long time then you could be better going for a Synthetic Polymer. But you may have to be happy with a not-so-deep shine as a good coat of Carnauba paste wax!

It really comes down to a personal choice which can also be governed somewhat by the amount of time you have available, as the latter types stated are much quicker to apply than the former

Whatever your choice, ensure it is from a top-quality, time-established manufacturer. Quality makes the difference every time and can greatly affect how long car wax lasts.

Weather Conditions

Once your car has its coat of wax the next important thing to consider is what the weather and other environmental factors have on your car’s paint. This especially applies to where it is parked during the day and night.

Direct Summer Sunlight

If your car is parked in direct sunlight every day, maybe whilst you are at work then the ultraviolet rays of the sun will gradually eat away at your coat of wax. 

The UV rays are absorbed into the layer of wax causing weak spots to occur and allowing the UV rays to damage the actual paint job. 

Car Polished in Sunlight

Therefore the wax on cars parked in strong direct sunlight all day will not last as long as the wax coat on a car that is stored in a cool garage each day for obvious reasons.

Choosing the right product designed to protect against UV rays can really help in these circumstances.

The harsh weather of Winter

The extremes of Winter weather are often the dread of serious car enthusiasts. Simply the thought of rock salt, ice, and snow hitting their car surface will give them second thoughts on making even the shortest of journeys.

If your car is a daily driver then you just have to grin and bear these severe conditions for the duration of Winter. Here your choice of protective coating is very important and the extra layer of protection is essential.

Collinite Insulator wax is an ideal Winter wax choice

Parked under trees

An important factor for car owners is to consider when parking your car, especially a new car if you're parking under trees.

Whilst this may protect your car from the effects of direct sunlight there are other dangers that lie in the shade!

You have to be aware of tree sap in Spring/Summer as this can be very difficult to remove and will definitely affect the durability of new wax and may even eat into layers of wax and car's finish.

Another factor under trees, especially if parked at night is bird droppings. These are equally if not more harmful than tree sap.

Cars parked under trees should be checked for bird droppings on a regular basis. As if left on for a long time then the acidic effects can cause damage, especially to old wax 

A simple do I wax my car check!

Water beading on a car bonnet after spray detailingb

The most simple check to make to see if your car needs waxing is to spray water from a hose all over it and watch for Water Beading.

This means if the water gathers up in small “beads” the wax is active. However, if it simply runs off then there is usually a definite need for regular waxing.

One other factor to consider here is would the car benefit from a clay bar session to remove all surface imperfections first?

Now we know the factors that attribute to answering the question of how long does car wax last. Let's take a look at the various durations according to the seasons and the type of car wax used.

How long does car wax last guide

Poor quality paste wax/ Harsh Summer and Winters/ Car outdoors 24/7

Up to 3 months

Good quality paste wax/ Harsh Summer and Winters/ Car garaged

Up to 6 months

Poor quality synthetic polymer wax/ Harsh Summer Winter/ Car outdoors 24/7

Up to 6 months

Good Quality synthetic polymer wax/ Harsh Summer Winter/ Car garaged

Up to 12 months

Suggested 12-month step guide for waxing a car for a long duration.

Spring Wax

This should be a good coat of top-quality paste wax. This will give your car the perfect wax finish and a deep shine for the Spring and Summer. Use a good carnauba wax and apply with a foam applicator and buff off with a microfiber cloth

Summer Wax

As the Summer temperatures increase and the sun's ultraviolet rays pound your car's surface can be a good idea to top up your car’s finish with a good UV protective spray wax. This will help the waxed car to absorb more of the UV rays without them penetrating the clear coat.

Autumn Wax

When the temperature starts to drop and the nights draw in then it is time to prepare your vehicle’s paint for the harsh winter ahead. You now have a choice of another paste wax on top of the last application or removing that coat and going with a synthetic polymer wax. If you have severe conditions in your part of the world and a long Winter then the synthetic polymer would be the way to go. As it would last until the Spring

Winter Wax

If you opt to go for another layer of carnauba wax finish then around early to mid-winter another coat of paste wax can be really helpful in boosting up the protective layer for the remaining months until the Spring wax.

We hope you now have a good idea of how long car wax lasts and your knowledge of car wax and protecting you car has increased.

Check back often as we are always adding new ideas.