Which Type Of Car Wax Is Best For You?

September 24, 2016

One of the most noticeable drawbacks in owning a car – if you could consider this a drawback – is its eventual degradation both internally and externally. Since this will inevitably happen as the effect of usage, car maintenance has always been a present factor to ensure that you can prevent it for as long as possible. In most cases, though, when talking about your car’s finish, it’s not enough to only wash your car to remove the accumulating dirt and grime, even if you’re doing it once a week. You need to take extra care and exert a little more effort in choosing and using what is the best car wax for your automobile.

In actuality, waxing your car with the best car wax that delivers the results you seek will result in a far better performance than only having your car washed. This is because the wax used in cars acts as a barrier against the elements that could otherwise degrade–or in some cases, destroy–the car’s finish. Keeping waxing as part of your regular maintenance regimen will help you protect your car from unsightly fading and scratching and even resolve some of these issues once they arise.

However, due to the fact that there are lots of car finish maintenance products out there, it’s very easy to mistake your regular car wax for a car polish and vice versa. Although they offer the same thing in the end, which is keeping your car’s shine in tip-top shape, they could not be any more different in their intended use and results. To know exactly how they differ, here is a side-by-side comparison of car wax and car polish.

The difference between car wax and car polish

Although both car polish and car wax are products used in helping to protect your vehicle’s shell from the outside elements, they are very different items in terms of when and how often you should use them. Here is a simple walkthrough on what to expect from both car polish and car wax in terms of their use. So what is the difference between car polish vs. wax?

Car Polish

In simplest terms, car polish is used to remove grease, dirt, scrapes and scratches that cannot be otherwise removed by simple washing. If you ever see swirl marks or small scratches on your car or whenever it has lost its sheen and you noticed a dim-like effect to the overall finish, then it is time to use car polish. It mostly comes in the form of creams or sprays and liquids with a majority of them containing abrasive solvents that remove those impurities in order to allow your paint to shine.

However, polishes are different from waxes such that the polish will remove those scratches and other imperfections but will not protect the finish from grime or dirt after its application. This makes it a good thing to do before waxing as you can allow the paint to be free from those imperfections before reinforcing a barrier provided by the wax. You need to be careful, though, as too much polishing in general can take off too much of the paint, due to the polish’s natural abrasiveness.

Car Wax

Ironically, the car wax acts as a kind of ‘nail polish’ to your car’s finish. Although it’s called nail polish, what it really does is leave behind a protective cover on your nail when you use it. The same theory is applied to car wax which protects your car with a layer of wax that acts as a barrier between it and your car’s natural paint job. Wax also acts as a natural paint sealant, so if you use it on a car topped with dirt or stains, then the wax will also seal that on the car. Wax also helps with protection against UV rays and most of the pollution you will encounter while driving. Most of all, the wax minimizes the amount of moisture that can come into contact with your car’s paint as water can cause corrosion.

Since waxes are also sealants, it will help to do a thorough washing before waxing. If there are any imperfections left after the washing, polishing can help with that, and only after you’ve ridded your car of all of those imperfections should you wax it. Contrary to some people’s belief that waxing can harm the car, it can be very beneficial if you use the right kind of wax and apply it evenly and thinly enough. With the proper application technique, it will be your car’s best protection against severe degradation from the elements.

To know when to use which, it’s worth noting that polishing should be done only on a case-to-case basis, like if your car suffers from scratches or some rusting. Frequent polishing is harmful to your car’s paint, and as such, it should be done as sparingly as possible. Waxing, however, should be done as soon as the wax from your previous application fades away. This depends on the lifetime of the wax which in turn also varies from the type of wax and what the manufacturers say about it. If you want the best possible results, regular waxing should be done on a basis of about 1-3 months in order to maintain your car’s sheen as good-looking as possible.

Determining the best car wax for your needs and purposes

After you’ve disseminated the difference between a car polish and a car wax, the next natural step would involve the proper knowledge of what the types of car waxes are available for you to purchase and what would best serve your specific purposes. Knowing this is easy enough provided that you know what the most basic types of car waxes are. These are the:

  • Carnauba / Natural Wax
  • Synthetic Waxes / Paint Sealants

These differ vastly from carnauba. They last for a longer time than carnauba, they are relatively easier to apply because of their liquid form and there is nothing absolutely natural about them. All the technology from synthetic waxes was gathered from the science of car surfaces.

Usually, these paint sealants are made of polymers which are composed of tens of thousands of synthetic particles linked piece by piece. Together, they form a rigid shell whenever you apply them to your vehicle’s paint. Unlike a carnauba wax lining that seemingly melts into the paint itself, synthetic waxes sit atop your car’s paint like a transparent suit of armor. Though by themselves they can be quite slick, they will never match up to the same sheen that you can get from using carnauba wax.

Because of their availability, paint sealants have gotten more popular as time progressed. Due to the fact that the industry is also driven now by the technology that is being developed, an engineered, non-natural paint protector is a favorite among many detailers.

The real selling point of a paint sealant, however, is its durability and reliability. Premium synthetic waxes can go anywhere from 4 up to 6 months before there is any real need to reapply. Even more high-quality brands can offer up to a year of protection. The ‘lasting’ term pertains to how long it can go before the water on the paint surface stops beading and the pollutant protections starts to wane.

For car owners who spend a better deal of their time driving than what they have for maintenance, paint sealants are the way to go because of their easier application, more affordable costs and overall easier maintenance.


In choosing the best car wax for what you intend to achieve and use it for, it’s worth considering how much time you have on your hands in performing the maintenance necessary to maintain it. If you are a real enthusiast who prides himself on the smallest details of his automobile, then a carnauba wax might fit you more since it can offer much more shine, provided you have the resources for it – both time and finances. If you are, however, an owner who rarely has enough time for more maintenance, then the paint sealants are more convenient for you because of their ease of use and dependability.

Though both types boast different benefits and offer unique effects to your finish that the other cannot rival, you should consider how much your car is used and the environment and conditions it is usually exposed to. This will also help determine which type is a better fit. At the end, it all boils down to whether you prefer presentation or protection, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have both. Good luck!

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