How to wax your car in three easy steps

In today’s busy world, finding the time to wash our cars can be a hassle. That’s probably why automatic car wash businesses do so well. So it should be no surprise that the concept of waxing a vehicle is foreign to many people — partly because they don’t see the point, and also because they simply have no idea how to do it.

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, giving your car a coat of wax will make it gleam like it just came off the showroom floor. The other benefit of it is that it will help to protect the paint  — and make it easier to clean — from the abuses of everyday driving like splattered-on road tar, bird droppings, and so on. Follow these easy steps and your ride will be shiny and protected in no time.

Before you start

  • Make sure your car is clean and dry, so wash and wipe it down beforehand.
  • Pick up some wax. I’m partial towards the Mothers California Gold Brazilian Carnauba Cleaner Wax that comes in an easy-to-apply liquid form and helps to remove stubborn stains at the same time as well.
  • Have some clean cotton cloths on hand for the application and then the polishing afterwards. Try and choose something that is 100% cotton and durable so you can reuse it, like the ones from Scratch Protector that are colour-coded for different tasks and come in packs of three.
  • Find a cool, shady location like in a garage or under covered parking to avoid the hot sun baking on the wax.


3 steps to wax your car

  1. Squirt some cleaner wax onto the cloth (a little goes a long way), and choose one panel of a car to work on at a time. I normally start with the roof and then the hood and work my way towards the back of the car.
  2. Apply the wax in the same direction that the wind would flow over the car. In other words, use a front to back motion rather than circles, which can cause swirl marks in the paint. After you finish with a panel, leave it and move to the next one letting the wax sit for a while instead of immediately wiping it off.
  3. After the car is covered in a hazy white finish, it’s time to polish. Using another clean towel, buff off the wax using a similar technique to when you were initially applying it.

A few things to be mindful of: try and avoid getting wax on any black rubber trim because it can be annoying to remove later on. A big white dried blob kind of ruins the look of your newly spotless vehicle.

If you run your fingers over the paint and you still feel or see some bumps, you may need to use a clay bar first to remove any lodged in bits of dirt or grit.

That’s all there is to it! Now go out for a drive and show off the fruits of your labour.

Posted by Benjamin Yong

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5. Twitter: @b_yong Instagram: @popuplights