If you want to make your car look great and protect it from the environment, then you should regularly apply wax to your vehicle. The only issue is, how “regularly” should you do it? I’ve talked to people who wax their car weekly, and others that do it once every few years. The correct frequency is somewhere between those two extremes.
It’s not mechanically or technically bad to wax your car too often. The only downside is that you’re wasting wax product, your time, and expending energy you don’t need to. You could wax your car every day if you wanted to, but you don’t have to wax your car that often. In general, you should only be waxing every 3 to 4 months.
In this beginner’s guide, I’ll tell you how often you should wax your car, and if it’s bad to wax your car every week. I’ll even talk through some of the science and offer some alternatives to help you out.
The Purpose of Waxing
Waxing deals with a few problems at the same time. It prevents water buildup, protects from the sun and UV rays, prevents corrosion, and keeps your paint protected from tree sap, bird droppings, pollen, and more.
On top of that, waxing makes your car look really shiny. Waxing is part of the many detailing steps that owners will do before putting their car on display somewhere or auctioning it off.
You can think of wax as the catchall for taking care of your car. It protects it and makes it look great. The only thing it doesn’t do is clean the car or remove scratches.
How Waxing Works
Wax is applied directly to your car’s topcoat. The wax will harden into a solid, thin layer on top of your clear coat. Once it hardens, it will stay there until it naturally wears away.
Things like dirt in the air, direct sunlight, and contaminants will scrape away layers of wax. Over time, the wax will completely wear away and your car’s topcoat will be exposed again. This is the main reason why wax has to be reapplied in the first place.
The Variables for Waxing Frequency
I’ve lived in a few different areas, and I learned a lot about different variables that change how often you should wax your car. Here are some of the bigger ones.
Above everything else, I’ve learned that the air quality in your area will change how often you need to wax. If the air is highly polluted, then the wax will wear off much quicker. If you live near an industrial area, then you’ll have to wax more often than your buddy who lives in the suburb.
Where You Park
Perhaps the biggest factor is where you park. Parking outside will require you to reapply wax much more frequently. Since your car is always outside, it doesn’t get a break from UV rays, heat, rain, and airborne contaminants.
The best case is to park inside, in an enclosed garage. It helps you stay away from almost everything that wears away your wax.
How Often You Drive
You’ll also have to look at how often you drive. It’s a simple fact that daily drivers need to be waxed more often than garaged weekend cars.
As you drive along, particles in the air will start to wear out your wax and rub it away. That means that the less time spent driving equates to your wax staying intact for longer.
This doesn’t mean that you should never drive your car. You just need to realize that you will have to wax it more often.
What Product You’re Using
Another thing I learned is that the product you choose can change everything. I used to just apply an inexpensive wax by hand every once in a while. That product would wear out so fast you wouldn’t even believe it.
I swapped to using a polisher to apply a high-quality wax and now I can go months at a time before I need to reapply the wax.
Spending more on high-quality wax means that you can apply it less often. If you factor in how much your time costs, this could actually mean that you save money in the long run.
In addition, spray waxes are known to last less often. To get the best results, use a synthetic or carnauba wax and apply it with a polisher.
Is It Bad to Wax Your Car Every Week?
I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily bad to wax your car every week. It’s not like you’re damaging the topcoat or harming your car in any way. The only downside is that you’re wasting your time and money if you wax routinely every week. In a lot of cases, you don’t need to wax that often.
It’s a different story if you ask about applying a ceramic coating too often. With wax, it’s just a thin layer of product going on top of your topcoat. It wears away relatively quickly, and there’s no downside to piling it up.
Truthfully, you could wax every single day and you won’t damage your car. Part of the heat and friction used to apply fresh wax will get rid of old wax. Plus, when you wash and polish your car, you’ll be removing a lot of the existing wax.
When you apply new wax and you still have wax on your car, you’ll just be adding a layer on top of the existing wax.
The short answer is that it’s not bad to wax your car every week, and it’s not bad to over-wax your vehicle.
The Right Frequency for Car Waxes
If you want to stick to the best routine, you should wax your car a handful of times each year. Personally, I do it every quarter, so it’s between 3 and 4 waxes a year. That’s the duration that I usually notice that my wax is wearing away thanks to the touch test.
Again, this is highly dependent based on the variables I outlined earlier.
Test the Life of Your Wax
There are a few quick ways to see if you need to apply a new layer of wax. Wax is used to make your car hydrophobic, meaning that water will bead up and roll away instead of lingering on the hood. You can use this to your advantage when it comes to testing the life of your wax.
You can do this one of two ways. First off, you can use a simple touch test. To do this, just run your finger along the body of the car. If the wax is healthy and present, then your finger will glide across the surface.
Some detailers say that you can drop a microfiber towel on the hood of your car, and if it slides off then the wax is fine. If your finger squeaks across and there’s a lot of resistance to sliding, then you might be due for new wax.
The other option is to pour some water on the hood of your car and observe its behavior. If the water stays in one place and coats the hood, then your wax is probably gone. If the water beads up and rolls away, leaving you with a dry hood, then the wax is fine.
If your wax fails either of these tests, then you can wax your car, regardless of when your last wax was. I’ve had times where I applied a spray wax and the very next week I was due to reapply it since my car failed the touch test.
Look at Your Car After Waxing
There’s another way to tell if you are overdoing it with the wax. After you apply wax to your car, take a step back and examine your work. If your car still looks dull, hazy, and not as slick as you were expecting, then you might have just waxed a layer of wax.
When the wax is applied to your topcoat, it makes the car look shiny and really sleek from the outside. As wax piles up on top of existing wax, the shine becomes duller and less impressive.
Alternatives to Car Wax
If you like the protective qualities of wax, you actually have a few different options. The following two choices will last longer than wax, and they will provide the same type of effects.
A ceramic coating is the ultimate standard when it comes to protecting your car. This gets caked on and becomes a second skin for your vehicle. The ceramic is scratch resistant and very resistant to water. In fact, it does everything that wax does except provide a nice shine.
Ceramic coatings can last years before you need to reapply them. They sometimes require a little bit of maintenance over the years, but it’s as simple as spraying a product and wiping it in.
The downside is that a good ceramic coating from a professional could run you around a thousand dollars. They generally last 3 to 5 years, so you’ll need to do the math and compare that to how much you spend on waxes each year.
The key difference is that you won’t need to rewax your car every few months. These saved mornings can be used doing anything else.
A sealant is used to lock in your paint and protect the color from UV and natural damage. Unlike ceramic coatings, they make your car look really shiny and neat.
Sealants don’t last as long as ceramic coatings, but they last longer than waxes. In addition, they’re a lot easier to apply and require no tooling at all. You’ll probably only need to reapply it twice a year or so.
Now you understand how car wax works. It’s not bad to wax your car every week, but it’s a big waste of time, money, and product. Instead, wax your car every 3 to 4 months, as needed.
If you liked this guide, you should look at the other posts on my site. I have plenty of DIY guides to help you through the car-owning experience. I also have a list of products that can help you just as much. Drop a comment below if this guide was helpful, or if you have a car question that you want to be answered.