Can You Wax a Car in the Sun? Everything You Should Know


If you live in a sunny climate, you may struggle to find a cooler day to wax your car, so you may be wondering if it is actually ever safe to wax a car in direct sunlight. In this article, I’ll be answering this question in plenty of detail so you know where to go from here. So let’s get started.

The Quick Answer

Most waxes cannot be applied in direct sunlight because they will dry too quickly and be very difficult to remove. Try to either use a wax formulated for use in direct sunlight, or apply it in the shade. Applying the product in small sections at a time, and thinner layers will also help.

Some Waxes Are Better Than Others

Some waxes can be applied in direct sunlight, whereas others definitely can’t. It depends on the formulation used and how hard it “cures”.

Most waxes are applied in a thin layer, then left to dry or “cure” which occurs when they are no longer a smooth paste on the surface, but instead form a chalky layer.

Some waxes cure very hard, which means that the wax is difficult to remove after applying. Whereas others buff away very easily.

Generally, spray waxes are the safest to apply in the sun because they are usually less concentrated so will not cure as hard. Paste and liquid waxes tend to cause a bigger issue when applied in direct sunlight.

However, it does depend on what brand of wax you’re using. Here’s a quick list of some of the most popular waxes that are safe to apply in the sun.

Waxes That CAN Be Applied in Direct Sunlight

  • Adam’s Buttery Wax
  • Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax
  • Pinnacle XMT
  • Poorboy’s Natty’s Paste Wax
  • Turtle Wax Ice Liquid Wax

Always check the bottle/ tub first. If there is no mention of the product being safe to apply in direct sunlight, then don’t use it on warm paint.

It Depends on the Temperature

There can be a bit of a grey area when it comes to deciding what sunny weather actually is, and if it’s safe enough to wax or not. Some waxes definitely cannot be applied unless the panels are cool to the touch, e.g Soft99 Fusso coat, but others can be applied if the panels are slightly warm, just not very hot.

If you’re unsure, then it’s best to ere on the side of caution. Unless the wax or sealant you’re using explicitly says it is safe to use in direct sunlight, then I don’t recommend using it on panels that are even slightly warm.

Always check the paint temperature first using the back of your hand after it has been freshly washed and dried.

Work Faster and in Small Areas

If you plan to apply your wax when the panels are slightly warm, or in the sun, then you’ll need to work quickly and in small areas. This helps prevent the wax from curing too hard, and making it very difficult to buff off afterwards.

You should only apply the wax in a small section, no larger than a quarter the size of the hood. Then keep checking if the wax has cured.

You’ll know if this has happened by running your finger through a section of wax. If it chalks up and leaves a clean surface, it’s ready to buff off. If it smears, then it needs longer to cure.

Use Thinner Layers

Applying the wax in thin layers is also beneficial if you’re working in hotter conditions. This again stops the wax from curing too hard, making the excess difficult to buff away.

The wax layer should be as thin as possible, even when the temperatures aren’t that hot, to avoid wasting wax. A lot of car owners make the mistake of thinking that the thicker the layer of wax that’s applied, the better the protection.

But there is a limit to how much wax can actually stick to the paintwork. When it comes time to buff it away, you’ll end up buffing all the excess away, to leave the same amount of protection on the car than if you applied a thinner layer.

Make sure your applicator pad is evenly coated with wax, and there are no excess clumps. Then spread it thinly and evenly over the paintwork.

Try and Park Inside or Near Buildings

Of course, if you have the option, then you should always try and park in the shade. Your best bet, is to try and park it next to a building to help shield it from the sun.

Avoid parking your car under trees as it can cause a bigger issue. Birds sitting in the tree, will inevitably make a mess all over your freshly washed vehicle. And tree sap can drip onto the paint, which can be a nightmare to remove.

Avoid Midday

If you can’t find any shade, then try to wax your car in the early morning, or later in the evening. This is typically when it tends to be cooler, and will help to avoid the wax from curing too hard.

Waxing your car between 11:00-17:00 is usually a bad idea, especially if you live in a particularly hot climate. It’s an uphill battle, and you’ll usually be left with a sub-par streaky finish. So stick to the times in the day when the sun isn’t directly above.

Protecting Your Car From the Sun

Not only does the sun cause an issue when you’re planning to wax the car, but it also causes a problem when you’re washing the car. When you wash a car in the sun, the water and shampoo will dry on the paintwork. This causes water spots and soap stains which can damage the paintwork unless quickly removed.

You should also consider the effect the sun is having on your car on a day-to-day basis. Here are some of the effects.

  • Causes plastic and rubber trim to fade
  • Increases the risk of water spots
  • Causes contaminants to bond to the exterior faster
  • Accelerates fading of leather, interior plastics and fabrics
  • Causes the paintwork to fade over-time

Check out these 9 essential tips to protect your car from the sun.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ve found this article useful. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the website to learn loads more about making your car look its best.

Heather

I first became interested in car detailing around 3 years ago and learnt all the main techniques on my very first car. I spend a lot of time detailing my current car, and trying to keep my family's cars looking presentable too!

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