Most car owners want to know how long a wax will last before applying or buying, to make sure it’s worth their while.
There are tonnes of waxes on the market, which all have different durability potential, so in this article, I’ll go through popular options, real-world examples on my car and how to get the most longevity out of the wax.
The Quick Answer
Most car waxes last between 2-3 months. Spray waxes last 2-4 weeks, whilst liquid and paste waxes often last up to 3 months. Natural carnauba-based waxes generally do not last as long as synthetic waxes, which can last up to 1 year.
Average Durability of Waxes
There are many different car waxes on the market, all offering slightly different durability. Here is a list of some of the most popular car waxes, and how long they will last in ideal conditions when the paint is prepared properly according to the manufacturer.
|Type of Wax
|Natural or Synthetic?
|Meguiar’s Ultimate Quik Wax
|Blackfire Carnauba Spray Wax
|P21S Carnauba Wax
|Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax
|Meguiar’s Gold Class Paste Wax
|GYEON Q² Wax
|Soft99 King of Gloss
|Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid Wax
|Bilt Hamber Double Speed Wax
|Meguiar’s Ultimate Paste Wax
|Pyramid Car Care Ceramic Wax
|Soft99 Fusso Coat
I have listed in the table above, whether the wax is classified as natural (Carnauba-based) or synthetic. However, this refers to what the product is marketed as. In reality, a lot of the waxes have both synthetic and natural components. It is rare to get a purely natural wax, although you can get a purely synthetic wax quite easily.
- Spray waxes are less durable than paste and liquid waxes
- Synthetic-based waxes are usually more durable than natural Carnauba-based waxes
- The average wax lasts around 3 months, but can last as little as a couple or weeks, or up to a year
Looking for the best car care products to keep the paintwork protected? Make sure you check out my recommended products page for all my current top picks.
Real-World Durability Testing
In the section above, we assessed maximum durability, based on the “ideal conditions”.
However, in most cases, a wax will not last as long as it says on the back of the tin, because often the cars are subjected to harsher environments and not prepared as well as possible for waxing.
Also, some people have different opinions over when a wax has failed and is no longer protecting the paint. This is often judged by the level of water repellency, however some may consider a wax to be have failed if they notice any dip in performance from the day it was applied, and others simply when there is no water sheeting or beading whatsoever.
In this next section, I’ll go through some popular waxes that I’ve tried and how long they lasted compared to their maximum durability claims. In all cases, the car was decontaminated before application.
P21S Carnauba Wax
- Maximum durability is around 1 month
- Durability on my car was 2-3 weeks
I noticed a significant decline in performance after 2 weeks of using P21S Carnauba wax, when maintained with pH neutral snow foam and shampoo. When washed with alkaline snow foam, the wax completely failed after 1 wash, only a week after application.
You can see my review of this wax on YouTube.
Pyramid Car Care Ceramic Wax
- Maximum durability is around 5-6 months
- Durability on my car was around 3-4 months
Pyramid Car Care Ceramic Wax lasted around 3-4 months on my car, which isn’t too far away from its durability claim of 5-6 months. I started to notice a decline in performance after 3 months of use, however I would consider reapplication necessary at the 4 month mark.
Soft99 Fusso Coat
- Maximum durability is 12 months
- Durability on my car was 10 months
Soft99 Fusso Coat is a very durable wax and lasted around 10 months on vehicles that I have used it on. These cars were well prepared by decontaminating and maintained using both pH neutral and alkaline wash products. The wax is very chemically resistant so is capable of lasting for most of the year.
Looking for a durable wax option? Check out my guide to ceramic waxes which are well known for their excellent longevity.
Why Do Some Waxes Last Longer than Others?
There are four factors which influence how long a wax will last on a car’s paintwork:
- The formulation of the wax
- How the wax is applied
- How the paintwork is prepared
- How the car is maintained
Formulation of the Wax
Car waxes can be made from many different chemicals. Some of the most common are: carnauba wax, beeswax, montan wax, silicon dioxide, and PTFE.
In general, waxes that contain natural components such as carnauba wax, beeswax and montan wax are less durable compared to waxes which contain synthetic components such as PTFE and silicon dioxide.
Part of the reason for this is that the synthetic components are often more chemically resistant compared to natural waxes which means they’ll be able to withstand more washes.
The state and consistency of the wax will also make a difference too. Typically, paste and liquid waxes that are applied to the paintwork and left to cure then buffed away last longer than spray waxes that are wiped on and buffed off almost instantly.
If a wax isn’t applied in the correct way then it will not last as long on the paintwork. There is a huge level of variation in the way that different waxes are applied so its vital that you follow the manufacturers instructions which dictate the number of layers and curing time required.
Waxes also ideally need to be left alone for a few days after application so shouldn’t be subjected to any chemicals to ensure it can fully cure.
It’s also worth noting that applying a wax in cold temperatures can affect the curing process as some waxes find it very difficult to cure if the temperature is below 5°C (41°F). Conversely, if it is very hot then some waxes will not work properly either. This is why they should be applied out of direct sunlight.
If there is already another product on the car’s paintwork such as another wax, sealant, glaze or even gloss-enhancers from a shampoo used previously, then the wax will typically not last as long. To get the best level of durability, the surface should be contaminant free before applying a wax.
Check out my complete guide to preparing a car for waxing to learn more.
Finally, ensuring that the wax is maintained properly is vital if you want it to last as long as possible.
A waxed car should be washed every 1-2 weeks in order to prevent the wax from clogging up. Washing the car more frequently could cause the wax to degrade prematurely though. It’s really a balance of preventing too much contamination from building up, and battering the wax with chemicals.
Ideally, only pH neutral pre-wash/ snow foam and shampoos should be used on a wax to prevent it from degrading. However, in some cases a stronger alkaline pre-wash may be needed if the car is very dirty in order to prepare it safely for a contact wash.
In order to extend the life of the wax you can also use a top-up quick detailer spray after every couple of washes.
Check out my guide to caring for a waxed car to learn more.
How to Make Wax Last Longer
To try and achieve the maximum durability claim of a car wax, there are several things to keep in mind:
- Make sure to apply the wax to the car out of direct sunlight, and in temperatures between 45-68 degrees Fahrenheit (7-20 degrees Celsius).
- Decontaminate the car using iron fallout remover, tar remover and clay to prepare the car when trying to apply a very durable wax. The car will ideally need to be polished after claying to remove any marring. If polishing is not possible, just use a tar and iron fallout remover.
- For less durable waxes, uses a wax-stripping shampoo e.g. Chemical Guys Clean Slate or Garage Therapy Decon Shampoo, or a pre-wax cleaner e.g. Dodo Juice Lime Prime.
- Wash the car at least every 2-3 weeks using pH neutral prewash and pure shampoo (free from waxes/ gloss-enhancers) if possible. If the car is dirtier, an alkaline pre-wash may be needed to safely prepare the car for the contact wash.
- Store the car in a garage if possible, and never under trees where it is a magnet for bird poop and tree sap.
How to Tell When a Car Needs Waxing
As mentioned earlier, looking at the level of water repellency is a good way to figure out if a wax needs reapplying. If the performance has diminished significantly, to the point where you are no longer happy with the level of beading and sheeting, then it’s time to apply it again.
I’ve also written this article which takes you through some simple tricks to tell when a car needs waxing.
Best Way to Reapply a Wax
So when your wax is on its last legs, you just put some more on right? Well, not if you want the best results.
When you apply a wax on top of another wax that is pretty much dead, the new wax will essentially stick to the old one. This means that when the old layer slips off the car, the new layer will go with it. Of course, the new layer will slow down the rate at which the old layer will slip off, because it is essentially shielding it.
However, if you want the new application of wax to last as long as possible, then its best to completely remove the existing layer.
The best way to do this is to use a pre-wax cleaner e.g Dodo Juice Lime Prime or a wax-stripping shampoo e.g. Chemical Guys Clean Slate or Garage Therapy Decon Shampoo. These will help cleanse the paintwork and ensure it is free from any old waxes and sealants. This will allow the wax to stick to the paintwork as much as possible, and improve the longevity.
Using non-abrasive pre-wax cleaners or decontamination shampoos are great because they will not inflict any swirls or marring which would need to be corrected by polishing, hence they both speed up the prep process and help to preserve the paintwork.
Check out my guide on 5 different ways to remove old waxes and sealants.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some more questions and their answers about waxes and how long they last.
Is it bad to wax a car too much?
Waxing a car too much will not damage the car, however it is often unnecessary. Applying too many layers of wax can cause the finish to look hazy, so it is best to remove an old layer before applying the wax again.
Which type of car wax lasts the longest?
Synthetic waxes often last longer than natural Carnauba car waxes. Ceramic-infused, and PTFE-based waxes often last the longest from my experience. One of the longest lasting synthetic waxes is Soft99 Fusso Coat which can last up to 1 year on the paint.
Which lasts longer, spray, liquid or paste wax?
Liquid and paste waxes usually last much longer than spray waxes. Liquid and paste waxes typically last between 2-3 months, whilst spray waxes usually last between 2-4 weeks before they need reapplying. The advantage of spray waxes are that they are faster to apply.
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