What Are the Different Types of Car Wax?


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The number of car waxes available on the market today is incredible.  I’m one of those people who likes to try different products and see what they do.

People don’t wax their cars like they used to.  The popular choice these days is an an Si02 spray sealant.  These are great products but what else is out there?

I’ve worked out the advantages of different products and have tested many waxes for myself.

Some waxes are super quick and easy to apply and some waxes don’t seem to have any wax in them at all.

I hope you find this this guide helpful.

Spray waxes are my favorite type of wax.  They are super quick to apply and I use one almost every time I wash my car.  They can make your car look like you spent the whole day waxing and polishing.

One of my favorites spray waxes is Turtle Wax Seal N Shine (also known as Hybrid Sealant Hydrophobic Spray Wax).  A bottle of this can last you a year so it makes sense to top up your shine after each wash.

Apply this spray wax after you wash your car and while it’s still wet.  Rub it in with a microfibre towel and then fully dry your car with another clean microfibre towel.  No need to buff.  Safe on plastic and glass.

Other spray waxes can be sprayed on dry paint.  They usually require very little buffing.

Advantages: Cheap, quick, easy, and very effective.

Disadvantages: Doesn’t hide scratches.  Not as shiny as some other waxes.

2. Paste Wax

Paste wax is the classic type of wax.  It’s sometimes called hard wax.  Paste waxes are applied using a microfibre or foam applicator pad.  You then need to buff them off.  

Your car should be as clean as possible first to avoid causing scratches.  It might be a good idea to use a iron remover and a clay bar first when using a paste wax.  This is because applying paste wax needs more pressure than using any other type of wax.  Pressure can cause bonded contamination to become lose and scratch your car.

Some of the highest levels of shine and gloss can be achieved with paste waxes.  Meguiars Paste Waxes have been around for a long time and have many fans.  A classic example is the much loved Meguiar’s Gold Class Carnauba Plus Past Wax.  It delivers fantastic shine and for many car lovers its the only wax they have ever used.

A modern example is the excellent Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Graphene Paste Wax.  It’s actually made up of ten different types of waxes.  But its main feature is that it’s both Graphene and Ceramic based.

Advantages: Can deliver great shine.  Inexpensive.  Can hide light swirl marks.

Disadvantages: Some stain textured plastic trim.  Can be harder to buff off.  Takes longer to apply than other waxes.

3. Liquid Wax

Liquid wax is easier to apply than paste waxes.  There are also a lot more of these on the market.  Spray waxes are usually super thin products, liquid waxes are thick and creamy.

Liquid waxes can come with all sorts of ingredients including ceramic ingredients (Si02) and carnauba wax.

They are easy to apply to a washed and dried car.  Some liquid waxes are easier to buff off than others.  Paste wax can get dirty in its tub because you are continuously dipping your applicator pad in there.  This dirt can cause scratches.  This doesn’t happen with liquid waxes.

Liquid wax is usually nothing more than paste wax in a different form.  Many detailers prefer liquid wax over paste wax as it’s faster to apply.  A classic example of fantastic liquid wax is Collinite No. 845 Insulator Wax.  It’s one of the most loved waxes on the market.

Advantages: Quick to apply.  Can last longer than spray wax.  Some super products out there.

Disadvantages:  Can stain plastic trim.

4. Ceramic Coating

Everyone knows ceramic coatings are not really waxes.  But they can act like waxes because they deliver some shine and protection.  But protection is the real reason to use a ceramic coating.

Some car waxes only last one weekend before they begin to degrade.  But a ceramic coating can last years.

Application of a ceramic coating takes a lot more care than a regular wax.  But anyone can do it once they are prepared to put the work in.  Your car needs to be fully decontaminated and machine polished first to get good results from a ceramic coating.

Coatings are very strong but they cant protect against deep scratches or rock chips.  What they are really good at is protecting paint from light swirls that are created when the car is being washed and dried.  They also make washing a little easier as dirt and grime cant bond so well to them.

They are made from silica which is a glass-like substance that sets extremely hard.  They also contain a solvent that evaporates when you apply it to your car.

Advantages: Very long-lasting (several years) shine and protection.  

Disadvantages: Decontamination, claying, and polishing are needed first.  Doesn’t fill in scratches.  Expensive.

5. Ceramic Wax

Ceramic Wax is car wax that contains si02.  It’s not the same as a ceramic coating but it’s easier to apply and costs less.  

Ceramic waxes can contain many other products too such as carnauba.  There are many waxes out there that contain si02 but don’t call themselves ceramic waxes.

Most ceramic spray waxes fall into this category.  Some liquid waxes such as Meguiars Hybrid Ceramic Liquid Wax is a great example.  You can also get a spray version of this called Meguiars Hybrid Ceramic Wax.

Advantages: Easy to apply, can last a few months.

Disadvantages: Very few, doesn’t last as long as a ceramic coating.

6. Graphene Coating

Graphene-based products are relatively new to the market.  I haven’t tried one myself yet but here is what I know about graphene coatings.

They are applied in the same way as ceramic coatings.  Good prep makes a big difference to your results.

303 Graphene Nano Spray Coating is more like a spray wax sealant than a coating.  Bit it calls itself a coating so that’s confusing.  

A true graphene coating comes in a tiny bottle.  Check out the graphene coatings available from Adams.

People who have tried dedicated graphene coatings have said they seem very similar to ceramic coatings.  

Advantages: Long-lasting shine and protection, just like a ceramic coating.  

Disadvantages: Decontamination, claying, and polishing are needed first.  Doesn’t fill in scratches.  Expensive.

7. Graphene Wax

Graphene wax is usually found in spray form.  These are probably the longest-lasting car wax you can get.  Right now you can get graphene spray waxes from a number of car care companies including Adams, 303, and Turtle Wax.

Reviews of these products seem to indicate that they are very similar to ceramic waxes or sealants.  They offer good shine and protection that lasts longer than regular wax.

Examples are Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Graphene Paste Wax and 303 Graphene Nano Spray Coating.

Advantages: Easier to apply than a graphene coating as less prep is needed.  Long-lasting.

Disadvantages: Shine and protection doesn’t last beyond a few washes.  Usually cost more.

8. Quick Detail Spray

Quick Detailers don’t usually claim to have wax in them but they can still add some gloss to your car after a wash.  They are super thin liquids that don’t require any buffing.

They are great for bird poop emergencies.  They can also be used for cleaning very light dust or water spots.

Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Detailer is a product that adds some shine and protects your car from scratches.  

Detail sprays don’t seem to add as much shine as spray waxes but they offer more protection against scratches when used on a car that’s not perfectly clean.  

Sonax BSD Brilliant Shine Detailer is a classic.  Gives probably the best water beading for a product of this kind.  Adams Detail Spray is a favorite and has great cleaning abilities in bird poop situations.  

Advantages: Quick and easy spray and wipe, no buffing needed.  Can be used to clean light dust.

Disadvantages:  Most quick detailers don’t add much shine.

9. Carnauba Wax

Many car enthusiasts prefer the shine delivered by waxes that contains carnauba wax.  The shine can look deeper than the shine you get from a polymer or si02 sealant.

Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax is a carnauba wax that gives a glowing deep shine on a polished vehicle.

Carnauba wax doesn’t last very long, especially when compared to a synthetic sealant.  But it’s great for when you want your car to look good for a weekend.  

Many products contain carnauba wax but paste and liquid wax give the best effect.  Spray waxes that contain carnauba don’t make much of a difference.

Further Reading: Best Wax for Black Cars with Scratchtes

Advantages: Very nice natural shine, especially on dark cars.

Disadvantages: Carnauba waxes tend to attract dust but the jury is on this.  Some products stain plastic.

10. Sealant

Sealants are probably the easiest product to apply.  They are sometimes very liquid products, other look like liquid waxes.

Some products that claim to be waxes are actually sealants.  Take Meguairs Ultimate Liquid Wax.  It doesn’t have any wax in it that I can see.  On the front of the bottle, it says it’s a pure synthetic polymer.  

Most waxes these days are hybrid products that contain wax and sealant together.

Many spray waxes could also be described as sealants.  In other words, anything with Si02 or graphene is a sealant.  A ceramic coating is the ultimate sealant but the industry doesn’t call them that.

Classic sealants include Wolfgang Deep Gloss Sealant and Meguiars Mirror Glaze Synthetic Sealant.   P&S Beadmaker is another good one I have used recently.

Read More: Best Sealant for Black Cars

Advantages: Last longer than wax.

Disadvantages: Some sealants don’t give much shine.

11. Glaze

Glaze is an under appreciated product.  Its job is to fill in micro scratches which boosts shine.  Darker cars can really look great if a glaze is used.

You can apply wax on top of glaze.  Its often used by used car dealearships to quickly make old faded cars look good.

Chemical Guys Black Light is a great glaze.  Apply another Chemical Guys wax on top such as Butter Wet Wax.

Autoglym Super Resin Polish is also very good.  It also contains polish so it can reduce oxidization and haze on cars too.  It delivers great shine even without applying a separate wax on top.

Further Reading: Best Glaze for Car Detailing

Advantages: Easy way to boost the shine of faded paint.  Apply wax on top.

Disadvantages: Not as good at restoring faded paint as machine polishing.

11. All-In-One Products

All-in-one products are sometimes called cleaner waxes.  They remove old wax and sealant and also removes some scratches and swirls, especially if applied with a polishing machine.  They also apply their own protection so there is not need to following up with a sealant or wax.

Don’t use these if you are planning on applying a ceramic coating as they will prevent the product from bonding correctly.

They can be really useful and effective.  Especially if you want to get your car looking good after and long winter.  Giving your car a deep decontamination wash using iron remover and tar remover and a clay bar beforehand will give great results.

Turtle Wax 53412 Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Polish and Wax is a great all-in-one when used with a dual action polishing machine.

Advantages: Quicker than using compound, polish, and wax separately.

Disadvantages: A polishing machine is needed for best results.

12. Polish & Compound

Polish is used as a paint correction product.  Pure polish is not wax and is not used in the same way as wax.  I’m including it in this post because many people seem the get the products mixed up.

Polish designed to smoothen down your paint at a microscopic level.  This removes light scratches and swirl marks.  It is not meant to leave any protection behind.  Wax or some type of coating should be applied after polishing for protection.

Polish and Compound do the same thing.  Think of Polish as something that will refine the shine.  It restores gloss.  Compound is a more aggressive product for paint correction than polish.

Many compounds stain plastic so you might need to use tape to mask off plastic trim.

Meguiars Ultimate Compound is a great example of a product that can be used to restore faded paint.  3D One is an excellent hybrid polish and compound in one product.  As is Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Pro 1 and Done Compound Correct and Finish.

Further reading: Compounds and Polish

Advantages: Pure polish is the best way to get a perfect finish after paint correction,

Disadvantages: A polishing machine is needed for best results.  Most products stain plastic trim.

13. Wash & Wax Shampoo

Shampoo with wax in it can add some gloss to your car but not that much.  But it probably is the fastest way to wax your car.

Meguiars Ultimate Wash and Wax is a great shampoo but can a product that has been diluted that much in a bucket of water add any shine?  Newer products like those available from Chemical Guys do a better job.  Read about the best wash and wax shampoos here

If you really want to wax your car you should use proper wax and don’t expect much from these products.

Advantages: Probably the fastest way to wax your car.

Disadvantages: Doesn’t add as much shine as other waxes.

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