Car wax is the final step in both making your car as visually appealing as possible and protecting that appeal for the long term. Chances are, if you’re not washing your car by hand at home, you probably aren’t in the market for car wax. It’s certainly possible, but the truth is that a commercial car wash won’t prepare your car to be waxed well enough.
Waxing your car is actually a four step process, of which the actual waxing is the last of them. Before you get to that step, you need to do the following, in order:
1. Wash your car. This is probably obvious, but it bears repeating.
2. Decontaminate the paint. This may not need to be done every single time, but it should be done regularly or the following two steps will be far less effective. This is typically achieved with the use of a clay bar, like the one found in the Mothers California Gold Clay Bar System or Griot’s Garage Clay and Speed Shine Kit. This removes particulate that has become embedded in your paint, which can begin the process of permanently ruining your clear coat.
3. Polish. Some folks confuse wax and polish or do them in the wrong order. Polish further refines the clay bar process and smoothes any craters in the clear coat. This can either be done by hand or with the help of a motorized polisher like the Meguiar’s Dual Action Polishing Tool. You’ll also need the polish itself and possibly a more specific product for removing swirls or eliminating scratches. For more on learning how to polish your own car, check out this article.
4. Wax. The main event and the purpose of this post. Wax produces an attractive high shine, but also literally applies a protective barrier over your clear coat and paint.
Car wax comes in two primary varieties, though car care products are certainly prone to overblown marketing that can be confusing when shopping. First you have paste wax, which is typically a carnauba-based product that does most of the heavy lifting. The second is liquid wax which is more of an extender rather than providing the necessary base protection that paste wax provides.
To that end, we’ve selected ten paste waxes and presented them in order of price. As with our car wash soap post, the size of the container may vary, so we’ve presented the price per ounce within each description. Generally speaking, the more you’re comfortable spending, the better the wax. Of course, there are exceptions to this as with any product and it truly isn’t necessary to stray from tried-and-true cheaper products, either. We’ve also included a link to an option for spray wax to extend your wax job. By pairing the paste wax and the liquid wax, you can get better results with ultimately less effort, which will only serve to protect your car better.
Before we get to it: You won’t find that old standby Turtle Wax on this list. Though they’ve branched out into more modern formulations like Ice Paste Wax, the general consensus is that their waxes tend not to go on and off easily and are on the harder side, which can cause scratches. If you use it and love it, more power to you, but we’ve decided to forego the well-known name here.
Finally, for this application, you do not want cleaner waxes. You might use them during the polishing step or even perhaps in the same way we’ve outlined liquid waxes above, but cleaner wax contains abrasives or cleaning agents that aren’t meant to stay on your car for a long period of time. They also don’t provide the same level of hard shell protection as their final wax counterparts, so be sure when you’re choosing that you’re getting a pure non-cleaner wax for this particular use.
Whether you’re a car enthusiast or just a fan of protecting the value of your purchase, here are the best options for car wax to encourage your vehicle to shine.
What are the best car waxes?
- Dodo Juice Hard Candy Hard Wax | Check it out on Amazon – $13.99
- S100 13700W Carnauba Paste Wax | Check it out on Amazon – $16.95
- Meguiar’s G18211 Ultimate Paste Wax | Check it out on Amazon – $17.49
- Finish Kare 2685 Cherry Pink Paste Wax | Check it out on Amazon – $19
- Perfect-It 3M 39526 Show Car Paste Wax | Check it out on Amazon – $19.83
- Mothers 05550 California Gold Pure Brazilian Carnauba Wax Paste | Check it out on Amazon – $20.08
- Collinite No. 915 Marque D’Elegance Paste Wax | Check it out on Amazon – $33.85
- Wolfgang Füzion Carnauba Polymer Estate Wax | Check it out on Amazon – $59.68
- Pinnacle Natural Brilliance Souveran Paste Wax | Check it out on Amazon – $91.99
- Zymöl Concours Glaze | Check it out on Amazon – $175
1. Dodo Juice Hard Candy Hard Wax – $13.99
We ordered this list strictly by price per package, so to be fair, this is a little bit misleading since you’re only getting one ounce of product at this price. What it lacks in absolute value it more than makes up for in performance. This is an excellent high-end wax, made of a blend of carnauba, candelilla and bees waxes.
You see this one pop up in forums regularly as a wax with good longevity. At the end of the day, you don’t really need much wax, so don’t let the high per-ounce price drive you off if you want to sample something well-regarded right out of the gate. If you have a light-colored car, opt for the Diamond White variation.
Dodo Juice doesn’t offer a spray wax, but you could use their Supernatural Acrylic Spritz to extend your wax.
Price per ounce: $13.99
2. S100 13700W Carnauba Paste Wax – $16.95
Bit of an odd one, this. Both the S100 and the seemingly-related P21S wax are well-loved options. The package designs are extremely similar and rumor is that the S100 may literally be the same as P21S at half the price. That’s product marketing for you.
With that out of the way, regardless of which you choose, you’re getting a very fine wax made of a blend of carnauba and beeswax. It’s formulated to prevent powder residue while you work. Speaking of working, this is almost as easy to use as a liquid, so you should have no problem putting it on or taking it off.
If you think you’d rather go with the more expensive option, you can get P21S in a combo pack with cleanser and applicators. Again, no brand-specific spray wax to pair with this, but the Griot’s Garage Spray-On Wax is a good option.
Price per ounce: $2.73
3. Meguiar’s G18211 Ultimate Paste Wax – $17.49
Probably one of the best — and certainly one of the most popular — all-around car waxes out there. This is priced affordably for your everyday driver while still offering above-average performance, especially when compared to something like a Turtle Wax. Unlike many of the other options on this list, this is a synthetic polymer formula which is designed specifically to be hydrophobic. It doesn’t last quite as long as some of the carnauba options, but you should get several months out of it and the price is right.
Meguiar’s absolutely offers liquid wax companion products to extend the life of the paste wax. The most likely of these you’d choose is the Ultimate Liquid Wax, but they also have a Ultimate Quik Wax spray formulation, too.
Price per ounce: $1.59 (at the time of this writing)
4. Finish Kare 2685 Cherry Pink Paste Wax – $19
Finish Kare is often mentioned alongside more-rarified options thanks to its good performance despite the somewhat lower price point. This wax combines the two approaches by mixing carnauba wax with synthetic polymers to get the benefits of both. It excels at high shine and gloss, but perhaps doesn’t last quite as long as some of the options that appear later on this list. Consider this a good option for your garage queen, but don’t be afraid of using it on your daily driver, either.
To extend this wax, try their 425 Extra Slick Final Body Shine in lieu of a spray wax.
Price per ounce: $1.31
5. Perfect-It 3M 39526 Show Car Paste Wax – $19.83
3M is well known for their novel chemical products, so it follows that they would make a car wax option, too. In fact, they have a whole system of car wax products, which includes a spray quick wax that you can apply to extend the life of this wax.
That’s a good thing, too, because this is what it says on the tin: show car wax. This one isn’t high on the durability, but it’s easy to apply and remove and the initial shine is excellent. If you wax your car regularly — say, on the order of every two weeks — or just ahead of a show, this really has a nice initial blush.
Price per ounce: $1.89
6. Mothers 05550 California Gold Pure Brazilian Carnauba Wax Paste – $20.08
Mothers makes every kind of car care product under the sun and many of them are reasonably priced while being pretty good mid-level stuff. Their Ultimate Wax System expands steps three and four from our outline in the intro to three steps, helpfully labeled on each package.
Step one is the Pure Polish, step two is Micro-Polishing Glaze and step three is the wax. You could go for the liquid wax, but of course we would urge you to go for this item, the paste wax. This is made of the finer yellow carnauba wax and has no added cleaners or synthetic polymers. When used with the full system, the results should be fantastic.
The spray wax you want to use to boost this is, of course, Mothers 05724 California Gold Spray Wax.
Price per ounce: $1.67
7. Collinite No. 915 Marque D’Elegance Paste Wax – $33.85
The #915 from Collinite is easily one of the best-loved car waxes. Both on our list and out in the market, it more or less marks the beginning of the enthusiast waxes with a price tag to match. Some opt for the No. 476, which is also excellent, but this one has the best balance of durability and depth.
The higher price tag is due to the higher concentration of pure carnauba wax, but as you’ll soon see, the price for this is downright reasonable compared to some of the other upper-echelon car waxes out there. If you’ve tried some of the options that came before it on this list and found them wanting, but aren’t quite ready to fully invest, this is absolutely the way to go. This is probably the best option for people who are genuinely enthusiastic about their daily drivers as much as they are their preserved show rides.
In terms of a spray wax to pair with it, try Dr. Beasley’s P39D32 Carnauba Mist.
Price per ounce: $2.82
8. Wolfgang Füzion Carnauba Polymer Estate Wax – $59.98
From this point on this list, we’re looking at top tier waxes for those protecting serious investments. Or maybe for those really angling for best-in-show. The point is: these are expensive waxes.
This option from Wolfgang pairs the familiar carnauba wax with proprietary German polymers for a very high-end blend of synthetic science and natural performance. It uses white, not yellow, carnauba which is carefully bonded to the polymers. The result is not only a wax coating that will last for months, but will actually be slick for months.
The price you’re seeing here is for a three ounce bottle. When you buy a full-sized eight ounce container, it comes in a wooden box with a certificate of authenticity and rings in at $189.99. This price and the certificate entitle you to one free refill. So, buy the sample size and if you love it, you upgrade to the concierge-style service later. There are two kits which include each size of the waxes, respectively: Wolfgang Fuzion Estate Wax Mini Connoisseurs Kit and Wolfgang Füzion Estate Wax Connoisseurs Kit.
If you don’t opt for one of those kits, at least get yourself the Wolfgang Deep Gloss Combo 3.0 to help extend the life of your wax.
Price per ounce: $19.99
9. Pinnacle Natural Brilliance Souveran Paste Wax – $91.99
By rights, this product should probably have come before the Wolfgang, but we’re doing this strictly in order of package price so you know your bottom line price when buying. Interestingly, if you were to opt for the three ounce Mini package of Souveran, you’ll find that it’s priced exactly the same as the Wolfgang above. At the end of the day, you’re getting a better value here since this also includes an applicator pad and a polishing towel.
That said, the Souveran is more likely to be discussed alongside Collinite 915 than the Wolfgang. Partly this is down to durability. While this product offers a dramatic shine and depth, it’s only designed to last about 90 days, making this potentially aimed more at show cars. At that, though, this product excels. It’s a fantastic show car wax that leans more toward dark-shaded cars. Opt for the Wolfgang if you need lasting protection on light-colored cars, but look here for show prep on your darker vehicles.
Pinnacle makes a good option for your more-regularly-driven vehicles, as well, in the Signature Series II Paste Wax, which comes in at about $7.49 an ounce. If you want to go the other direction, Pinnacle offers a Füzion competitor in the Pinnacle Black Label Synergy which, allowing for the few accessories included, clocks in at $39 per ounce. The Black Label Synergy Wax Elite Kit might be the way to go if you want to spend that much. Ultimately, the Souveran is more commonly used and loved, so we decided to feature it here.
As for spray waxes to match, there’s the Pinnacle Souveran Liquid Spray Wax or you could really treat your car and go for the Pinnacle Black Label Diamond Surface Coating, which applies a ceramic coating to your wax that’s supposed to last three years. It ought to at that price.
Price per ounce: $11.50 (a bit less considering the accessories)
10. Zymöl Concours Glaze – $175
You can certainly still spend more — the Pinnacle Black Label Synergy is more expensive per ounce — but this offering from Zymöl is maybe the original super-high-end car wax. Where the Pinnacle and the Wolfgang offerings rely on high-tech polymers, this is a virtually entirely naturally-derived product, using a blend of carnauba waxes and coconut, banana, and cinnamon bark oils.
That list reads more like taking yourself to the spa than your car, but these waxes have been popular at shows for a long time. Additionally, some reviews suggest that you could get a number of years out of one of these bottles, so the price may ultimately be worth it. This wax is known for high shine whereas others might focus on depth.
If you just can’t stomach the price for a single jar of car wax, the company offers options at lower price points, too. The Titanium Glaze uses a lower proportion of carnauba and swaps out the cinnamon bark oil for honeydew and watermelon, coming in at $8.88 per ounce. The Creame Wax drops the carnauba wax content even further and comes in at a downright reasonable $6.13 per ounce at the time of this writing. And hey, don’t let us stop you from going all the way with a jar of Zymöl Vintage, which was developed for the 1947 Bentley Mark VI Cabriolet by Franay. It’s 22 ounces of the world’s most precious car wax and comes in at an impressive $115 per ounce.
Consider pairing it with the Zymöl Z541 Spray Detailer to ensure you do, indeed, get years out of a bottle.
Price per ounce: $21.88