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How Long Does Wax Last on a Car? Keeping Your Vehicle Shine and Protected

Applying wax by machine.

In addition to washing your car with soap and water, you should apply a layer of car wax to bring out the shine and protect its paint.

But how long does wax last on a car?

Car wax can last anywhere between four weeks and six months. How long wax lasts on your car depends upon the type of wax you use, the wax quality, the environmental conditions, and the method you use to wash your car.

Synthetic waxes tend to be more durable than natural waxes, so they tend to last longer. Similarly, you can only expect a cheap wax to last for a while because of its low-quality composition.

A high-quality natural wax can last for as long as six months.

But, if your car remains outside in extreme climatic conditions, environmental elements like sunlight and dust can shorten the lifetime of your car wax. So can improper washing techniques and products. If you are not careful, you'll end up stripping the protective layer of wax.

But why is waxing so important? What will happen if you don't wax your car?

Table Of Contents [show]

    Applying wax by machine.
    Applying wax by machine.

    Is Waxing a Car Worth it?

    Yes, waxing a car is worth it. Waxing is a means of protection and increases the shine of your vehicle. In addition, it protects the paint from contaminants. Car wax also fills some scratches, making your vehicle appear practically new.

    An average car lasts for about 15 years. But regular maintenance can help yours run a few extra thousand miles.

    Washing may remove dirt and debris from your car's surface; waxing prevents it from returning. In addition, it is a protective barrier that protects your car's paint from damage. Here's how:

    Fills And Prevents Scratches

    As you drive it on the road, contaminants like dirt and rocks leave behind tiny scratches all over your car.

    Waxing can fill light scratches which reduces their appearance.

    Protects The Paint

    When you leave your car outside, sunlight, snow, and acid rain can degrade the car paint. Waxing helps prevent this damage by adding a layer of protection on top of your clear coat. The wax will take all the damage, so your paint doesn't have to.

    It Makes Car Washing Easier

    Wax prevents stubborn contaminants like sap and bug guts from sticking to your car. Since they cannot make contact, you don't have to spend much time treating them the next time you wash your car.

    Brings Out The Shine

    Waxing a car makes it shine. It makes the surface appear smoother and sleek. So if your vehicle looks good after washing, waxing will make it appear better. Almost new-like.

    Does Car Wax Wash Off?

    No, car wax does not wash off with car wash soap and water. That said, frequent washing, harsh cleaners, and improper washing technique can make the car wax fade quickly.

    Car wax is mainly composed of oils and waxes. Hence, water cannot wash it off because of its hydrophobic nature.

    On the other hand, traditional soaps and detergents are harsh and can remove most of the wax.

    You should always wash your car with a dedicated car wash soap. They are manufactured using a gentle formula that does not strip the wax.

    It would help if you were careful while using tools like foam guns, power washers, and foam canons, as they can be hard on the car's surface and wash off the wax.

    Applying wax by hand.
    Applying wax by hand.

    How Often Should a Car be Waxed?

    Generally, you should wax your car at least twice a year. However, depending upon your climatic conditions, you can wax your car every three or four months or with every seasonal change. Some people go as far as to wax their cars every six weeks.

    How often you wax your car dramatically depends upon the environmental conditions your car drives in.

    If you keep your car inside a climate-controlled garage, you won't need to wax it as frequently. But if you park it outside, exposed to direct sunlight or harsh winter weather, you will need to apply car wax more often.

    You can always check whether the wax remains on the car by observing how the surface feels.

    If your finger glides effortlessly and the surface feels smooth, you don't need to apply more wax.

    If it feels raw and resists your finger, you should reapply, no matter the time lapse from the last application.

    What Happens if You Never Wax Your Car?

    Never waxing your car has adverse effects on your paint. It loses its luster, fades faster, and becomes more prone to scratches.

    Car wax is a shiny yet protective layer on top of your car paint. It protects your car from UV rays that can damage the clear coat and prevent airborne particles from lodging on its surface.

    Never waxing your vehicle exposes it to a lot of problems.

    Let's see what happens if you never wax your car.


    With its oily composition, wax makes most contaminants slide off the car's surface without making any contact with the paint.

    Not waxing your vehicle gives solid particles, like dirt and rocks, a chance to create scratches and chips in your car paint.

    These scratches look ugly and reduce the lifespan of your paintwork.


    Deep scratches can remove some of the clear coat and top coat. With them removed, the metal underneath is exposed to the elements. The exposed metal starts rusting, making the car unsightly and lowering its resale value.

    If you park inside a garage, the wear will be quick. But if you park outdoors, the weather elements will have no mercy on your unwaxed car.

    Car hood paint damaged by UV rays.
    Car hood paint damaged by UV rays.

    Sun Damage and Fading

    Waxing your car helps protect its clear coat from sun damage.

    Never waxing your car and parking it unprotected in direct sunlight causes damage to the clear coat.

    The UV radiation breaks the bonding between the clear coat and the top coat, making it appear foggy and worn out.

    Moreover, harsh sunlight is also a primary source of paint fading and degradation.

    Should I Wax My Car After Every Wash?

    It is optional to wax your car after every wash. Doing so would be overkill from a maintenance point of view. That said, waxing your vehicle after every wash is harmless, albeit time-consuming. Furthermore, doing so maximizes its protective aspects.

    Waxing a car consumes a substantial amount of time.

    Making it a part of your car washing routine requires you to put in some extra time and effort.

    Waxing your car after every wash will renew its protective barrier.

    But if you don't want to invest extra time in car maintenance, waxing your car twice a year or with every seasonal change is enough to protect it.

    A high-quality wax can last as long as six months.

    If you coat your car with such a product and are careful about it while washing it, then there is no need to reapply it after every wash.

    But if you have used a cheap car wax, there is a high chance that it will wash out along with the soap, so you should apply some more after washing your car.

    How Much Does it Cost to Wax Your Car?

    If you wax the car yourself, the only cost you will incur is for the car wax itself — about $20 for a high-quality product. But if you opt for a professional waxing job, the package can cost anywhere between $50 and $150.

    When you do it yourself, the only spending you will do is on purchasing the car wax. A good-quality wax costs around $20 for a single container. The labor that goes into the task is mostly free.

    Alternatively, if you feel car waxing is tedious, you can also take your vehicle to a professional. But that will cost you around $50 to 130 for one session. In fairness, some of these sessions involve complete detailing, including washing, drying, cleaning, and degreasing the entire exterior of your car before the actual waxing.

    Is it Better to Wax or Polish a Car?

    While the terms are often used interchangeably, car wax and polish each serve different purposes. Polish helps remove minor damage from your car's paint. Wax makes it shiny and acts as a protectant.

    Let's look at each in detail.


    Polishing is a means of repairing your car's paint. The car polish removes the minor swirls and scratches on the clear coat.

    Polishing a car
    Polishing a car

    When you polish a car, you use a chemical to flatten the clear coat, making it appear glossy.


    Unlike polishing, waxing is a means of protection.

    When you wax a car, you put a barrier between the paint and the damaging elements.

    Car wax also makes your vehicle shine like it did when you first saw it in the showroom.


    Waxing is an essential detail in your car maintenance routine.

    It makes your car shiny and protects it from damaging environmental elements.

    Waxing your car after every wash is optional, but you should reapply it whenever the wax coat appears thin.

    Never waxing your car can cause your car paint to degrade quickly.

    You can wax your car yourself or hire a professional to do it for you.

    If waxing doesn't seem to fill in the scratches, you can try polishing the car to reduce their appearance.

    If that also doesn't work, consider a new paint job.