Top 8 Best Car Waxes
By | Last updated: July 23, 2021
Bhakpong/Shutterstock.com. Car Wax

The title for this post is as predictable as your author’s propensity to fix himself a bacon sandwich at dinnertime. All the same, we’re betting you lot tend to take care of your cars, so an article about car wax should be useful.

And prior to the peanut gallery chiming in as self-proclaimed experts, we’ll clarify there is indeed a difference between polish and wax. It’s generally accepted that a car polish is intended to remove fine bits of crud on the paint while the purpose of a wax is to leave a layer of protective material on your car.

Accepting this description, polish and wax actually do the exact opposite of each other: one removes stuff while the other applies it. One is also better fodder for terrible Karate Kid references.

1. Editor's Choice: Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax

Compared to some of the other brands on this list, Chemical Guys is a relatively young pup. Heck, using the same yardstick, some of the authors on this website aren’t too old, either. This ego-boosting revelation helps this product land atop our list.

It’s more than that, of course. This carnauba-based wax has great reviews from nearly 4000 customers and lays claim to providing a deep and wet look to automotive paintwork. Coupled with the good juju garnered by this brand thanks to its high-quality product (your author has a bin full of it paid with his own money), that’s more than enough to recommend this wax.

Pros/Great brand, excellent results
Cons/Piddly little 4oz bottles are sold for reasons unknown
Bottom Line/Pop for the 16 oz or 64 oz tubs

2. Turtle Wax Super Hard Shell Paste Wax

We’re going to lay a solid wager that this type of wax, or one like it, was the first car wax ever seen by most of our readers. Don’t knock the switch to a plastic container; anyone who used the stuff in metal tins knows that those vessels eventually rusted if left in damp conditions for too long. The tub makes no difference if the product inside has remained of the same formula.

Fortunately, it seems that it has. The now-plastic green circle is four inches on the round, meaning it’ll fit just fine in that bucket of car products you’re schlepping to a show n’ shine. This particular option is a paste but the formula is also available as a liquid. As old as time itself and familiar to gearheads around the world, this stuff is likely to be produced into the next century.

Pros/They wouldn't still be selling this stuff if it didn't work
Cons/Some might accuse you of being old school
Bottom Line/It's the leading car wax ... in the world

3. Meguiar's Hybrid Ceramic Liquid Wax

Gearheads long of memory will recall the Saturday morning Power Block of television programming, one in which Barry Meguiar himself used to present a show about classic and collector cars. There would be plenty of not-so-subtle product placement, of course.

Had this stuff been around back then, it surely would have made an appearance. The company says it contains the latest advanced hybrid SiO2 technology, which my high school chemistry tells me stands for silicon and oxygen. They also say it applies like a traditional liquid wax and is easy to use.

Pros/Non-whitening on non-painted trim and rubber gaskets
Cons/Expensive for 16 oz
Bottom Line/Rave reviews abound

4. Griot's Garage 'Best of Show' Spray Wax

Here’s a product that doesn’t apply like a traditional wax, instead asking that it be sprayed on in a fine mist before buffing. Griot’s says its rich carnauba/polymer formula creates class-leading paint protection and is safe for use on paint protection films. Ceramic coatings, too, apparently. Reviews are strong, with nearly 1000 customers combining for a 4.7 out of 5-star rating. Given how picky gearheads are about their car care products, that’s remarkable.

Advertised as a true carnauba, the wax content of Best of Show Spray Wax is said to add 2-3 times the durability of other spray waxes to your car’s paint finish. This gives longer protection between uses and means you can spend more time driving your car instead of waxing it. A gallon bucket is available for refills.

 

Pros/Easy spray application
Cons/They'll try to upsell you the Detailer
Bottom Line/Bring yer own buffing and drying towels

5. Armor All Car Wax Spray

Last summer, whilst shopping for a second-hand pickup truck, your author had the misfortune of climbing aboard a Ram 1500 which had so much Armor All applied to its interior I nearly slipped off the seat and onto the vinyl floor. Hockey rinks are not as slippery. The seller was attempting to cover up the stifling smell of cigarette smoke, created by a previous owner who must have consumed three packs a day, such was the stench.

It’s unfortunate that’s the first thing that pops to mind when I hear this brand name since Armor All is a brand that has been around forever and makes a number of quality products – including this spray wax. As a spray, it offers a fast and easy application that apparently requires no buffing. It can be used on wet or dry surfaces, which is very handy if you’re trying to hit the road and left car washing duties ’til the last minute. Perhaps I’ll pick up some of this stuff to change my perception of the brand – after all, the actions of that salesman weren’t their fault.

Pros/Single-step application, no buffing required, wet or dry application
Cons/Chance of using too much thanks to a spray nozzle
Bottom Line/I definitely did not buy that Ram pickup

6. Torque Detail Mirror Shine

Just because I’ve never heard of a brand doesn’t mean it should be dismissed like a Facebook rumor. After all, that’s why we read the reviews that go with these things before putting them in our recommended lists.

In racing, it is generally accepted that horsepower is how fast you crash into the wall while torque is how far you move the wall. Turns out, Torque is also a brand name of car wax products, a company that’s been racking up positive reviews while expanding its product line. This spray product apparently comes with a 60-day refund program if you don’t like the results.

Pros/Big reviews, discounts for 2 bottles or more
Cons/Relatively unknown brand
Bottom Line/Made in 'Murica

7. Lucas Oil Slick Mist Speed Wax

Similar in intent to some of the other spray waxes on this list, the product you see here bears a brand name that’s familiar to anyone who’s either wrenched on their own vehicle or watched any sort of sanctioned off-road even in the last few years.

This is a 24 oz bottle of slick mist speed wax, intended to add extra shine to your vehicle while intensifying paint gloss. Lucas says its great for cars, trucks, boats, and airplanes (though the latter applies to exactly none of the people who work here).

Pros/Big bottle size, low price
Cons/A few churlish feedback comments
Bottom Line/Difficult to go wrong at less than ten bucks

8. . Mothers California Gold Carnauba Wax Paste

Ranking right up there with the Turtle Wax entrant on this list as a blast from the past, this product from the world-famous Mothers brand also reaches deep into the pages of history for a lesson in car care. In fact, the ‘California Gold’ name borders on nostalgia for some of us in the audience, ranking right up there with the as-seen-on-TV California Duster (remember those?).

This paste-based wax is promoted as being able to ‘clean and protect’ in one act and is also good on fiberglass and gel coats. This explains its popularity on high-end campers and RVs. It is said to contain heat-resistant carnauba wax for a long-lasting shine, while also providing long-lasting benefits with regular use. That last bit sounds like a toothpaste commercial. Reviews are overwhelmingly positive.

 

Pros/You know this stuff works, hit of nostalgia
Cons/Will require more work than a modern spray-on product
Bottom Line/Elbow grease often pays off

Car Wax FAQ:

How best to wax a car?

This is a post all by itself, but we’ll attempt to answer it quickly with the caveat there is more to the process than in a short FAQ response. Make sure your car is clean, and either wait for it to dry or use a proper towel if the water you are using is prone to leaving water spots. Only apply wax to cool surfaces and never in direct sunlight. If a foam applicator of some sort is required, work in small areas and take your time. Finally, buff off the residue – if the product you are using leaves any – and enjoy the shine.

How often should you wax your car?

Experts commonly recommend that you should apply a car wax to your vehicle once every three months at the least. Remember that since wax is technically an addition to your car’s paint, it is possible that it will wear off over time and with regular car washing. Those ‘once a year’ car polishes are completely different. For those obsessed with maintaining a perfect wax finish, consider interim products meant to be used every few days.

What’s the difference between different types of car waxes?

As mentioned up top, It’s generally accepted that a car polish is intended to remove fine bits of crud on the paint while the purpose of a wax is to leave a layer of protective material on your car. As for wax itself, applying a slick mist type of product will be easier than smearing on – then buffing off – a paste wax but there is a better chance of overspray and missed spots with the modern stuff. Follow the directions and take your time.

Changes:

  • Updated descriptions of numbers 2, 4, and 5
  • Replace FW1 Wax with Mother’s at #8 due to availability
  • Revised introduction
  • Added FAQ

 


From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Rental Reviews, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main Photo Credit: Bhakpong/Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

21 Comments on “Best Car Waxes: Wax On, Wax Off...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I use #7 Lucus Slick Mist, it’s so easy, takes 10 minutes after every wash and for some odd reason it smells like bubble gum :)

  • avatar
    randyinrocklin

    Don’t ever use Meguires Pre-Wax. It don’t come off.

  • avatar
    David Cardillo

    Been cleaning cars since the 1960’s. At that time, to supplement my income for school. Used Turtle Wax in the tub then’ use the same product in the liquid form now. I think it is more durable than some I won’t mention here for discretion, and which are not necessarily “bad” products. Just my opinion.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ve used 2,3,4,7, and 8. They all worked to a reasonable enough degree that I could recommend any of them. I’d say FW1 was probably the sweet spot though between effectiveness and ease of application.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Meguiar Hybrid is crap. It goes on sticky and doesn’t seem to do anything until you get like 3 coats on the car. Turtle Wax “Ice” Seal-N-Shine is my current go to spray wax. In hot conditions it streaks so wipe on / wipe off fast. Also you don’t need much, it spreads like grease so a little goes a long way. Windows and rubber trim seem to benefit from a coat of it as well. The technology in these new sprays is amazing. Search for reviews on YouTube… Turtle Wax Seal-n-Shine wins pretty much every real world comparison I’ve seen.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I don’t think I’ve waxed a car in 15+ years. Then again, although I spray them off regularly (and more in the winter), I only wash my cars about twice a year. The finish on my 09 Sedona still looks OK.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Like in the movies, time slows down for the hero, and hearing his own heartbeat, cries out “Nooooooooo!”

      Then the hero looks upward and laments “Why???????????????”

      :D

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Wait – wasn’t there another “best car waxes” post here, in the last couple of weeks?

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Okay, so it was polishes. But, still.

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/products/best-car-polishes/

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Matthew’s second and third paragraphs directly and proactively addressed this, what more do you want? :-)

        “And, before all hands chime in, we’ll clarify there is indeed a difference between polish and wax. It’s generally accepted by those in the know that a car polish is intended to remove fine bits of crud on the paint while the purpose of wax is to leave a layer of protective material on your car.

        Accepting this description, polish and wax actually do the exact opposite of each other: one removes stuff while the other applies it. One is also better fodder for terrible Karate Kid jokes.”

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I don’t mind these ‘Amazon link’ articles – in fact I enjoy many of them much more than I should.

    The “clay bar” post was life-changing.

    Waxes: Buying a top-shelf wax product and leaving it on the shelf in the garage does not help your ride so much as actually applying a wax product to the paint on your vehicle. (I have tried both methods.)

    Currently I’m on a Meguiar’s Cleaner Wax (the paste version) kick. [Applied sparingly by hand and removed with a dual action machine.]

  • avatar
    crtfour

    I recently discovered P21s and it’s wonderful. I’ve waxed cars for 20 years and it’s the best I have experienced. The best part is that there is no white residue typical of other polishes.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    Collinite 885. Seems to be of very good quality.

  • avatar
    millerluke

    I’ve used The Chemical Guys, Turtle Wax, Armor-All and the FastWax. They’ve all bee good at different things.
    Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax is phenomenal at repelling water, and helping keep the vehicle clean and shiny – however, that effect wears off after only 3-5 weeks; it’s not especially durable.
    Turtle Wax and Armor-All have been good – not as shiny as CG, and certainly doesn’t repel water nearly as good, but much more durable.
    FastWax I’ve enjoyed. I got a couple cans many moons ago when they were doing a gas station promo. Ease of use is amazing, but it’s not particularly shiny or especially durable. I used it more as a touch-up cleaner in between washes, and was excellent on windows. I also used it on my bathtub to great success.

    All that said, I’m a real fan of Chemical Guys. They’re somewhat nmore expensive, but in my experience, it’s well worth it. Plus, I get their products at Canadian Tire using Canadian Tire Money from buying all my gas there… so I guess I’ve spent $5 all told on four different products of theirs.

  • avatar
    Don Mynack

    Chemical Guys is usually overpriced and underwhelming in my experience, but I haven’t used that exact product so I won’t bash it. If you want a good spray wax, try the Turtle Wax ICE product. The Meguiar’s is very good but it’s a ceramic – if you want a good value ceramic go with the Turtle Wax Hybrid. Also, the Griot’s 3-in-1 Ceramic is very, very good. Don’t touch that Armor All garbage.

  • avatar
    Super555

    I love these posts with imputs from TB&B. Really helped me pick out sockets and now waxes. Thanks!

  • avatar
    volvo

    I wax just to help protect the clear coat from acidic bird and tree droppings. For me easy application is #1. I have found that the Turtle Wax Hard Shell liquid wax goes on easily and primarily removes easily. Working time between application and polishing/removal seems longer than with Meguiar’s products which I also have used. I hand remove not using a machine.

    Also the turtle wax does not seem to adhere as firmly to rubber/silicon gaskets around windows and trim as carnauba or polymer based products do.

    The spray on type waxes certainly go on easily but polishing the haze off can be problematic.

  • avatar
    da-jonesy

    Nah, I’m all Turtle Wax ICE Seal N Shine now: easiest and best.

    10 bucks too much? Then Turtle Wax 1-Step Wax & Dry will get you mighty close for six-fitty.

    I’ve pretty much thrown away my Klasse carnauba.

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