Car Waxing 101: Protect Your Car’s Exterior

According to car care professionals, waxing is one of the best ways to protect your car’s exterior from harsh elements and environmental hazards. How often should you get your car waxed and what are the best products to use? Ideally, waxing once every season, or four times a year is recommended to protect your vehicle's finish. At a minimum, waxing before the heat of summer and before the arrival of harsh winter weather will make a difference. You can take on the task yourself, or bring your vehicle to a professional. Either way, be sure to make waxing part of your maintenance plan.

Hand waxing offers many benefits, such as paint protection, ease of cleaning and increased resale value. A car’s exterior paint and clear coat can get damaged over time, especially if your vehicle is not under covered parking. The harsh sunlight and exposure to weather-related conditions can leave your car cosmetically damaged and potentially decrease its value. 

If your vehicle's paint is badly oxidized, consider buffing your automobile with an electrical orbital buffer BEFORE you wax, for the best results. Use a generous amount of buffing compound to scratches or weathered surfaces. Buffing strips away a fine layer of paint and exposes the fresh paint underneath. After applying the compound, move the buffer in circular motions, holding the pad completely flat, working one-quarter of a panel at a time. If your paint is in good condition, use car polish instead of buffing compound. Waxing right after buffing will replace the protective properties of the original clear coat. Buffing should be performed once a year unless you live in a coastal climate and your car is stored outside. Use light pressure while buffing – too much pressure or incorrect buffer use can damage your paint! 

If you are planning to wax your car yourself, make sure you have the time needed to complete the job correctly. You will need a bucket, water, wash mitt, microfiber towel, applicator pad and a non-abrasive high-quality wax. Show your AAA membership card at NAPA auto parts, and you will receive a 10% discount on your supplies. When you’re ready, move your vehicle into the shade then wash and dry it well. Follow the manufacturer's recommended prodecure, but generally you will apply the wax evenly in vertical or horizontal strokes onto a quarter of the panel at a time before removing. Some waxes will require a fixed period before removal, so refer to the directions on the bottle. Use a microfiber cloth to remove the wax, using circular motions to achieve a high gloss. 

If you prefer a professional waxing, Sam’s Xpress Car Wash offers a discount to AAA members, too. Be sure to get a hand wash instead of the wax application in the automated car wash, which only provides temporary protection. If you feel uncomfortable doing the job yourself, it's worth it to have it done by a professional. 

Whether you wax your car at home or use a professional like Sam’s Xpress, AAA wants to make sure you and your vehicle are taken care of in any season. Protecting the exterior of your vehicle is part of your overall maintenance plan. Don't forget about routine inspections at your local AAA Car Care Center. Find a Car Care Location below. 


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