We all know how important waxing your car is to keep the paint surface in top condition, whether you’ve got a concours winner or a family hack, but is carnauba wax better than synthetic wax?

TALK TO A CAR HEAD and they’ll tell you you should only use carnauba wax to keep your car looking shiny, and that’s only after you’ve washed it, used a clay bar to get rid of any extra surface imperfections, polishing it and then waxing. When your car leaves the factory it’s paint has been given a clear coat to protect the finish against the weather and pollution.

By properly cleaning, polishing and waxing your car you’re effectively adding an extra layer of sacrificial protection to keep your car’s paint in good condition. And keeping your car washed and clean can have a huge benefit when it comes to resale, so, try and wash your car at least once a month, and we’ve got a guide here on how to do that.

My grandfather swore by carnauba wax (this is a natural wax that starts off as hard flakes that require oils, etc to soften them and make them usable) and he’d polish and wax his car every other month. His old Falcon had this beautiful metallic green finish and when it was waxed it glowed, if you get what I mean. Fast forward to now, and synthetic waxes (totally man-made) have appeared on the scene and factory-applied paint protection is better than ever, but it still needs help.

There are a couple of situations where detailers will argue that a carnauba wax is better than a synthetic and vice versa…and that is, when it comes to showing your car, carnauba wax is recommended because of the finish it provides.

But, carnauba wax doesn’t last as long as a paint protection and, so, if you live in an extreme climate, like Australia, and you want general, real-world paint protection then you’re better off using a synthetic wax or even a paint sealant. Both will last longer than a natural wax. Or you could go with a mixture of natural and synthetic wax.

Personally, that’s what I use as I find this gives my silver car the best finish, it comes out looking glassy. Pure carnauba generally needs to be reapplied every two months depending on the climate, but I can get away without reapplication for up to four months, but I’m probably pushing it…

You don’t have to re-wax your car every single time you wash it, and while some car washes contain carnauba wax, it’s worth using a spray wax between major waxing jobs to keep the paint protected and your car looking its best.

Back to paint sealants. The aim of a paint sealant is to provide, effectively, a rigid shell around your car to protect the paint. It won’t give you the same sort of finish either a natural or synthetic wax will, but it will protect the paint surface for longer than either one, lasting up to 12 months depending on the product and the climate. And a paint sealant is easy to apply, it’s always in liquid form and so is simply a pour and spread by hand job.

So, it’s a myth that carnauba wax is “better” than synthetic wax; you could argue it provides a better finish, but it needs to be reapplied more regularly than a synthetic wax which provides better protection. But you don’t have to choose. You can always apply a paint sealant and then apply a coat of carnauba over the top to get depth from the finish.

What’s not a myth is that waxing your car is a good idea. It helps with protecting the paint and it makes washing and cleaning easier too. For instance, usually, with just a thin layer of wax applied you’ll almost be able to clean/dry your car with a garden hose as the water will sheet off the wax rather than sitting on the surface like it will when you don’t have wax on the surface. Indeed, a good wax will do away with the need to chamois your car dry. Try it.

Question: What type of wax do you use and why? And how often do you wash your car?

2 Comments

  1. nota
    April 14, 2018 at 12:40 am — Reply

    After years as a detailer with pride of quality – including owning a small detailing business – I would never put waxes containing silicones or polymers onto my own car’s paintwork.

  2. Peter Lancaster
    April 14, 2018 at 12:10 pm — Reply

    Do you plan to report on a product called l’oxide, they make some big claims regarding the recovery of a faied clear coat?

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober