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Best car wax and polish – plus how to get a showroom shine

There is something rather alluring about a car with showroom shine, isn’t there? Whether it’s factory fresh or used, most dealers have the ability to buff, polish and wax cars to a shine so strong you could check your reflection in it.

Since most of us aren’t able dedicate our days to car maintenance, the most we can hope for is finding a car wax which does the hard work, so we don’t have to.

If you’re on the hunt for a product that will protect your paint work, extend the life of your exterior, and get that “is that new?” shine, look no further. Here is our guide to the best car wax you can buy:

What’s the difference between car wax and polish?

Car wax and car polish are two very different things. While car polish is used to remove defects from a car’s ‘coat’, car wax protects that coat. Car wax is essentially a protective layer which keeps a car looking shiny and new, regardless of age.

Alternatively, when you use car polish you are using an abrasive (therefore, hopefully on your car’s wax coat instead of the paint work itself). Many people use polish to remove grease, dirt and light scratches from paint (to reveal undamaged paint underneath).

A good car wax can reduce the need or frequency of car polishing altogether.

What kind of car wax is best?

You will notice car wax comes in the form of pastes, liquids, sprays and more. They all provide a protective and glossy finish, but sprays are quickest to apply. Pastes can be more difficult and time-consuming, but offer longer lasting results. Somewhere in between, we have liquid. Many car aficionados believe the more effort you put in, the better the result, but all car waxes are worth their money.

Car wax tends to be made from either natural sources (like carnauba plant) or synthetic silicones. Typically, pastes are natural and liquid are synthetic, using man-made polymers or resins rather than oils.

Typically, lighter-coloured vehicles look better with synthetic waxes and darker vehicles look better with natural waxes.

What is carnauba wax?

Brazilian-native carnauba wax comes from the leaves of the palm Copernicia prunifera and is incredibly popular among car owners. It is almost completely insoluble in rain and extremely heat-resistant, so perfectly durable for British weather.

How to wax a car

1. Wash your car. Wax works best on clean surfaces. You don’t want to trap any grime, dirt or grit under a layer of it. A quick car shampoo will go a long way; just remember to keep the water clean so you don’t re-introduce dirt you’ve already washed off.

2. Assess its condition. Do you have swirls or scuffs in the paint work? If so, you’ll want to polish your car before you proceed with waxing.

3. Move your car into the shade. You don’t want wax to be affected by the elements while you’re working.

4. Apply your car wax of choice (but follow the instructions) one panel at a time. Sprays work best by spraying it on the car, rubbing it in with a microfibre towel, then flipping the towel to buff it in. It is important to pace yourself to get the most out of each panel’s wax job.

Liquids and pastes tend to require a foam applicator pad for best application, but take a little longer.

5. Finish. Grab a clean microfibre towel to give it one final wipe over.

The best car wax

1. Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid Wax

£23.99, Amazon

Meguiar's Ultimate Liquid Wax

Credit: Meguiar

This truly multi-tasking synthetic liquid delivers protection, durability and reflectivity far easier than you’d expect. The crowd favourite uses ThinFilm technology to create one of the most effortless application processes around, even in full sun. Its crosslinked polymers, for many, improves your car exterior’s water resistance (rain rolls right off) and depth of colour. Soft foam applicator pad and microfibre towel included.

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2. Bilt Hamber Double Speed Car and Motorbike Wax

£15.95, Amazon

 double speed car wax

Credit: Bilt Hamber

Cult favourite Bilt Hamber is one of the most-trusted names in car maintenance. For their Double Speed Car Wax (also recommended for motorbike use), the Essex-based company instigated intense water beading tests and found droplets actually maintained their shape. Not only right after being waxed, but on paint waxed seven weeks prior. As durability and easy application goes, it is unbeatable. 

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3. Soft99 Fusso Wax Coat Light

£26.50, Amazon

soft99 fusso wax coat car wax

Credit: Soft99

This incredible product has not only built a reputation on its protective capabilities, but the fact that its protective layer actually lasts up to 12 months. The Soft99 Fusso Wax uses special fluorine polymers to keep dirt and water at bay and even protects your paint against UV-light and related discolouration. It only takes around 20 minutes to set once buffed in, and even shorter in summer. 

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4. Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax Cream

£25.99, Amazon

Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax Cream Car Wax

Credit: Chemical Brothers

Chemical Guys’ 100% carnauba-based wax boasts a completely new formulation for even easier application. Though it doesn’t last quite as long as synthetic car waxes, the deep wet look it produces is stunning. The wax’s ultra-smooth finish parallels that of luxury sports cars and has high levels of UVA and UVB protection naturally, protecting new and old paint work better than most of its competitors. 

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5. Dirtbusters Super Cera Brazilian Carnauba Hybrid Premium Car Wax

£14.99, Amazon

Car Wax Super Cera

Credit: Dirtbusters

This car wax is a premium blend of traditional Brazilian carnauba T1 (the premium grade carnauba) and modern synthetic waxes. The combination creates a super-glossy and protective coating that shields your car’s paint from wear and tear for around six months. Super Cera is loved by professional detailers and car enthusiasts alike and, at its price point, it really can’t be beaten. 

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