Is car wax dead?

With the invention of ceramic coatings as a far superior protection for a vehicle’s exterior surfaces some have said, “Wax is dead.” Is car wax dead? While I do not disagree that a ceramic coating is the absolute best protection for one’s vehicle, I do disagree that waxing a vehicle is a “dead” practice.

Brief history of Car Wax

Waxing a vehicle is almost as old as the horse and buggy. “Waxing” was first developed in the early 1800s by using animal fats to shine up carriages. As the years went on people starting using natural waxes such as vegetable wax, beeswax, and oils, as well as other synthetic things to shine and protect vehicles services. Today’s car waxes are a formulation of blended waxes, oils, and solvents which can include crude oil distillates, ethanol, mineral spirits, petroleum, and more. A step up from many waxes you find paint sealants. Many paint sealants are made up of fully synthetic longer lasting, more durable materials than natural waxes. The technology for waxes and paint sealants has come a long way and both can be great options to keep a vehicle’s paint and other surfaces protected from the elements.

Car Protection

Car wax or sealant is not a permanent solution to protect a car. Most car wax will last anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. Most sealants will last 3 to 6 months. Some claim to last up to a year. Obviously this depends greatly on what the wax or sealant goes up against. Depending on where your vehicle spends most of its time and how its cared for will enhance or reduce the durability of a wax and sealant.

The pluses of waxes and sealants are that they are layerable, meaning you can put multiple coats of wax or sealant and layer right on top of each other. You can apply them each time you wash your car if you want.

Car Wax with foam applicator

A newer product to the market is the invention of ceramic sprays. These tend to be more like sealants and less like an actual ceramic coating. To be honest I think the use of the word “ceramic” is more of a marketing ploy playing off of the success of coatings.

Vehicle ceramic coatings have been extremely popular and have changed the detailing world. Truth be told there are various forms of ceramic coatings using Silicon Dioxide (SiO2) and Silicon Carbide (SiC). The biggest distinction between the two is that SiC based coatings chemically bond to the paint. Silicon Carbide forms during this bonding process. It cross links with the vehicle’s clear coat and then remains this way for the life of the paint. With SiO2 coatings, many times referred to as glass coatings or quartz coatings, are made up of nano-particles of Silicon Dioxide suspended in a resin. Some SiO2 coatings are helped by regular application of toppers.

Cost vs. Benefit

So when it comes to making a decision on what is the best choice to protect your vehicle, there are various factors that should be considered.

1. Budget

This is a big factor to consider. Only you know (or you should know) if your budget does or does not allow (all at once) for a complete paint restoration service and ceramic coating installation to be done on your vehicle. If it does not you’re better off going with the wax or sealant applied regularly. That way you don’t break the bank. But if you can afford it then getting a ceramic coating installed may be one of the best things you can do for your vehicle’s protection.

2. Age and Condition of Paint

Another thing to consider is the age, condition and type of paint you have on your vehicle. If your paint is past the point of no return, as in you already have clear coat failure or so many rock chips it now looks spotted, you probably would be better to not worry about a ceramic coating because the paint is already so damaged that a coating will only be protecting ruined paint and bare surfaces.

Now if you have a new vehicle that you really want to keep it top shape a full paint correction and ceramic coating is absolutely the way to go. New paint and clear coat are going to need protection and why not give it the best.

3. Vehicle Use

Is your car an old daily driver that is only meant to get you from point a to b or do you have a luxury vehicle that makes smile as you walk up to it and see it shine. Honestly we have installed ceramic coatings on many different types of vehicles. Some brand new and other older and just needing some love.

4. Conditions/Elements

Where is your vehicle parked most of the time? Where is it driven? How do you care for it? Do you plan on taking your car through automatic brush washes or give it the care of hand washing? All these things and more are to be considered if wax.

5. Cost over time

Another thing to consider which many people don’t think about is that when you apply wax or paint sealant to your vehicle over a 2 to 3 year period, you may be spending as much or something close to what you would on a one time paint correction and ceramic coating installation. Again this varies greatly depending on frequency, coat of materials used, if you do it yourself or hire a professional detailing service, etc. If you do the math you may be surprised.

6. Personal Preference

Ultimately it comes down to personal preference. If you love your vehicle and you want to protect it you will choose what works best for you. There are many who enjoy taking half the day washing and waxing their own car. Others don’t want to or don’t have time to spend doing that and they would rather the process be as easy and quick as possible. A lot people hire professionals to do it for them.

It is up to you if you want to protect your vehicle from what it takes on or not. It’s also up to you how you want to accomplish that.

Is Car Wax dead?

So is car wax dead? Nope. Not a chance. Car wax and paint sealants still have a place in the automotive detailing and protection world and probably will for a long time to come.

Feel free to contact via a call, text (801) 412-9274 or e-mail,, if you have any questions or if you would want to schedule a service for your vehicle.

by Chris Blaisdell, CD-SV, Onsite Detail

Chris Blaisdell is the owner of Onsite Detail and has been detailing  for 12 + years.
He is a Certified Detailer-Skills Validated detailer through the
International Detailing Association. The industry leader in detailing standards.

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