Do I Really Need to Wax My Car or Is It a Waste of Time?
“Do I really need to wax my car?”
This is a question car owners ask over and over nowadays. Whether or not to wax is simply not as clear-cut as it was 50 years go. Then, yes, when your new car just had a few coats of colored lacquer, car owners needed to wax, to protect a car’s finish. However, today’s debate is fueled by the fact that most cars now have a protective clear coat—a clear resin applied over the colored resin. Isn’t the clear coat placed there as a protective barrier, after all? Why wax?
There are arguments for and against waxing; in all honesty, I fall on the, “Why wax?” side. True, if you want to keep your car looking like it rolled right off the factory line, you’re going to want to wax. But, for me, the difference is like watching HD vs. non-HD television: Unless they are side-by-side, I just do not notice enough of a difference to worry about it from an aesthetic point-of-view.
Is the wax necessary for protection from the environment? Well, the clear coat itself is a protective barrier against things like acid rain and UV rays, keeping your paint color from fading and keeping that nice, deep color on your car. The clear coat is not prone to fading because, of course, it is clear! But, on the other hand, clear coat IS prone to scratching, which can in itself lead to a dulling of your finish. And, when contaminants like dirt, grime, bugs and pollen are allowed to accumulate on your car, they can reduce the reflective quality of the clear coat, also dulling the finish.
So, is that a “yes” or “no” for waxing?
Well, a little bit of both, in all honesty. While waxing on occasion will help keep your car pristine, proper washing is much more important, in my opinion, than waxing. Washing away contaminants--acid rain, dust, pollen, airborne pollutants, bird droppings, bug splatter, etc.—in a timely, proper manner will do more to keep your clear coat in shape and doing its job, scratch-free, than frequent waxing. But, while I don’t believe waxing is strictly necessary, I do think that waxing 3-4 times a year can provide a car’s surface with a “sacrificial layer” of protection. In other words, that layer of wax may not be much, but it is enough of a buffer so that when you wash your car and remove those contaminants, you are rubbing against the wax, not the easily scratched clear coat.
It’s something to consider, whatever your point-of-view on the actual "necessity" of waxing.
Of course, all of this is moot if your car is one of those exceptions with a “matte” or “flat” finish; for these, waxing is not only not necessary, it is not recommended!
Image: 2014 Subaru Impreza in Venetian Red Pearl