Best Car Waxes For 2023 (2023)

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The right car wax makes all the difference between an average clean and an incredible shine. Wax protects the clearcoat from weather and debris, helps to preserve shine and even fills in minute finish scratches.

The days of a one-size-fits-all car wax are long gone. Now there are formulations that cater to different finishes, particular climate concerns, ease of application and your budget. We’ve combed through expert reviews and consumer ratings to recommend five of the best car waxes available right now.

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  • Meguiar’s G7016 Gold Class Carnauba Plus Premium Liquid Wax: Best Overall Wax
  • Mother’s California Gold Pure Brazilian Carnauba Liquid Wax: Best Carnauba Liquid Wax
  • Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Pro Graphene Spray Wax: Best Spray Wax
  • Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax: Best Soft Wax
  • Migliore Primo Premium Concours Show Car Carnauba Wax: Best Show Car Wax

Best Overall Wax

Best Car Waxes For 2023 (1)



-$11.94 (44%)

$15.16 On Amazon

Why We Picked It

Meguiar’s Gold Class Carnauba Plus is an affordable product that returns high-end results. Topping many experts’ Best Wax lists, Gold Class is a blend of carnauba wax and polymer that Meguiar’s claims give a richer shine than pure carnauba wax alone. Gold Class gets praise for its ease of use, solid results and availability in paste form if so desired. Some consumers expected a greater shine than they got from it; others found it to be less effective in humid climates. Take care when using it, as some have reported skin and lung irritation from extended use.

Pros & Cons

  • Affordable
  • Available in paste or liquid
  • Easy to use with good results
  • Good but not exemplar shine
  • Overuse can leave finish streaky
  • Humid climates may make use tricky

Best Carnauba Liquid Wax

Best Car Waxes For 2023 (2)



-$6.19 (41%)

$8.80 On Amazon

Why We Picked It

Mother’s California Gold is a pure carnauba wax in a form that is heat-resistant and packaged for ease of use in a more liquid form than the traditional paste. While it still takes a bit of effort to get out of the tube and apply, a little of Mother’s California Gold goes a long way, which increases its already impressive value. Some consumers wanted a longer-lasting result (consensus seems to be it should be applied every three months), while others found the wax would harden up in the bottle over time.

Pros & Cons

  • Pure carnauba wax at a great price
  • Good shine and protection
  • Ease of use compared to pastes
  • Still takes some effort
  • Effective for up to three months
  • Can harden in bottle over time

Best Spray Wax

Best Car Waxes For 2023 (3)



-$4.95 (17%)

$25.04 On Amazon

Why We Picked It

Spray waxes are great for those looking for a more convenient product to use that also provides a wide range of protection. Turtle Wax’s Hybrid Solutions Pro Graphene Wax not only contributes to the car’s shine, but helps protect against UV rays, chemical contaminants, water spotting and environmental elements. Its spray form just makes it easier to use and reapply as a touch-up between full cleanings. Take care not to overuse, as more than a couple of sprays in the same area can produce streaking. Also, it may not be the best option for those with darker-colored cars.

Pros & Cons

  • Ease of use
  • Protects against multiple elements
  • Can be used to touch-up between washings
  • Streaky if over-applied
  • Not great for darker finishes
  • Easy, but more finnicky than a ceramic spray

Why We Picked It

Not a paste but not quite a liquid or spray, Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax is a blend of carnauba wax with resins and polymers that is easier to apply and remove than a paste but still results in great shine. It also is developed to protect from UVA and UVB rays. The shine is great but reportedly not the longest-lasting; it needs reapplication every few weeks or so. Also, it has a strong banana scent that, depending on how you feel about bananas, may not be everyone’s favorite.

Pros & Cons

  • Denser than liquid, easier to apply than paste
  • Provides great shine
  • Protects from UVA and UVB rays
  • Strong banana scent
  • Not the longest lasting
  • Ineffective at repelling water

Why We Picked It

Migliore Primo is the high-end of the high-end. It’s meant for concours, show cars and museum pieces. Each tin is handmade in Connecticut in a 50:50 ratio of organic compounds to carnauba wax to return the most intense gloss and shine you’ll find on the market. Higher-content carnauba waxes are notoriously difficult to work with, but Migliore’s blend renders Primo relatively workable by comparison. It also will not stain trim or plastic pieces. The downsides are the elbow grease you’ll need to apply it, and of course its insane price. Migliore Primo doesn’t protect from the elements and won’t repel UV rays—it simply delivers the most dripping-wet glossy look available for those who need nothing less.

Pros & Cons

  • High carnauba wax content
  • More workable than others of its type
  • Best of the best shine and gloss
  • Expensive
  • Takes a good amount of effort to apply
  • No added protections or benefits; just shine


We rate all car waxes based on the following weighted metrics:

  • Gloss/Shine (40%)
  • Ease of application (30%)
  • Price (20%)
  • Carnauba content (10%)

What is carnauba wax and why is it in car wax?

Carnauba wax is derived from the carnauba palm tree found naturally in northeastern Brazil (carnauba wax is also known as Brazil wax). In its natural state it is extremely dense; combined with solvents and oils it can be made into a paste that provides a high level of shine, resistance to UV rays and repels water. Until recently, carnauba wax pastes had been the industry standard in protecting car finishes. Carnauba waxes are still widely used today, even as ceramic-based coatings have increased in popularity.

Can a car wax claim to be “100% carnauba wax”?

Ignore any product that claims to be 100-percent carnauba wax. At best this is deceptive; most higher carnauba content pastes and liquid top out at around 30 percent. Carnauba is naturally hard and requires a lesser amount make it usable. The Migliore Primo features is an extreme outlier at 50 percent and is only possible due to its own blend of compounds.

Why is car wax important?

Going through the process of cleaning your car without waxing it at the end is nearly pointless, leaving your newly-cleaned auto exposed to all the elements you just washed away. A wax treatment fills the minute scratches in your cars’ finish—giving the clearcoat a smooth, off-the-lot shine—while also protecting against UV ray exposure and repelling water.

Why would I want a hybrid wax?

For some, a hybrid wax may just be a matter of ease of use, especially those that come in spray form. For others, it could be the benefits of a hybrid compound including the ability to protect against certain chemical and environmental elements that standard wax cannot.

How difficult is wax to apply?

It depends entirely on the wax you choose. Traditional pastes take some time and effort, requiring careful application and polishing by hand or buffer. Liquid waxes are much easier to apply. Sprays are even easier. Products like the Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax are an in-between option. All will require a process of application and removal/polishing.

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Forbes Wheels Staff

Mike Hagerty Contributor

A car-crazy California kid, I’ve been writing and talking about vehicles for 25 years on TV and radio, in print and online, including AAA magazines in Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West, as well as BBC Autos. I serve as vice president of the Western Automotive Journalists, a professional group for automotive writers based in San Francisco, and have no relation to McKeel Hagerty of Hagerty Classic Insurance, who is younger, better looking and wealthier.


Best Car Waxes For 2023? ›

Our preferred wax is Carnauba wax, which is typically preferred among professional detailers. Waxes applied after vehicle detailing sits on top of the paint and help to create deeper hues in the paint with a liquid-like finish.

What wax do professional detailers use? ›

Our preferred wax is Carnauba wax, which is typically preferred among professional detailers. Waxes applied after vehicle detailing sits on top of the paint and help to create deeper hues in the paint with a liquid-like finish.

What type of wax is best for a new car? ›

Carnauba wax is sourced from the Brazilian Carnauba palm tree leaves and is best used to touch up your car's shine. Polymer-based wax, on the other hand, is more protective and provides a longer-lasting shine—making it the ideal wax choice for new cars.

What is the best car wax to protect against salt? ›

Carnauba wax is usually the best car wax for winter. It is easy to apply during the colder months and protects your car from harsh winter elements. The car wax will protect your car's surface from road salt, snow, and some hail conditions.

Which is better carnauba wax or ceramic wax? ›

Ceramic protectants (coatings) provide a much higher durability than wax. They resist heat, UV rays, environmental contaminants & harsh detergents much better than wax. Wax on the other hand simply sits on top of the paint's surface.

What is the best car wax that doesn't leave white residue? ›

Meguiar's Ultimate Liquid Wax

What we really like about this wax is how easy it is to apply. Meguiar claims that this product can be applied in direct sunlight, which is usually a no-no for waxes. It won't leave a white residue on trim or plastic pieces, either.

What's better paste wax or liquid wax? ›

Paste wax typically contains more solvents and wax than liquid formulas, making paste more effective in removing old paint and embedded dirt. Paste wax also leaves behind more silicones and wax that can smooth out uneven, pitted surfaces.

How do you wax a car like a pro? ›

7 Steps for a Perfect Car Waxing
  1. Purchase a High Quality Automobile Wax. ...
  2. Wash Your Car. ...
  3. Read the Instructions on the Car Wax Package. ...
  4. Apply Wax to the Pad. ...
  5. Choose an Area of Your Vehicle to Begin Waxing. ...
  6. Apply the Wax Using a Small, Circular Motion. ...
  7. Remove the Wax With a Soft Cloth.

How do I choose car wax? ›

The critical attributes of car wax to consider are gloss improvement, durability, ease of application, ease of removal, how well it cleans the paint surface, protection from UV rays, compatibility with plastics, and price.

What is the best car wax for longevity? ›

The top longest-lasting car waxes include Car Guys Hybrid Wax, Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax, Turtle Wax 1-Step Wax and Dry, Chemical Guys HydroSlick Hyper Wax, and Meguiar's Gold Class Carnauba Plus Premium Liquid Wax. Waxing your car's paint isn't just for dedicated motorheads.

Should you wax a newer car? ›

Waxing your new car is extremely important and the sooner the better. It is possible to do it yourself and recommended to do it 2-4 times a year. With a little more research and loving elbow grease you can keep your car's exterior shiny, rust-free, and protected for years to come.

Does car wax brand matter? ›

Before buying a car wax, be aware that premium car wax brands don't necessarily hold up any better than lower-priced alternatives, based on our latest tests. In fact, some moderately priced liquids scored near the top of our Ratings—better than some products costing twice as much.

What is the best wax to prevent water spots? ›

One of the most effective ways to prevent hard water is to use a good carnauba wax or sealant. The purpose of these products is not only to improve luster or shininess but really to protect your clear coat.

Which Meguiar's wax is best? ›

Therefore a carnauba based wax can be the best meguiars wax and help deliver a warm glossy shine. Using Meguiars Gold Class or Meguiars Cleaner Wax will work well for dark paint. Alternatively, try using Meguiars Cleaner Wax followed by Meguiars Gold Class; expect great shine and beading!

What is the best wax for vehicle wraps? ›

At Wrap Works Orange County, we also recommend 3M Quick Detailer Spray Wax or Meguiar's Ultimate Quik Wax. You can use another gentle automotive detergent if necessary – any good brand will work. Always use a nice automotive sponge or clean, soft cloth to wash your wrap.

Which one wax is best? ›

Hard wax is gentler on your skin. It's better suited for sensitive areas, and is less painful to remove. Soft wax is better suited for large areas, like your legs or back. If you're new to waxing, you may want to start off with a waxing session from a licensed esthetician or dermatologist.

What is the difference between ceramic car wax and regular car wax? ›

Ceramic coating acts very differently from wax because it produces a curing property once applied to the paint surface. This curing creates a chemical bond with the paint on which it's being applied, and once applied & cured, it is extremely resistant to water, soap, environmental pollutants and even chemicals.


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