How to Tell if My Car Needs New Wax

Putting a coat of wax on your car is a great way to protect it from the elements and keep it looking cleaner for longer. This protective coating (usually applied after a car wash) provides a barrier for dirt, debris, water stains, and even UV sun damage. However, it doesn’t last forever. In fact, it’s meant to be a temporary layer that can be easily removed and re-applied according to your needs.

So how can you tell if your car is ready for a new coat? The most common answer to this is the water droplet test.

Water Droplet Test

The entire point of car wax is to repel all that dirt and water doing its best to degrade your paint job. This means that you can “test” how much wax you have on by applying water and seeing how it reacts.

You don’t need a ton of water to do this—simply wring a wet cloth over the surface or pour a small amount of liquid over the hood. If the water beads up into individual and visible droplets, then your wax is still doing its job. If it flattens or spreads out, then it’s probably time to consider a new application. The smaller and tighter the bead of water, the better your wax is working.

Finger Test

Once you get more accustomed to the way your car looks and feels when the wax is fresh, you may be able to run your hand over the surface and gauge for yourself. When the car is freshly cleaned and dried, move your fingers over the paint. If it feels slick and your hand moves easily, then the wax is still in place. If it feels gritty or there is resistance, then it’s probably time to re-apply.

Regular Car Waxes

If you can’t (or don’t want to) perform a water droplet or finger test, you can also stick to a fairly standard car wax routine. Most wax applications are designed to last between 30 and 45 days before they start to degrade. In other words, a monthly car wax is a great way to keep things looking great.

It’s also a good idea to wax after every wash. Because the best car washes cut through the wax layer to clean the paint underneath, it will need to be re-applied afterward. For the very best of results, consider a professional waxing with a full exterior detail of your vehicle.