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When you think about car care, it’s easy to remember things like oil changes, tire rotations, and brakes. But taking care of the outside of your car is equally important. Waxing is a big part of that equation. While there are new products like ceramic and graphene coatings out there, nothing brings out the warmth and shine quite like traditional wax. But how often should you wax your car? Not as often as you might think.

Waxing a car too often can dull its shine
Applying wax to a Mercedes | Getty Images

Wax your car up to four times per year

Depending on where you live, you should wax your car two to four times per year. If you live up north and store your car for the winter, two applications should be enough. Give it a wash and wax when it comes out of storage to maintain the shine for summer drives. In addition, reapply wax midway through the season to maintain that shine and protection through the fall and during winter storage.

According to Meguiar’s, those who drive their cars year-round can apply wax up to four times a year. The frequency depends largely on how much you drive and where you park. If the vehicle sits outside, more protection may be a good idea. But if it’s your weekend toy and spends a lot of time in the garage, one wax application every six months is adequate.

Car wax offers both protection and shine

Waxing your car may seem like a purely cosmetic exercise, but there are benefits beyond a rich shine. A layer of wax can help protect your car’s paint from environmental hazards. It protects from issues like industrial fallout, acid rain, and even bird droppings

Using the right wax can offer months of protection. This is especially true if a vehicle sits in a garage when not in use. Getting hands-on with your car care is always fun. However, there are some drawbacks to applying wax too often.

Waxing too much can have negative effects

It’s easy to think that more wax equals more protection, but it often means less shine. As the layers of wax build up on the exterior surface, the clarity of the paint below will diminish. Keep in mind that it may take several applications for the dullness to be noticeable. However, once you notice the lack of depth in your paint, the task of removing it all can be a pain.

An automated car wash offering wax services
An automated car wash and wax | Getty Images

Removing wax build-up from car paint

If you feel like your car has been waxed too much, you’ll have to wash it all off to get back to the clear coat. If there is a heavy wax buildup, you may need to use a concentrated soap or wash the car multiple times to remove all of it. Ultimately, the goal should be to get back to the base layer of clearcoat, and then add a layer of wax once the car is dry.

If the car is frequently parked in the sun, the wax layer may be uneven. When this happens, you’ll notice spots that are still dull while others remain shiny after the wash process. Be sure to clean these areas thoroughly to ensure complete wax removal before moving on to the next step.

Furthermore, there are specific car soaps out there that are meant specifically for stripping wax and coatings from your car’s clear coat. These specialty formulas will help make your reset wash process much easier – just remember to avoid using them during your maintenance washes to keep your protective layer intact.

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