Wax or Sealer To Protect My Finish?

Wax On
For this week’s Tech Tuesday tip from Woody’s Automotive Group, we want to answer the age old question: “Is it better to use a “Wax” or “Sealer” to protect my car’s finish?”


Both types of products will protect your paint against moisture, ozone and ultraviolet. Sealers, which are typically petroleum based and contain silicones, usually last much longer (up to a year or more) than ordinary wax. But the distinction between these two products is blurring because many waxes now contain silicone and other ingredients designed to extend protection. A wax or sealer that is applied by rubbing it on your car’s finish will always give you better protection than a product that’s sprayed on at a car wash. Car wash waxes give a nice temporary shine, but don’t provide lasting protection. When choosing a wax or sealer, choose one that’s “right” for your vehicle’s finish. Most newer cars and trucks have what’s called a “base coat, clear coat” finish. Over the base color coat of paint is a layer of clear paint to provide added shine and protection. Some car makes say it isn’t really necessary to wax or seal a base coat, clear coat paint job. But it certainly isn’t going to hurt anything — provided you use a product that is designed for this type of finish.


Wax or sealer for a base coat, clear coat finish should contain no abrasives or polish. Abrasives are often added to wax to remove the oxidized layer from the surface of the paint. When the wax is applied, it has a polishing effect that helps shines up dull, faded paint. It works great on solid color finishes, but not clear coated finishes because it scratches and dulls the clear coat.


  • Always follow the instructions that come with the product.
  • Wash and dry your vehicle before you wax it.
  • Don’t wax it in the direct sun during the heat of the day. Wax in in the shade, or early in the morning or late in the day when the sun isn’t so hot.
  • Use a clean, soft, damp rag or sponge to apply the wax or sealer.
  • Avoid getting wax or sealer on the glass or on matte black finished moldings or paint, or on a vinyl roof.
  • Apply wax to a small area (a door, fender, half the hood, etc.), then let it dry before wiping and buffing. Then move on to the next area and repeat until the job is done. If you try to do the whole car or too large an area, the wax or sealer may have too much drying time and be difficult to wipe or buff off.
  • Elbow grease works best. Power buffers are faster, but require skill to do a really nice job. CAUTION: If using a wax or polish that contains an abrasive, excessive force on a power buffer may buff right through the finish!
  • You shouldn’t have to repeat the job until water no longer beads up on the finish when your vehicle is wet.


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