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Will washing and waxing damage my car's paint job?

Our tech guru has the answer

How often you should wax your car

Hi, Top Gear. I'm hoping you could enlighten us. We are newbies in the world of cars, and we just bought our first car. I would like to ask if waxing and washing the car can damage the paint. Since it's the rainy season, I don't usually wash it.

Others say washing cars very often can damage the paint. Now we are confused on whom to follow since we can only trust you guys, and you are the only experts that we know. Please help us. Thanks in advance!



Hi, JC. Congratulations on your new car!

When cars are made, they undergo very stringent standards. Part of those standards is making sure that the paint on each and every one of them is completely dry before they proceed along the assembly and quality control process.

Waxing does not damage the paint of the car unless you do it wrong. These days, the only way you can do it wrong is by using the wrong product and being overzealous with the orbital polisher.

Now, how do you know which product to use? There are many types of wax, and for new cars the one you want is a non-abrasive one that does not 'eat' away the surface layer of your paint.

I don't know how long you've had your car on the road, but one of the first things I do when I get a new car is to give it a few coats of wax. That's right. Wax the car more than once, and do it by hand, including the polishing. It's tedious, and it requires time and effort. But it can be done over a weekend.


Waxing also allows you to inspect and get familiar with the car up close. Giving it more than one layer of initial waxing makes for fewer wax jobs later on. I've been able to get away with waxing twice to three times a year only after that. A good way to determine when you need to retouch or re-wax your car is when the water no longer beads on the car.

(Read: 10 tips for ensuring the longevity of your car)

As for washing the car, make sure you use a clean washcloth. If you use a rough or dirty washcloth, or the water bucket you get your water from is full of grit and other foreign objects, you will likely scratch your paint. Some people use a flowing hose, but I've always been able to wash a car using just one 20L pail of water, unless it is very muddy.

You want to start off from the topmost of the vehicle and work your way down, leaving the wheels for last. Personally, I prefer to start with all the glass before doing the roof and then the sides. Check your washcloth often for trapped dirt and remove it, or it will scratch the paint. Using a chamois-type material to dry off the car is a good idea. After you're done, get rid of the excess water that you didn't use.

I also wipe off the car after it rains and it looks like the rain has stopped. It helps avoid getting water stains on the car, compared to letting it dry by itself.

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Ferman Lao
Technical Editor


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