I picked eight of the best liquid and paste waxes and pitted them against each other. Here are the best car wax results.
As a recovering wax addict, I know all too well how tempting they are. The lure of a new wax that promises ultimate gloss, incredible beading and lasting durability is impossible to resist. But away from the fancy packaging, delicious scents, and promises telling you exactly what you want to hear, how do you actually pick a good wax?
Without an in-depth wax test, exactly like this one, you’re at the mercy of the manufacturers. Every wax claims to be easy to use and perform well, but some are definitely better than others. So, for this test, I picked four liquid waxes and four paste waxes and pitted them against each other. And my test is not an easy-going one.
What makes a good car wax?
I’m looking for ease of application and removal, water behavior and value for money. I’m also going to be testing gloss and durability. Gloss is a tricky one, because, unlike polish, wax can often reduce the gloss readings on a panel. This, in fact, happened with a few of our waxes on test. If a wax does manage to increase gloss, then you know it’s adding serious shine.
As for durability, that’s something I’ll be testing over the next 3 months. Our brave test panel will be living outside over winter, dealing with the worst of the conditions. Every month, I will carry out an inspection to check water behavior to see if each wax is still present and performing. The results will be recorded here and might influence the final order at the end of the test period.
Enough chat – let’s get waxing. Read on for the results of my car wax group test.
Best car wax at a glance
- Best Liquid Wax Overall: Adam’s Graphene Liquid Wax RRP: $24.99 (£24.99)
- Approved: Meguiar’s Hybrid Ceramic Liquid Wax RRP: $23.99 (£35)
- Best Value Liquid Wax: Mothers Pure Brazilian Carnauba Wax RRP: $14.99 (£17.99)
- Best Paste Wax Overall and Best Value: Bilt Hamber Double Speed-Wax RRP: £16.95
- Approved: Meguiar’s Ultimate Paste Wax RRP: $26.99 (£40)
How I tested these products
Each section of our test panel was polished with Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound. The panels were then wiped down with CarPro Eraser to remove any polishing oils and ensure the surface was clean. Three gloss readings were taken from each section using our gloss meter, and the average was calculated.
Each wax was then applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions. An average gloss reading was once again taken for each section. Finally, the panel was sprayed with water and water behavior was observed.
Wax Durability Update – 6 Weeks
This was meant to be a one-month update, but varying weather meant I had to delay testing and it’s now a six-week update. That means the waxes have had to endure another two weeks of winter weather, so I’ll be interested to see how they are holding up. Before observing water behaviour, I washed the panel with Bilt Hamber Auto-Wash, as it’s a pure shampoo that’s wax- and additive-free. I then dried the panel and soaked it with water to see how the waxes were performing.
Liquid Wax Results
There is basically no point in ranking the liquid waxes because they’re pretty much all dead. The only one that’s still doing anything noticeable is Meguiar’s Hybrid Ceramic Liquid Wax. Even so, it’s just barely doing anything. Mothers Pure Brazilian Carnauba Wax was the only other liquid wax that gave a hint that it was still there, but that’s me being very generous.
I’m surprised and disappointed with these results. All eight waxes were applied on the same day, in the same conditions, and according to their respective instructions. As you’ll see below, the paste waxes are all still performing very well. So I am very surprised to see all the liquid waxes pretty much failed after just six weeks. I wonder if they are just very sensitive to ambient temperature when applying, but I really don’t know.
Paste Wax Results
1st: Auto Finesse Fusion
Auto Finesse Fusion ranked second for water behavior in the initial test, but it’s now moved up to first place. I barely had time to turn off the hose and grab my phone before it had cleared its section. Very impressive indeed.
2nd: Bilt Hamber Double Speed-Wax
Bilt Hamber, my winning paste wax, came first for water behavior and has now dropped to second place. It was incredibly close, though, and there was almost nothing between Double Speed-Wax and Fusion. Another very impressive performance.
3rd: Autoglym Ultra High Definition Wax
While Autoglym Ultra High Definition Wax originally came fourth for water behaviour, it’s now moved up to third. It’s performing very well at the moment, and I was impressed. Could Ultra High Definition Wax prove to be an endurance contender?
4th: Meguiar’s Ultimate Paste Wax
I really liked Meguiar’s Ultimate Paste Wax in the original test overall, but it’s dropped from third to fourth after six weeks. It’s still clearly present on the panel, and it’s still clearing water, but its performance has dropped significantly. We’ll see if it can hang on for another six weeks.
Best Car Wax Results
Adam’s Graphene Liquid Wax – Best Liquid Wax Overall
Size: 16 fl. oz (473ml) RRP: $24.99, buy now (£24.99).
- Pros: Very easy to use, extremely slick, good increase in gloss
- Cons: Poor water behavior
- Gloss before: 87.7
- Gloss after: 88.9
- Gloss change: +1.2
- Water behavior ranking: 7th
After ceramic came graphene, and Adam’s is one of the companies to jump on the trend. Its Graphene Liquid Wax incorporates the benefits of graphene in an easy-to-apply liquid form. As a coating, graphene is claimed to have numerous benefits over ceramic. These include greater durability, a higher water contact angle, and being less prone to water-spotting and etching. So what about when a wax is infused with graphene?
According to Adam’s, Graphene Liquid Wax is designed to refresh and rejuvenate paintwork. It also utilises the same reduced graphene-oxide ceramic resins within its graphene coating products to seal your paint and make your car more maintenance-friendly. It promises an easy on, easy off application, will fill minor imperfections, and swirls, and removes light oxidation.
Adam’s Graphene Liquid Wax certainly impressed me in terms of application. It went on very nicely and was very easy to remove. Its filling and mild correction properties no doubt are what helped it deliver an impressive increase in gloss. You can’t argue with a wax that does so much. It was also incredibly slick, with the gloss meter hanging on for dear life on the paintwork. I was surprised at how disappointing the water behavior was, though. Beading was minimal, and sheeting was slow, so I’ll be keeping an eye on it. Adam’s also promises 4-6 months of durability, so we’ll see about that, too. But even with some shortcomings, it’s my favourite liquid wax here. It’s lovely to use and delivers impressive results. A solid win for Adam’s Graphene Liquid Wax.
Meguiar’s Hybrid Ceramic Liquid Wax – Approved
- Pros: Best water behavior of any liquid wax on test
- Cons: A little pricey
- Gloss before: 88.4
- Gloss after: 88.6
- Gloss change: +0.2
- Water behavior ranking: 5th
With a graphene wax on the test, I had to throw something ceramic into the mix. Meguiar’s Hybrid Ceramic Liquid Wax was my choice here, and it’s an impressive-sounding offering. It contains Hybrid Si02 technology, which Meguiar’s says seals the paint for long-lasting protection and delivers extreme water beading. Meguiar’s says it’s ceramic made easy, which is stretching the truth a little. But what you get is a ceramic-infused liquid wax that has been designed to last. We’ll see how durable it proves, but I can certainly say it delivers in terms of water behavior.
Meguiar’s Hybrid Ceramic Liquid Wax delivered the most impressive water behavior of any of the liquid waxes on test. There was more sheeting than beading, and it was significantly better than any of the other liquid waxes here. It’s a little pricey and delivered the smallest gloss increase among the liquid waxes, but that water behavior is too impressive to ignore.
Mothers Pure Brazilian Carnauba Wax – Best Value Liquid Wax
- Pros: Very good value for money
- Cons: Sticky when applying, poor water behavior
- Gloss before: 87.7
- Gloss after: 88
- Gloss change: +0.3
- Water behavior ranking: 6th
From Mothers, we have a simple, old-school wax offering. Mothers Pure Brazilian Carnauba Wax delivers exactly what it says on the bottle. It’s made with the finest Brazilian number one yellow carnauba. Mothers says it delivers superior shine and protection, with richness and depth. In my test, it was just a pretty average liquid wax. Application and removal were so-so, with this wax feeling rather sticky.
The gloss meter just about managed to register a tiny increase in gloss. Carnauba wax is meant to deliver a rich, warm finish, so you might see that on red paint, for example. But my blue test panel didn’t look very different. Water behavior was also poor, with very slow sheeting. But it’s cheap at least, which makes it good value for money.
Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax
- Pros: Can be used in direct sun and on wet paintwork, tasty banana scent
- Cons: Non-existent water behavior
- Gloss before: 88.2
- Gloss after: 88.6
- Gloss change: +0.4
- Water behavior ranking: 8th
Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax always seems to be getting rave reviews, so I was keen to see how it would perform. Even if durability wasn’t going to be great, I was hoping for good gloss and a nice waxing experience. Chemical Guys says that Butter Wet Wax melts into the paint like butter, delivering a deep, wet look in minutes. Butter Wet Wax uses Brazilian carnauba and features a wipe-on, wipe-off formula. The company also says that you can use it to lightly cleanse paintwork, and wax and dry a wet car at the same time.
Butter Wet Wax has a lovely banana scent, and I would have been disappointed if it didn’t, based on the colour. It felt a bit sticky in terms of both application and removal, though. It did manage to deliver an increase in gloss, though. But it placed last in the water behavior test. There was no beading or sheeting, and the water just sat in its test square. I wondered if I’d actually forgotten to apply any wax, but it was definitely there. I don’t know how to explain it, but it was disappointing to see. As first impressions go, Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax made a disappointing one all-round.
Bilt Hamber Double Speed-Wax – Best Paste Wax Overall and Best Value
Size: 250ml RRP: £16.95, buy now. Not available in the US.
- Pros: Impressive gloss increase, exceptional water behavior, includes applicator and cloth, incredible value
- Cons: Not the easiest wax to apply and remove
- Gloss before: 87.8
- Gloss after: 88.9
- Gloss change: +1.1
- Water behavior ranking: 1st
Reading the Bilt Hamber website, Double Speed-Wax is described as a carnauba polymer paste wax with T1 carnauba. According to Bilt Hamber, the carnauba wax used provides a deep, rich, glossy, highly water repellent and detergent-resistant film. And while Bilt Hamber is not forthcoming about the polymer part, I’m convinced there’s some sort of wizardry going on here.
That’s the only way I can explain how such a cheap wax can perform so well and outperform far more expensive rivals here. It delivered the second-best increase in gloss, the best water behavior, and is less than half the price of the next-cheapest wax on test. It’s honestly astonishing.
It’s not perfect, though. Bilt Hamber says it’s easy to use, but I disagree. It’s very sensitive the applicator being overloaded, and quickly becomes sticky. It also feels a little grabby on removal. Other waxes here are nicer to use. But it’s the tiniest and only complaint I can muster. If it lives up to its promise of durability, Bilt Hamber Double Speed-Wax will walk this test.
Meguiar’s Ultimate Paste Wax – Approved
- Pros: Nice to apply and remove, can be used in direct sun, very impressive gloss increase, includes applicator and cloth
- Cons: Not much
- Gloss before: 86.7
- Gloss after: 88.2
- Gloss change: +1.5
- Water behavior ranking: 3rd
Meguiar’s Ultimate Paste Wax features a synthetic wax blend for maximum performance. Meguiar’s has refined the formula for enhanced durability and a glossier finish. Hydrophobic Polymer Technology increases surface tension for relentless water beading, and Meguiar’s says it’s also easy to apply and remove, even in direct sun. I have to say that this is one of the few waxes on test that really lived up to all the marketing hype.
First of all, it was very nice to use. It was lovely to apply, and very easy to remove. It also delivered the most impressive gloss increase of any wax in the entire test. And third overall out of all waxes tested for water behavior is an impressive result. The fact that you can use it in direct sun is also a welcome bonus. The only thing holding it back is the price, but Meguiar’s Ultimate Paste Wax is an excellent car wax.
Auto Finesse Fusion
Size: 150g RRP: £41.95, buy now. Not available in the US.
- Pros: Great water behavior, decent gloss increase
- Cons: Sticky when applying
- Gloss before: 87.7
- Gloss after: 88.4
- Gloss change: +0.7
- Water behavior ranking: 2nd
Auto Finesse offers no fewer than 7 paste waxes, with Fusion sitting comfortably in the midrange. I chose Fusion as it’s a hybrid wax, so should deliver good durability. It’s the second most expensive wax on test, so I wanted to see what you’re getting at this price point. Auto Finesse says that Fusion is a blend of Brazilian T1-Grade carnauba and advanced synthetic polymers. This means that it will give you the warm look of a natural hard car wax but with the prolonged durability of a man-made paint sealant. Auto Finesse says you’ll get up to 8 months of protection, which is impressive stuff.
Fusion has also been designed with a consistency specifically developed to spread thinly and buff easily. And it was actually very nice to work with. It felt a little sticky when applying, but was one of the easiest waxes to buff off. Water behavior was very impressive, with Auto Finesse Fusion placing a very close second. And it delivered a decent increase in gloss, too. I like this car wax, and I look forward to seeing how durable it proves to be.
Autoglym Ultra High Definition Wax
Size: 120g RRP: £68.99, buy now.
- Pros: Very nice to apply and remove, exceptionally slick, includes applicator and cloth
- Cons: Expensive, poor gloss results
- Gloss before: 88
- Gloss after: 87.5
- Gloss change: -0.5
- Water behavior ranking: 4th
Autoglym Ultra High Definition Wax certainly impresses when you read its credentials, and Autoglym describes this as its finest wax. An evolution of the first-generation UHD Wax, this new formula has been designed to deliver the ultimate mirror-like shine, providing more detail, depth and durability. It’s meant to be easier to apply and buff while also generating an even deeper shine.
It’s the most expensive wax on test, but it also delivers a very upmarket experience. The packaging, the jar, the applicator – it all looks and feels suitably luxurious. Autoglym Ultra High Definition Wax was the nicest wax to use in this test. It was lovely and easy to apply and buffed off like a dream, so it definitely delivers on that front. This wax also felt very slick to the touch.
However, it couldn’t muster decent gloss numbers, delivering a negative result, which was both surprising and disappointing. It also placed last out of the paste waxes in the water behavior test. Though it was extremely close between this and Meguiar’s. There’s still a chance for redemption with the durability testing, but Autoglym Ultra High Definition Wax proved to be disappointing, especially at this price point.
Car Wax FAQs
What Does Car Wax Actually Do?
On an un-prepped, unpolished surface, car wax will help to enhance gloss. However, car wax has plenty more to offer. Car wax adds a layer of protection to your paint that helps repel water, resists UV rays, heat, and pollutants and helps prevent oxidation. It also makes it harder for dirt to stick to the surface, helping to keep your car cleaner for longer and making it easier to wash.
Beading VS Sheeting
Different waxes display different water behavior. Some give you beading, which is where you get beautiful little droplets of water on the surface of your paint. Others sheet, which means the water runs off the surface rapidly. Beading looks pretty, but sheeting is ultimately more useful. In fact, water beads can actually cause water spotting if the sun comes out and dries them, as they will leave behind mineral content.
Liquid Or Paste – Which Car Wax Is Best?
Traditionally, liquid waxes were seen as being best for ease of application, while paste waxes were longer lasting. These days, it comes down to what the wax is made of. An old-fashioned carnauba paste wax will be massively outperformed by a synthetic liquid sealant all day long, for example. So what matters is the wax itself, not whether it’s a liquid or a paste.