Car Wax and plastic

Consumer reports suddenly removed their car wax ratings so I can’t check this.
Talking about plastic on exterior. Not the flat black stuff, but the plastic painted to match the car (like on bumpers) and the plastic-based fake chrome you find–especially on the front where it gets hit by bugs etc.
My favorite wax is not recommended for plastic. It seems like neglect to do no more than wash this stuff. So what do I put on it?
I am partial to one-step stuff (cleaner + wax). No abuse please.

Absolutely use the one-step stuff on painted plastic surfaces. It is the paint you are looking to protect, the plastic underneath doesn’t know the difference. As for chromed plastic, it should’t have any effect other than to clean of any gunk as it waxes. I’ve been using cleaner waxes of varying brands on both those type surfaces on older (11 to 14 year old) cars since new and they have protected very well. They surfaces are all still nice and shiny.

BTW, what is your favorite wax?

My bottle has a pretty definitive warning not to use on plastic, and the vanished Consumer Reports section had a column on compatibility with plastic. I don’t know whether there is any plain, non-painted plastic on cars…

I’ve been using Meguiars Cleaner Wax for 30 years with no issues on paint or plastic bumpers.

Ed B.

When the bottle says not to use on plastic, it’s referring to bare plastic, not to the painted plastic that your bumper is covered in. On bare plastic of the type many '70s and '80s bumpers were made, some waxes will leave a mess of swirls and not want to buff out to an even finish.

OK. This is NU Finish.

+1 to mountainbike’s comment.
Using wax on the unpainted gray/black trim of cars will leave a white residue.
However, I have been waxing the body-colored painted plastic parts of my cars for as long as I can remember, and have never had a problem.

Remember, once those plastic parts have been painted to match the steel body parts, you are not waxing plastic. You are waxing paint, and there is nothing wrong with waxing those painted plastic parts.

I agree with the others. For what it’s worth, my Meguiar’s Cleaner Wax says not to use it on rubber and unpainted surfaces.

So, I assume wax is safe for the tacky fake plastic chrome too.

wax is, yes. cleaner wax is not because that’s plastic dipped in a very thin layer of chrome, and once you eat through that chrome you expose the plastic… Which is often pink and not exactly the kind of thing you want showing on an otherwise nice looking car.

Personally, I only use cleaner wax if I need to correct a flaw in the paint, because many times the cleaner wax has abrasives in it. Use it enough and you’ll wear right down through the paint layers, especially on modern cars which tend to have very thin paint to save the factory money.

I use this on everything, painted and non-painted.

@melott, I’ve used Nu-finish for quite a few years before switching to Zymol. I used it on painted plastic and chromed plastic surfaces. Worked great. Yes, don’t use it on unpainted plastic, it, like any wax, it tough to get off the black. I have 2 cars with significant amounts of that black plastic trim, it is tough to get wax off.

It is also very tough to keep it looking black down here in the sub-tropics. I’m using Turtle Wax Back-to-Black. You don’t want THAT on the paint… and it runs if you don’t wipe off the excess, and it streaks on the plastic. I’ve not found anything that lasts longer than 6 weeks. I think I’ll try the ICE spray wax tho…

I just tried Meguiars Ulitmate Quik Wax. It’s a synthetic polymer sealant in a spray bottle. Loads easier than paste waxes - spray the car with a thin layer, then wipe off with a rag. It has my old 1993 MR2 shining like it just drove off the dealership lot.

Can’t comment on its durability vs standard waxes, though I suspect it will be poor compared to a properly applied paste wax, but for ease of application and end results it’s great.

Unlike a normal wax I didn’t have to be careful to avoid spraying on unpainted trim - it actually glossed that up too. You will have to come along behind and windex it off of your windows, though.

I use Meguiars wax…good stuff. The spray on wax is great for touch-up or to use between regular waxes. Doesn’t last nearly as long as regular wax.

I used NuFinish without problems for years. Now I use Meguiar’s with Carnuba wax. Both work great.