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Does waxing your car ruin the factory clear coat?

Good day, folks!

This question may have been asked before. I actually searched to see if it was. I am not yet familiarized with the site’s functionality and its features, so I didn’t happen to find a thread on this topic. So I apologize in advance if this question gets asked frequently.

I went to Wal*Mart to purchase wax for my car. I brought my brother with me who is a car enthusiast. He has owned several different cars over the years and does repair on them himself. He’s on a short visit to my place and will be returning to his country within a couple of days. So I am not fortunate to have him work on my car, as we both live in different countries.

Upon choosing the wax to purchase, my brother stopped me from purchasing it and said car wax ruins factory clear coat. He argued with me for like 15 minutes about the matter while I was defending that wax should protect the car paint and also the clear coat.

His suggestions:

  1. Wash car once a week
  2. Remove bird poop/tree-sap as soon as they appear
  3. Keep pressure hose 4 to 6 feet away from car exterior when washing.

Has anyone ever heard of waxing your car ruin the clear coat? If your defense is in favor of waxing your car, what is the best and less aggressive wax formula?

Thank you.

I do not know about clear coat, but regularly applied synthetic paint sealer protects quite well from rust spots forming around paint chips and small scratches

Treat the clear coat the same as you would on a single stage paint job.

Clear coat is just paint without any pigments.

So it requires occasional waxing to protect it.



Not going to call your brother names but is he ever wrong. Might want to verify anything else he says.

@Clueless33 The web site ( AUTOGEEK ) has more information about waxing and detailing than a person needs.


Ultraviolet rays from the sun destroys clearcoat.I have seen clearcoat damage on 2-3 year old vehicule in California and Florida. Best way to avoid damage is to park in the shade or use a car cover. A coat of polymer wax will protect the clearcoat from the sun but you need to do this often.

The clearcoat protects the paint below it from the Sun and the environment the car is driven in. You don’t have to repaint as often when clearcoat is used. Similarly, a good wax will protect the clearcoat from the same environmental issues. The paint without wax can last 10 to 12 years before the clearcoat is gone and the paint fades. Use wax, and the factory paint job will last a lot longer. Do a search here for @the_same_mountainbike’s Scion. He’s had it for 12 years IIRC, and it looks new. He waxes his car.


Thanks Jt.

No, it absolutely positively does NOT damage the clear coat. It PROTECTS it.
Here’s my car. It has clearcoat and I wax it regularly. It was 12 years old last June, and these photos were taken this past fall. I commuted in it in NH, a hard environment on a finish, until I retired in 2013. It has 249,000 miles.

This time your brother will have to learn from YOU!!!


Wow. That car looks spotless and shiny. Do you park it outside or inside of a garage?

My car is parked outside under trees and I have no other option. It gets pooped on by birds and tree saps.

Would you recommend a wax brand?

A cleaner/wax can damage your clearcoat because it contains abrasives, some more than others. A pure wax is best. I prefer a crosslinked polymer wax like Meguire’s Ultra Wax or Mother’s Synthetic Wax.


Read this, as some people on this board are apt to provide misinformation.



Thanks. It gets garaged at night, but spent all its days in the open… much of the time commuting on the highway 31 miles each way.

Meguire’s and Mothers are both good, but any brand name wax will work great. I prefer one with carnauba wax. The important thing is to keep it clean and waxed. Clean is as important as wax. As you and others rub against the car over the years, and you will, having dirt on the finish creates microscratches… and the damage is cumulative. Keeping the car clean prevents this damage.

Keith is right about “clean” products with abrasives. They’ll create the microscratches too.

Such as the person who said to wax the car and leave it on for a week before wiping it off. That is why I mentioned Autogeek .

I don’t like blasting the dirt off with a high pressure wand either. Better than leaving the dirt on but still hard on the paint. I prefer hand washing when possible.

Your brother might be thinking of “polish wax,” which has abrasives in it to polish the car. If you use that on a regular basis you will eventually rub through the clear coat. But normal, non-abrasive wax is just fine.

I’ve waxed my Corolla twice a year since it was new 25 years ago and never had a problem with damage to the clear coat. Used a product called Rain Dance. Easy on, easy off type. Besides that the only thing I do is park under cover at night, try to park in the shade outside, hose the car off once a week, and give it a good washing (soap and water, by hand) once a month or so. Finish looks nearly good as new.

The only concern about wax I have, I have heard rumors that some types of wax can cause fish-eying if the car ever needs a new paint job.

Oooohhhhhhh the pain, the pain. Where do people come up with this stuff?

I’m the one who leaves the wax on for a while before wiping it off :wink: … Its admittedly a compromise , appearance isn’t so good, but the extra time makes the wax job hold better. I left the wax for 6 months on my truck, and haven’t had to wax the truck for the winter like I usually do.

I should add I come from a long line of weirdos … lol … my dad used to wash his truck with dirt … clay really .

When I lived in Japan in the mid 70’s, that was very common. Not sure why because they only kept their cars for 4 years then.

I remember the old days of Turtle Paste Wax. We didn’t have liquid waxes. If that stuff was left on, it was an enormous amount of work to get it off. I learned back then to polish it off as soon as it was dry. The lesson has stuck with me, even though the waxes have evolved.

I used liquid turtle wax back about 1959. Yeah I remember the DuPont paste wax too and trying to get it off.

Actually nothing wrong with a polish too once or twice a year. You may think wax alone gives a good shine but I clay, then polish with a buffer, glaze, and then wax. Each step gives a smoother surface. Haven’t gone through the clear yet. Just keep moving.