Liquid Car Wax – Tried, Tested, Reviewed and Explained
Liquid car wax has definitely become way more popular over the last couple of years than at any time I can remember.
There are more companies that are adding these product types to their range, which means two things:
- Detailers are enjoying using these types of products
- The technology is improving as more people move away from hard waxes in favour for liquid car wax
5.0 Pro’s and con’s
6.0 Final thoughts
A common question that I often get asked which is better, liquid wax or a hard/paste wax? Like pretty much every single aspect of car detailing, there is no right or wrong answer to this.
Due to how each product works and probably more importantly, the time they take to apply, means that certain products will fit certain detailers better than others.
But, what I will say, and I know I harp on about this in pretty much every article on Prep My Car, if you don’t prepare your car properly, the wax is irrelevant. No matter how much you spend on the most fancy, highest carnauba content wax in the world, it can’t cover up defects the way that polishing your car can.
Before you enjoy the rest of this article, I want to make you aware that all my testing was done on paint that has been prepared properly.
This includes, but not limited to:
- Safe wash method
- Decontamination (tar/glue, Iron remover, claying etc.)
- Safe drying process
- Machine or hand polish where applicable
- IPA wipe down
So, the disclaimer is out the way, but it’s important to stress this as it’s often an area that people don’t get right and it’s the main reason why products, such as the ones within this article, don’t work to their fullest potential.
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If you’ve spent any time on detailing forums of social media pages, you will see that there are dozens of liquid waxes to choose from and choosing the best liquid car wax can be overwhelming.
I wanted to conduct this test to try and get people away from the “mainstream” products that people see in their local DIY stores or mechanical stores. Without naming them, we all know who they are.
These aren’t necessarily bad products, far from it, but the range is very limited to what’s actually on offer and could even open your eyes to some new brands as well.
As part of this process I looked at 24 different liquid waxes, before getting my hands on 10 of those to bring you the 4 best liquid waxes. It is worth noting that as more products arrive on the market, this list is subject to change.
Without too much more chat, let’s look at the products, shall we? After this, I’ve explained in more detail about how liquid waxes work and I’m hopeful some nuggets of info to demonstrate how they differ from other products.
Wax Planet – Maracana Liquid Wax
Wax Planet have seen their stock grow massively over the last couple of years. The company have managed to produce a plethora of waxes in that time, with new products being released seemingly on a weekly basis.
Their Maracana Liquid Wax is one of their better products in my opinion.
The wax comes as a mix of both Montan and Carnauba wax, which allows it to have an almost gel like consistency, slightly thicker than most other liquid waxes I’ve tested.
The product was applied using just a couple of blobs onto a foam applicator pad and it would appear that a little goes a long way. The 500ml bottle that I tested would seemingly last a long time, offering up 20+ full coats of a medium sized car, possibly even more than that.
It was advised from the bottle to simply apply with a thin layer, allow to haze for a minute or so and then remove. I worked a panel at a time, making sure I used my cross-stich method of vertical and horizontal lines.
The removal of the wax was really easy. I used a plush microfiber cloth and simply applied as little pressure before it was removed.
The results were really quite excellent and also fairly surprising. I’ll harp on about prep work again, but I definitely saw some enhancements from the Maracana liquid wax in terms of depth and sheen.
The only real drawback for the product is that the durability hasn’t been the best. After just a month I can see areas where the wax is starting to lose some of its hydrophobic qualities.
As a workaround, I would definitely layer this wax up. Whilst there is no mention of layering on the bottle, considering the time it takes to apply – no time at all – I’d state this wouldn’t reuire an awful lot of extra effort.
Things to note:
- Thicker consistency means that it’s easy to over apply. Thin layers work best.
- Could be better suited to DA application, although worked out just fine by hand.
- Very easy to apply and remove. Much quicker than hard/paste waxes.
- Superb finish and depth of gloss.
- Durability seems to be lacking a little and I would advise to layer it up to improve this.
- Easily get 20+ coverings with single 500ml bottle
- Maracana liquid wax is a blend of Montan and Carnauba wax in a super slick liquid form.
- Create a stunning show wax finish in the quickest time possible.
- Super easy to apply and remove leaving behind the slickest paint and fantastic gloss.
Chemical Guys – Butter Wet Wax
Butter Wet Wax. That’s got to be one of the best names for any wax, right? It just sounds so good.
Chemical Guys are probably one of the best when it comes to packaging and marketing for their products, and you’d have to agree that the Butter Wet Wax follows suit.
Another product that allows you the easiest of applications. Unlike the Maracana Liquid wax above, Butter Wet Wax is 100% carnauba, which offers a slightly different texture. It’s more of a gloopy finish, but it comes out of the bottle really well, with next to no mess.
Apply to product to the car was carried out using a microfiber sponge for this, as that’s what they recommend. Straight lines, horizontal to vertical as per.
The bottle states that you’re able to simply wipe on and wipe off, which is a popular attribute to liquid waxes. But, in my experience, I like to leave it for just a minute or so to cure slightly. I found that by doing this I wasn’t just moving excess product about and instead, removing the product which is what we want to do.
In fact, the finish is so good that my neighbour even commented on it asking what I’d done differently. He sees me cleaning a lot and never takes much interest, but was drawn in like a moth to a flame. He even had me send him a link to the product!
The downside is that of its durability qualities. It’s poor to be honest. If you get a month or so, you’ve done quite well. But, it’s not designed to be a particularly durable product, which is what a lot of people fail to understand.
Butter Wet Wax isn’t a show wax, but it’s not your winter coat either. It’s designed for the detailer who’s happy to top up once a month and keep their car looking as wet and glossy as possible. A slight compromise on durability for sheer aesthetics.
Now, if these credentials were a part of a hard wax, I’d be less inclined to run with it, mainly because of the time it takes to apply a hard wax, let it cure and then remove. I can literally do the whole car and buff in less than 5 minutes.
Top tip – I watched a review on this product by the Forensic Detailing Channel who stated that the best use for Butter Wet Wax was as a top up. I think this describes in really well. It can sit on your sealant or whatever protection you have for a few weeks giving you immense shine but shouldn’t be used on its own.
Things to note:
- Super easy to apply and can get through the whole car in around 5 minutes.
- Can be used on plastic trim and even glass if required.
- Provides immense gloss and depth on well prepared paint.
- Poor when it comes to durability, but this isn’t the intended use for this wax.
- Very reasonably priced and offers great value for money.
- Can be applied to a wet car, but for best results, I’d dry the car first.
- 100% carnauba-based wax
- New formulation for even easier application
- Deep wet Look to any paintwork
- More uva & uvb protection
- Ultra smooth protective coating
Bilt Hamber – Hydra Wax
I’m a big Bilt Hamber fan and I genuinely think they are one of the most underrated companies in the detailing sector at the minute. Their work with Hydra Wax is prime example of this.
The first thing that strikes you is the aluminium bottle that the product comes in. It’s very ‘premium’ and whilst has no reflection on the product, is a nice touch. The pack that I got also came with a microfiber cloth and foam applicator, both of which were pretty decent.
The Hydra Wax was as easy to apply as any of the other products in this list. You just need a really small amount on your applicator pad and then you are good to go.
It’s worth noting that this liquid wax will require you to leave it haze for around 5-10 minutes depending on your climate. This means that if you’re looking for something that’s wipe on/wipe off, it’s likely you need to look elsewhere, especially if you’re in a hotter climate.
The dull 12-degree day in the UK was perfect for application and after around 10 minutes, the product buffed off really easily.
The strength of Bilt Hamber Hydra Wax comes from its durability, an area that both of the other two products lacked in. Hydra Wax is around 50% in T1 carnauba wax, meaning that the rest is made up of synthetics and water. The carnauba content is lower than the other two, which means the synthetics allows for better durability.
In terms of hydrophobic qualities, Hydra is the best I’ve tested from the liquid wax section. Beads stand tight and proud, and water with an open-ended hose just runs away. You’ll be looking at around 1-3 months in terms of durability as well, which is excellent for a liquid wax.
The cost is a little higher than some, but the fact that you get a microfiber and applicator pad within the pack certainly makes up for the extra cost. If you’re looking for durability over looks, Bilt Hamber Hydra Wax should be your first port of call.
Things to note:
- Comes in a handy kit that includes microfiber and applicator pad.
- Needs to cure for 5-10 minutes, which means that not as well suited to warmer climates.
- Levels of gloss and aesthetics are good, but not great.
- Hands down the best for durability from any liquid wax.
- Easy application and removal.
- Best uses with a panel cleanser.
- High T1 carnauba wax content
- Easily outperforms expensive paste waxes
- Produces ultra deep durable shine
- Super easy to use
- Detergent proof
Auto Finesse – Radiance
The Auto Finesse range is one of the best in the business in my opinion. I was first introduced to the brand via their 3 in 1 polish, Triple and since then have been able to test a lot of their waxes.
Just so you know, Desire is one of my all-time favourite hard waxes!
I’m a sucker for a well branded product and I think that few looks better than Radiance. The colour, the smell, the quality of bottle even, it just oozes class and I like that!
The product itself is has a high level of Carnauba content, but it’s mixed well with other oils, minerals and water. The consistency straight out of the bottle is almost gel like, but that’s a good thing as it means you don’t need to over apply. In fact, another product where less is definitely more.
I used a microfiber block applicator for no other reason than that’s what they use in the promotional videos, so assume that works best. A couple of drops and then straight horizontal and vertical lines made application very easy.
The results were really impressive. It adds huge depth to the paint and whilst the finish was a little darker and deeper than others I’ve tested, I liked that it offered something different, even if it was a marginal change in aesthetics.
I think Radiance is going to be best suited to darker cars. I’ve not really any facts to back this up, but I feel like the deeper finish might not be as clinical on lighter coloured cars, potentially leaving you wanting.
Now, Auto Finesse states you get up to 3 months’ worth of durability. This may be true for warmer climates, but in the UK, I found the product starting to sag after just a month or so, albeit in pretty poor weather.
But, it’s not really a criticism as pretty much all manufacturers I find are a little more optimistic compared with real-world scenarios.
The reason that Radiance finds itself in 4th (remember, this is out of dozens that have been looked at for testing) is that it’s probably the best all-rounder in the pack. I think there are better products in all sectors than this liquid wax, but I also think there are few (if any) that are as consistent in all areas. #my-id Things to note:
- Wax on, wax off product, but best results come from allowing to cure for a minute or two
- Super-fast application and consistency of liquid is great
- Well balanced formula and high carnauba content allows for sleek finish
- Works great with Auto Finesses Triple polish as an LSP
- Tried and tested across the industry and held in high regard
- DURABLE for up to 3 Months
- Easy on/off application
- Non abrasive formaula
- Designed, developed & trusted by professional detailers
- Durable for up to 3 months
This is another question that people ask me, a lot!
Unfortunately, I can’t really answer it. Well, I can, and I will, but it’s what makes a great liquid car wax for me. What I want from my product isn’t necessarily what you may want from your product.
Hopefully it should give you a little food for thought though and all the products that I’ve tested will highlight each individual aspect of the liquid wax.
The key thing for me is that I’m looking for its aesthetics. I want my wax to look glossy as hell and make my paint pop. I want people to look at my car and by amazed at how reflective it is and I want them to ask what the specs are in the paint. That my friend, is called fleck and I freaking love it!
I wash my car around once a fortnight at least, so I keep on top of it shall we say. I will look to wax it around every 1-2 months. So, durability isn’t a huge issue for me. Most decent waxes should last at least this time and often much more. If you don’t want to be waxing as often as me, then you need a durable liquid wax.
Whilst an easy application is always preferred, it’s not something that I need. I’ve detailed dozens of cars and I’ve worked with many products. I generally know how they work or what issues that may arise from using it.
That being said, something that is just too much to work with and takes extra weet-a-bix in the morning to remove, will likely go straight in the bin.
Next up, I’m looking for hydrophobic qualities. The idea of a wax is to keep things off your paint. Dirt, grime, dust, contaminants and even water.
I want to see those water drops beading like crazy. Tall, proud, singular. For me, it looks amazing when it’s like this, but it also assures me that the wax is doing its job.
Finally, I want value for money. I don’t have a bottomless pit of money to spend on detailing products. Although, my garage may suggest otherwise. If a £10 product works just as well as a £50 product, then I won’t be repurchasing the more expensive product.
The make-up of all of these factors, for me, create a great liquid car wax and hopefully will offer you some food for thought when choosing what is best for you.
But, and I’m going to mention this again, any wax is only as good as your prep. If you haven’t polished and prepared your paint to the best possible standard, then no liquid wax is going to make your paint ‘pop’ unfortunately.
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One of the massive positives for me with a liquid wax is that the application process is so much easier than that of a hard or paste wax.
Due to the fact it’s a liquid, you just squeeze out what you need on to your applicator pad and away you go. There’s no need to be rubbing your applicator in a pot trying to get the dregs of the tub onto your applicator, which is probably my biggest peeve when it comes to hard waxes.
Before I move on, I really do recommend checking out the manufacturer’s instructions for each product, as they will differ. These guys want you to get the best results, so they’ve tried their product in many different ways and are telling you which is best.
That being said, some companies are better at it than others, which is why I wanted to give you some pointers as well.
First step, do not put too much product onto your applicator. You need to make sure it’s as thin as possible and this is for two reasons:
- To get the full effects of the wax, you don’t need a lot of product. A thin layer offers you the same protection as thick layer, because when you come to buff it off, it’s only removing the wax that hasn’t adhered to your paint. The rest is just waste, which is costing you money.
- The more you put on, the harder it is to remove. Wax cures into a hard product and if you leave it too long or have too much on, it becomes almost impossible to buff off. I’ve seen many times where people put way too much on and then have to strip the whole car as it’s set rock solid and can’t be buffed.
Second, I like to use straight lines when applying my wax. This goes for liquid and hard wax.
Swirls are an issue that all detailers hate. We do what we do to get rid of them. Swirls are in a circular shape, so I want to minimise the risk of creating these tiny scratches and go in straight lines over a circular motion.
I may get shouted down here, but even if the manufacturer states circular motions, which some do, I’d still opt for straight lines.
I look at it as a patchwork quilt. I go from up to down, then across from left to right to create the quilt. Weird, I know, but it works great for me.
As liquid waxes are so versatile, you can even look to apply them with a Dual Action polisher if you like. It works really well actually and might get you a little more cut in the paint, removing a few defects. Although, that’s not really what waxes are designed to do, which is where polishing comes in… but that’s another article altogether.
My advice would be to run it on a low speed and just take your time. Let the machine do the work and don’t spend too long in one spot. Remember, you’re looking to protect the paint at this point, not correct it.
Removing should be a pretty simple process. Use a plush microfiber towel and apply the minimum pressure possible to remove the product.
With liquid wax you shouldn’t need to leave it to cure as the wax reacts differently to that of hard or paste waxes. This allows you to simply wipe on, buff off. Go at one panel at a time and you won’t be far wrong.
Remember, keep your towels clean and free from contaminates. Never use dirty towels and if you drop it, do not, at any point before washing, use it on your paint!
Finally, a great tip that I read on one of the detailing forums was to apply liquid wax like it were a £1,000 wax. Because liquid waxes are generally cheaper than hard waxes, people often lose sight over their true value.
Just take your time and go one panel at a time and you won’t go far wrong.
The main reason to use a liquid wax over a hard wax has to be the ease of application for me.
Everything from apply the product to your applicator to buffing the product away is just easier and you can get your car protected in a much shorter period of time.
Liquid waxes are often quite a bit cheaper than most hard waxes as well. Although I would argue that you get more for your money with a tub of hard wax, assuming the standard 200ml, compared to a 200ml or even a 500ml liquid wax.
A lot of people see a liquid wax as a much more user-friendly product as well. You just pour it out the bottle, apply and wipe off. They don’t need any curing time and in 15 minutes you can comfortably have your whole car waxed and ready to go.
Another key factor why you should use a liquid wax over hard wax is that the majority of them can be applied in direct sunlight.
So, for those that don’t know (again, written many times on this already), it’s highly advised that you wax your car out of direct sunlight. In fact, if possible the whole wash and correction stage should be done outside of direct sunlight.
The reason is that the sun actually bakes the wax onto the car and with it makes it very hard to remove. You need to allow hard waxes to cure, so in direct sunlight it’s almost impossible to say when it’s ready to buff off.
As liquid waxes need to be buffed off immediately and require little to no curing time anyway, it makes it an ideal product for detailers who are unable to find shade to clean their car.
If this does affect you, it’s worth noting that Adams offer a whole range of products that are designed to be “sunlight friendly”.
- Easy to apply
- Often cheaper initial outlay for the product
- Can be applied in direct sunlight
- Can rival results of hard wax
- Technology in products is increasing all the time
- Application time much shorter than that of hard wax
- Lacks durability compared to hard wax
- Often lower carnauba content affecting aesthetics
- Finish can look a little dull if not applied correctly
- Can be tough to remove if left for too long
Hopefully this article has given you a few things to consider when picking up your next liquid wax.
If you are new to the detailing world, liquid wax is a great place to start and it’s a product that will be much easier to apply and remove than hard wax.
That being said, if I had to choose I would likely still head for the hard wax option, which for me, works best. Remember, I spoke earlier in the article and you need to way up what works for YOU!
What I will say is that making this article has definitely opened up my eyes to liquid waxes. Will they replace my hard waxes? Not just yet, but I’d happily use them and enjoy them just the same.