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How Much Does It Cost To Wax and Buff Your Car?

Waxing and buffing both improve your car’s looks, but they do so differently. While buffing involves the removal of a layer of damaged paint and leaving behind a pristine and shiny surface, waxing entails the application of a wax layer that adds a gloss and protects your car’s paint. So, how much does it cost to wax and buff your car?

Men confused how much it cost

It costs between $105 to $450 to wax and buff your car. For car waxing only, expect to pay anywhere from $55 to $150. On the other hand, car buffing will cost you $50 to $300. The prices vary depending on the detailer used.

The rest of this article will explain the determining factors that contribute to the price of a buff and wax. I’ll also discuss if buffing and waxing are worth the cost, and explain why you should avoid waxing and buffing your car at home.

Why Waxing and Buffing Prices Vary

Hand buffing a car

Newbies to car detailing often wonder why waxing and buffing prices vary. Car washes often have settled costs, increasing only with the size of the vehicle. However, on the car detailing side, things are somewhat different.

Waxing and buffing prices can vary depending on:

  • The products used.
  • The size of the car.
  • The state of the vehicle.
  • The reputation of the detailer.

Let’s look at these determining factors in greater detail.

The Products Used

The products used during waxing and buffing dictate the cost of the process. For instance, the different types and forms of wax used have varying prices and modes of application.

Natural carnauba wax is the preferred choice for most car detailers because it provides a deeper shine than synthetic wax. The price rises with an increase in carnauba concentration.

Therefore, prepare to dig deeper into your pocket if you want the wax with the highest carnauba concentration.

The most common forms of wax are paste, liquid, and spray wax. Spray wax is the cheapest and wears off the quickest; therefore, expect to pay close to the lower price estimate when using spray wax.

Liquid wax sits in the middle regarding longevity, ease of application, and price. Paste wax is the most expensive, long-lasting, and difficult to apply.

Applying expensive paste wax can be challenging and time-consuming, though it produces spectacular results. If you choose to have paste wax applied to your car, you’ll pay significantly more than the person who picks spray wax.

Buffing compounds vary in price depending on their abrasiveness. You’ll likely pay more money if the technician needs to use abrasive compounds to polish your car.

The Size of the Car

SUVs and trucks generally pay more for waxing and buffing than average size vehicles as there’s more surface area for the detailer to cover.

A detailer using paste carnauba wax will spend far less time waxing a small town car than a pick-up truck. The adage that time is money applies perfectly: you pay more for the extra time a detailer spends waxing and buffing your vehicle.

Buffing may require the detailer to go over every square inch of your car with an electric buffer. Like waxing, the professional will take more time with a larger vehicle than a smaller one.

Some detailers base their pricing solely on the size of the car. Therefore, they require you to pay more as the size of your car increases.

The State of the Vehicle

The external condition of your vehicle dictates how much you’ll need to pay for waxing and buffing.

A car that’s waxed regularly sometimes needs a quick and cheap wax spray to rejuvenate the existing wax layer, translating to low costs. However, a car that’s never been waxed may require expensive waxing to produce the desired results.

Wax fades depending on several factors, including the type of wax used and the environmental conditions your car’s subjected to. Most natural waxes last for a maximum of three months.

Compared to synthetic waxes, carnauba waxes provide your car with a deeper shine. However, synthetic waxes last longer, and the glow they provide isn’t too bad. So, if you want to save on waxing costs, go for synthetic waxes. You’ll have to accept a duller finish, but it will save you the cost of frequent waxing.

The state of the vehicle matters most during buffing. A car with multiple clear coat imperfections will require a thorough buffing job, translating to higher costs.

Buffing works by removing the damaged clear coat layer to leave a new layer. If your car has minor defects, the technician will use less time and fewer compounds to buff your vehicle.

However, as the clear coat damage increases, the technician will need more time and buffing compounds to correct the paint. Minor paint correction can take about 3 hours, while major paint correction can take up to 12 hours.

More time and more product used translates to a higher buffing bill. To maintain your car’s paint in the best condition, have it buffed twice a year.

The Reputation of the Detailer

Like with most things, the reputation of a product or service matters. That’s why you generally pay more for an iPhone than an Android phone.

Established detailers charge more for their services because they guarantee results. They have the best tools and the requisite skills and experience to wax and buff your car to perfection.

When it comes to waxing and buffing, in particular, cheap is expensive. The biggest risk with buffing isn’t a mediocre job but one that forces you to consider repainting.

Removing a layer of clear coat on your car’s paint is a delicate job that can end in disaster if the detailer removes too much. Therefore, before deciding on a detailing shop to visit, do your research and find out what people say about the business.

The chances are that the shops with higher reputations charge higher. I advise you to take the financial hit and do what is best for you and your vehicle.

Are Waxing and Buffing Worth It?

Before the prices of waxing and buffing turn you away, please take a minute to consider the benefits they offer your car.

Girl confused about waxing and buffing

Waxing and buffing are worth it because they correct and protect your car’s paint. Buffing removes imperfections on the clear coat, while waxing protects the paint from exposure to contaminants.

I’ll get into the benefits of both waxing and buffing in the sections below.


Waxing is one of the most affordable and most accessible paint protection options. It involves the application of a layer of wax on the car’s paint.

Waxing benefits your car in the following ways:

  • Waxing protects the car from contaminants: Contaminants like bird poop, tree sap, and UV radiation contribute to the degradation of car paint. They cause oxidation of the chemicals inside the paint, contributing to paint decay. Wax sits on the paint, protecting it from harmful contaminants.
  • Waxing protects the car from minor scratches: While other paint protection options offer better protection against scratches, wax does a decent job of preventing small rocks from scratching your car’s paint. Furthermore, wax prevents dirt accumulation; dirt can scratch your car’s paint during car washing.
  • Waxing adds shine and gloss: The immediate impact of waxing on your car is the added shine and luster. Remember that waxing magnifies whatever’s underneath, so bad paint will remain bad even when waxed. Ensure that your vehicle undergoes paint correction to remove blemishes before you wax. A paint-corrected car that’s undergone waxing is a sight to behold.
  • Waxing reduces the car’s depreciation: A car’s paint condition affects its valuation and, consequently, its resale value. Rather than having your vehicle repainted before resale, invest in protecting the paint through waxing. You’ll always enjoy looking at your car, and you’ll improve your car’s standing in the second-hand market.
  • Waxing prevents the formation of water spots: Ugly water spots form on a car’s surface when contaminated water evaporates, depositing the contaminants on the paint. Even evaporated rainwater can leave water spots on your vehicle. Car wax allows water to bead off the car’s surface, thereby preventing the formation of water spots.

The strength and ability of wax to provide the above benefits fade with time, forcing you to reapply. However, considering the relatively low price of waxing compared to other paint protection options, waxing is a no-brainer.

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Buffing is a paint correction option that removes imperfections on the car’s clear coat surface. It does so by taking off the thin layer of the clear coat harboring the defect.

Buffing benefits your car in the following ways:

  • Buffing removes ugly imperfections: Scratches and swirls on your car’s clear coat can be an eye-sore. Buffing removes these imperfections, restoring the paint’s pristine looks. Note that buffing only works on blemishes on the clear coat; scratches beyond the clear coat often need repainting to remedy.
  • Buffing prepares for paint protection: Protecting paint that contains imperfections is useless. Paint protection seals whatever is underneath, making it more visible. To experience all the benefits of paint protection, you need to correct the paint through a process like buffing. It ensures that the paint is worth protecting.
  • Buffing adds shine to the car: A freshly buffed vehicle looks shiny, as it’s free from imperfections. However, to maintain such looks, the paint needs protection.

Therefore, buffing removes imperfections, while waxing protects the paint from blemishes. The two complement each other as performing one without the other can prove futile.

Waxing and buffing are, therefore, totally worth it.

Is It Cheaper To Wax and Buff at Home?

The DIY wave has convinced some people that they don’t need professionals. With the right tools, time, and a YouTube tutorial, why pay a technician to wax and buff your car?

Buffing a car

It is cheaper to wax and buff at home, but it might prove costlier in the long run. Using a buffing machine and cutting compounds may lead to paint damage, forcing you to repaint your car.

Paint correction comes before paint protection so let me first highlight the dangers of buffing at home.

You need a buffer, a polishing pad, and a buffing compound. Buffing involves rubbing the compound on the car’s surface using a polishing pad rotated by the buffer.

To prevent taking off too much clear coat, you need to run the buffer at the correct RPMs and apply just enough pressure. Apply too much pressure on a buffer that’s spinning the pad too quickly and you’ll reduce the longevity of the clear coat.

Then you need to pick the correct buffing pad from a choice of microfiber, foam, or wool. These have sub-categories that vary in aggressiveness: aggressive pads remove defects faster but don’t produce the perfect finish; less aggressive pads cut slower but leave a better finish.

You need to be very measured if you choose an aggressive pad, as the chances of damaging paint are higher. But even if you opt for the less aggressive option, you still have to select the correct buffing compound.

It’s possible to overestimate the extent of damage on your car’s paint and go for an aggressive polishing compound.

Therefore, you may end up using more money repairing the damage caused than you would have saved paying a technician to buff your car.

The biggest risk associated with buffing at home is taking out too much clear coat. Without the requisite skill, you may take off more than necessary, exposing the vulnerable paint layers to damage.

You can avoid the mistake above by hand polishing, which is slow and tedious, or better yet, paying a technician to do it for you.

There’s little risk of paint damage when waxing, even when using an electric car buffer. However, improper application, especially of paste wax, can lead to the formation of streaks and swirls.

It may also take time for you to get used to an electrical buffer, leading to poor results. Therefore, it’s easier to just pay a professional to wax your car.


Waxing and buffing prices vary, with most detailers charging $55 to $150 for waxing and $50 to $300 for buffing.

The prices vary for various reasons, including the compounds used, the size and state of the vehicle, and the reputation of the technicians. Detailers with higher reputations tend to charge more.

It’s worth spending money on waxing and buffing, considering the benefits they offer your car.

First published on Sep 19, 2022 by

Additionally, while waxing and buffing at home may save you money, making an expensive mistake is easy. Therefore, it’s best to opt for a professional job.

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CarCareReport dot com first published this article on Sep 19, 2022..

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