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Waxed vs. Unwaxed Car: 13 Important Differences

Car waxing is one of the most excellent ways to protect your car paint and keep it looking good for a long time. Waxing utilizes a blend of carnauba wax and other ingredients such as natural oils and beeswax to form a thin protective layer that safeguards your car paint from the elements, dirt, UV rays, and bird droppings.

Waxing a car

Waxed and unwaxed cars have a few important differences; a waxed car feels smooth and has a deep shine that enhances the paintwork. It’s noticeably different from an unwaxed car, since an unwaxed car’s exterior feels rough to the touch in comparison.

If you are debating whether or not to wax your car, this article will help you understand the 13 key differences between waxed and unwaxed cars.

Waxed vs. Unwaxed Car Differences

Waxing a car using cloth

Maintaining your car’s glossy, showroom-like finish takes more than a good wash and polish. While you may be diligent and meticulous about washing and drying your car, adding a coat of wax offers an extra layer of protection against the elements. Here are 13 key differences between waxed and unwaxed cars.

1. Appearance

One of the most prominent and striking differences between a waxed and unwaxed car is its appearance. A waxed car has a deep, glossy shine that makes the paintwork look vibrant. The color appears more intense and the paint looks healthier.

It protects the paint from UV rays, dirt, and dust build-up, which degrades the car’s finish, so it looks newer for longer. An unwaxed car has a duller finish that makes the paint look dry, faded, and less vibrant.

Over time, during routine maintenance such as washing and usage, the car’s paintwork interacts with the elements, UV rays, and water and begins to oxidize, making the color appear dull and chalky.

Applying a coat of wax creates a barrier against these elements and helps maintain the paint’s original color and luster, keeping it looking shiny and new for longer.

2. Touch

Gliding your hand over a waxed car is an incredibly satisfying experience. A waxed car has a smooth, sleek texture that feels amazing to the touch. The process of waxing fills in any tiny imperfections in the paintwork, so the surface feels smooth and even. This leaves a glass-like finish that feels amazing to the touch.

The wax also creates a protective barrier against the elements maintaining the smooth texture for longer. An unwaxed car has a rougher, rawer texture that doesn’t feel as nice to touch.

Since the paintwork is unprotected and exposed, it’s more susceptible to scratches and swirl marks. These imperfections make the surface feel rough and dull and are more likely to accumulate dirt and dust over time.

3. Paint Protection

Waxing your car provides an extra layer of protection against the elements, UV rays, bird droppings, dirt, and grime that can damage the paintwork. It creates a protective barrier that helps to repel stains, dirt, and debris, so the paint stays attractive and vibrant for longer.

An unwaxed car doesn’t have this extra layer of protection and is more vulnerable to staining, fading, and wear and tear. With everyday usage, an unwaxed car’s paintwork will begin to show signs of aging and damage much sooner than a waxed car.

A waxed car will preserve its glossy, showroom-like finish for longer and will be much easier to clean and maintain. Cruising in a waxed car will turn heads, whereas an unwaxed car might be overlooked.

4. Water Beading and Repellency

Nothing is as satisfying as seeing water beads roll off your car after a good wash. And while you may think that this is simply the result of a good shampoo and thorough rinse, it’s actually the wax responsible for water beading.

When you wax your car, the wax creates a hydrophobic barrier on the paint’s surface. This barrier causes water to bead up and roll off the surface instead of being absorbed into the paintwork, maintaining the integrity of the exterior.

As water seeps into the car’s paintwork, it reacts with the metal and causes rusting and corrosion. Waxing your car helps prevent this by creating a barrier that repels water and keeps it from seeping into the paint.

An unwaxed car leaves the paintwork vulnerable to water damage as the hydrophobic barrier is absent. This can result in water spots and streaks that significantly degrade the car’s appearance.

5. Washing and Cleaning

Washing a waxed car is a breeze and requires less effort than washing an unwaxed car. Since the wax creates a barrier against dirt and grime, it’s much easier to wash off any build-up that may have occurred.

Aside from this, a waxed car has a smooth surface that allows the water to flow off easily, so you don’t have to scrub as hard. All you need is a good quality shampoo and some elbow grease, and your car will be sparkling clean in no time.

Since dirt and grime tend to stick to the surface of an unwaxed car, it requires more effort to wash it clean. The rough surface makes it more difficult for the water to flow off, so you have to scrub harder to remove all the dirt – which in turn could contribute to paint chipping.

This can be quite a tedious and time-consuming task, especially if your car is particularly dirty. An unwaxed car is more likely to suffer from water spots and streaks since the hydrophobic barrier is absent.

6. UV Protection

The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can wreak havoc on your car’s paintwork, causing it to fade and lose its luster. UV rays break down the molecules in the paint, causing it to become brittle and dry.

Applying a coat of wax provides an extra layer of protection against the sun’s harmful rays. The wax creates a barrier that reflects the UV rays away from the paint, preventing them from causing any damage.

Since an unwaxed car doesn’t have this extra layer of protection, it’s more susceptible to fading and other types of damage caused by the sun. The result is a dull, faded paint job that significantly deteriorates the car’s appearance.

7. Bug Splatters

Bugs are inevitable when driving on the highway, but that doesn’t mean they have to ruin your car’s paintwork. A bug’s splatter is acidic and can eat away at the paint, causing permanent damage.

Topping off your car with a layer of wax provides protection against these pesky critters. The wax creates a barrier between the paint and the bug splatter, preventing it from coming into contact with the paint. This helps preserve the car’s paint job and keeps it looking as good as new.

With the lack of a protective layer on an unwaxed car, the paint is directly exposed to bug splatters. This can cause irreparable damage to the paint, leaving permanent etches and stains.

8. Scratches and Swirl Marks

Scratches, swirl marks, and other imperfections are inevitable with any car. With daily driving, your vehicle will inevitably suffer minor damage, maybe from a wayward rock, a fallen branch, or even a careless door ding in a parking lot.

A good coat of wax can help minimize the appearance of these imperfections and blemishes by filling in the scratches and swirl marks. The wax creates a smooth, even surface that reflects light evenly, helping to camouflage any minor damage.

An unwaxed car doesn’t have this luxury, and imperfections are more noticeable since there’s nothing to fill them in. This can drastically degrade the car’s appearance, making it look old and worn out.

9. Salt Damage

If you live in an area that experiences a lot of snowfall or near the coastal region, you know how damaging salt can be to your car. The salty water can cause the paint to corrode and deteriorate, leading to rusting and other types of damage.

A waxed car has an extra protective layer that helps to shield the paint from harsh saltwater. This prevents the paint from coming into direct contact with the salt, which can cause it to corrode.

Unwaxed cars don’t have this extra layer of protection, leaving the paint vulnerable to salt damage. Over time, the paint will start to show signs of wear and tear, eventually leading to rusting and other issues.

10. Rust and Corrosion

Another striking difference between a waxed and unwaxed car is the level of protection against rust and corrosion. An unwaxed car is more susceptible to rusting since the paint isn’t protected from the elements.

The paint can easily chip and flake off, exposing the metal beneath it to moisture and air. This creates the perfect environment for rusting and corrosion to occur. A waxed car has an extra layer of protection against these elements, helping to prevent rust and corrosion from occurring.

The wax forms a barrier that blocks moisture and air from reaching the metal, keeping it safe from rusting and corrosion. With a glossy and smooth finish, water falls right off the surface, further preventing any rust or corrosion from taking hold.

11. Dirt, Grime, and Road Tar

Have you ever noticed how dirt, grime, and road tar seem to stick to your car like glue? This is because the paint on an unwaxed car provides the perfect surface for these elements to adhere to.

These imperfections provide a perfect place for dirt and grime to collect. Over time, these elements will start to build up, making your car look dirty and unkempt.

A waxed car has a slick surface that makes it much harder for dirt, grime, and road tar to stick. The wax creates a smooth, glossy surface that repels dirt, grime, and road tar, making it difficult for these elements to penetrate the surface.

12. Maintenance

Generally, maintaining a waxed car is easier than an unwaxed car. Since the paint is protected from the elements, less work needs to be done to keep it looking good. A simple wash and wax are all you need to keep the car looking shiny and new. With a waxed vehicle, you don’t have to spend so much money on car detailing and cleaning – so you’ll even save money in the long run.

An unwaxed car requires a little more work to maintain. The paint is more susceptible to damage from the elements, so it needs regular cleaning. The build-up of dirt and grime can also be more difficult to remove, requiring more scrubbing and elbow grease.

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An unwaxed car is more susceptible to rusting and corrosion, so you’ll need to monitor it more closely to prevent any damage from occurring. In the long run, a waxed car is easier to maintain and will require less work to keep it looking its best.

13. Resale Value

When the time comes to sell your car, you’ll want to get the best price possible. Unfortunately, an unwaxed car won’t fetch as high a price as a waxed car. It doesn’t have the same shine and luster as a waxed car with all the scratches, swirls, and paint damage. Even if it’s not too damaged, it won’t look as good as a waxed car and might put potential buyers off.

The paint is also more susceptible to damage from the elements, which can devalue the car. A waxed car has a higher resale value since it’s in better condition than an unwaxed car.

The wax protects the paintwork from the elements, maintaining its glossy, showroom-ready finish that makes it more attractive to buyers, which can help you get top dollar for your car.

Final Thoughts

Waxing your car is essential in maintaining its appearance and protecting the paintwork. A waxed car has a glossy, smooth finish that repels dirt, grime, and road tar. It’s more resistant to rusting and corrosion, keeping the paintwork looking new for longer. Waxed cars are also easier to maintain and have a higher resale value.

First published on Sep 22, 2022 by CarCareReport.com.

Unwaxed cars are more susceptible to the elements, UV rays, dirt, grime, and road tar. When these elements settle on your car’s paintwork, they react with the oxygen in the air to cause oxidation.

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CarCareReport dot com first published this article on Sep 22, 2022..

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