What Happens If Wax is Left on The Car For Too Long?

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Waxing a car is a pretty simple process: apply wax, wait for it to haze, and buff out. But what if you wait too long for the wax to haze? I’ll explain that in the post and show you how you can fix it and also how to prevent that from happening.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you leave wax for too long before buffing it out, the wax will dry out. If that happens, you’ll have to remove freshly applied wax and re-wax the car.
  • Car wax should be buffed as soon as it hazes. No need to wait any longer.
  • To prevent wax from drying on the car’s paint, it’s best to wax a car panel by panel.
  • Under normal conditions, waxes usually take anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes to haze.

If Left For Too Long – Wax Will Dry

guy waxing a car

Wax should only sit on the vehicle by the time it hazes. Anything longer than that will cause the wax to dry, making it impossible to buff out, and it may even be challenging to remove once it dries.

If it happens, you’ll have to invest some extra work to get the wax completely removed from the clear coat. It’ll indeed require some elbow grease if removed using a microfiber towel. However, If you have a dual-action polisher, it’ll be quicker and require less effort. 

Letting the car wax dry entirely on the car’s paint will also lead you to more expenses. After removing that dried wax, you’ll also have to re-apply a new coat of wax, which takes time and money. 

Related: How To Remove Wax From a Car

How To Prevent Wax From Drying On Your Vehicle

waxing a car

Here are some tips I want to share to prevent wax from drying on your vehicle. Even though they’re all well-known in the auto detailing world, I’d like to repeat them for you so I’m sure you understand this topic thoroughly. 

Follow The Instructions On The Bottle

Before applying any car wax to your vehicle, you should always read and follow the instructions on the bottle/package. Even though they’re mostly the same, some car waxes may have some differences in application. 

In general, here are the instructions you should follow:

  • Thoroughly wash and dry your vehicle.
  • If needed, clay and polish it.
  • Don’t work in direct sunlight or at freezing temperatures.
  • Apply car wax in one section.
  • Wait for the wax to haze.
  • Buff the wax off with a clean microfiber towel.

Again, don’t forget to read the instructions on your car wax package, just in case there are some differences in application. 

Don’t Wax The Whole Car at Once

One of the biggest mistakes people make is waxing the whole car at once. It’s a mission impossible, especially if you’re a beginner working on a hot day. 

Car wax will dry too much, and you won’t be able to buff it quickly enough to prevent “overdrying.” 

I like to work in sections, something like this:

  • The front side of the car
  • Roof
  • The left side of the car
  • The right side of the car
  • The rear side of the car

That way, I can buff the hazed car wax at just the right time so the job is done correctly. 

Buff It As Soon As It Hazes

Some people make problems where there are none, and it’s about picking the right time to buff the wax off. You should buff the car wax as soon as it hazes. 

The easiest way to determine if car wax is ready for buffing is by sliding your finger on the paint (a.k.a. swipe test) where you applied the wax. If your fingers pick up the wax and there’s no residue on the color, the wax is ready to buff.

If there’s still some wax on the paint after sliding your finger, the wax needs some more time to haze. 

Spray vs. Paste vs. Liquid Wax

Car waxes come in various guises – spray, paste, and liquid. There are some differences in how hard they are to apply and how fast they haze and dry. 

  • Spray wax is usually the easiest and quickest car wax type to apply. There’s no need to wait; just spray the car and buff it off immediately. Some spray waxes can be applied even if the vehicle is still wet. However, spray waxes don’t last long, and they’ll need more frequent re-applications. Also, they won’t provide the car’s clear coat with as much protection as a paste or liquid waxes will do. 
  • Paste wax offers your car the most significant amount of protection. However, it’s the most complex wax type to apply. When applying paste waxes, you should be very careful and buff them as soon as they are hazed since they’re the hardest to remove if applied incorrectly. 
  • Liquid wax is somewhere between paste and spray waxes when it comes to ease of application. It’s pretty straightforward to apply them, and they won’t dry out too quickly, as could happen with paste waxes. 

In my opinion, if you want the best results, you should use either paste or liquid waxes. I don’t particularly appreciate using spray waxes so much, but they’re a great option if you’re in a rush or don’t know how to apply paste or liquid waxes.

Related: Spray vs Liquid vs Paste Wax

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