Does Paying For The Wax Option When You Are Using a Drive Through Car Wash Do Much For Your Car's Finish?

Does Paying For The Wax Option When You Are Using a Drive Through Car Wash Do Much For Your Car's Finish?

Did you ever wonder if it was worth paying for the “wax” or “clear coat protection” options at the drive through car wash? Are they just gimmicks designed to squeeze more money out you?

In this article, I’ll try to clear out the issue and help you decide whether or not to choose the option when presented with it next time.

drive through car wash.jpg

First of all, let’s discuss a little about the purpose of car wax.

Traditional car wax was created initially as means to protect a car’s paint against oxidation and fading.

Up until around 1980s, cars were simply sprayed the color paint layer, without any additional protection.

Sometime after 1980s, car manufacturers started spraying a clear coat on top of the color paint coat, with the double purpose of protecting the paint layer underneath against direct exposure to the elements, and give the car a shiny appearance.

paint layers on a car.jpg

Now, this clear coat can still oxidize, and become dull over time, but nowhere the extent to which the colour coat used to do it.

Which means that the reason for which car wax was initially created becomes a non-issue. (Or does it?)

Moving on…

Traditional car wax also comes in 2 major varieties:

  • Carnauba-based wax, with the sole purpose of protection (see below)

carnauba based wax.jpg

  • Cleaner-wax, which contains minor abrasives or other chemical component, with the dual purpose of polishing and protecting (see below).

cleaner wax.jpg

The cleaner-wax kind was initially created so that it would also revive the colour in faded paint, on top of protecting it.

And then there’s a 3rd type, which is the one I’ve been personally using for the last 10 years or so, which is the synthetic type of wax (see below).

optimum car wax.jpg

This is by far the easiest one to use. All it takes is a couple of sprays onto a panel at a time, followed by a quick buff with a microfiber towel.

The “wax” option at the drive-through car wash is a spray-on product, with hydrophobic and gloss-enhancing properties.

Hydrophobic means it will repel water, and make the finish of your car slicker to the touch. The added benefit of that is that the car stays cleaner for a little longer than usual, because dirt doesn’t stick to the paint as well.

Gloss-enhancing means that the finish of your car will look shinier than without the “wax” option.

Now, because the drive-through car wash business is cost-driven, and their profits are very slim, the “wax” product used is most of the times low quality. Which means is very short lived, from only one day to about a week, at the most.

Knowing that, only you can decide, based on your own personal financial situation, if it’s worth paying the extra dollars for this option (and spoil yourself a little).

Or if just a simple clean will do.