There are many different types of waxes and sealants in the market. Here's a list of them so that you can make an informed decision on what you are getting:
Classic waxes are made from carnauba wax which adds a unique yellow glow and gloss to the vehicle. These waxes offer the slickest surface with a buttery finish to the vehicle. Many waxes have aromas that make waxing a vehicle quite an experience in itself. These waxes can be applied to your vehicle using foam applicators or even your own hands. Traditional versions of these have to be left on the vehicle to haze before removing the wax. However, with the advent of synthetic polymers and additives, most newer carnauba waxes can be removed right after application. High-quality carnauba wax can be pricy to apply and can be layered on top of coatings and sealants. Besides the gloss, classic high-quality carnauba waxes don't stain trim pieces if misapplied a bit and even if they stain, those stains are easier to remove.
Nowadays, you will not find traditional waxes in nearly all over-the-counter stores due to their higher cost and lower durability. You can expect a very high-quality carnauba wax to last 2 weeks to 6 months depending on how much and where you drive. You can expect them to cost anywhere from $60 to $600 depending on the quality and brand
Sealants have become very popular and have completely taken over the market. They are cheaper to produce, feel very slick, and offer more durability than pure carnauba wax. Additionally, they are easier to apply. The flip side is that they are difficult to remove and may stain on trim pieces if misapplied. If you see the word 'wax' on a product that you see at your store, more than likely it's a sealant marketed as wax. Similar to waxes, some of them may be needed to be left to haze before removing while others can be removed right after applying them on the surface.
Sealants can last from 1 month to a year depending on the type while costing anywhere from $10 to $50. They can come in different forms. Some may come in a buttery form which can be applied by a soft foam pad while others may come in a thick liquid bottle which is primarily applied using a non-abrasive soft foam buffer.
Spray waxes are usually sealants that exist in a spray form and are one of the latest technologies in car care and protection. Some of them have carnauba particles added to them which captures some of the warm glow of the carnauba products.
Spray waxes aren't as slick, glossy, or resilient as the aforementioned waxes and sealants. However, they are very easy to apply. You can usually get away with spraying them on the surface, wiping, and then gently buffing all in one step.
Spray waxes vary substantially in quality. They can last from 1 month to 1 year with diluted versions priced at $10 and high quality concentrated polymers priced at $40
Wash & Wax Detergents
These detergents have a tiny amount of polymers added to them that can rejuvenate existing waxed, sealed or coated cars but they don't offer significant protection, gloss, and slickness compared to dedicated waxes and sealants. These can be great for washing in between waxes. The detergents can come in rinseless or waterless forms. The rinseless versions can be great for weekly and bi-weekly washes for vehicles that are daily drivers. Waterless detergents are best used on sparsely driven vehicles.
Depending on the concentration of polymers and cleaning capacity, these products can cost anywhere from $40-90 per gallon for their concentrated versions.
These are the latest technology in car care along with graphene-based coatings. These are spray-based concentrated polymers that create a strong shell around the vehicle with exceptional durability, ease of application, and good slickness and gloss. This is currently what we use at Robust Auto Detailing for most of our packages alongside coatings.
These coatings can last anywhere from 6 months to a year while offering superior chemical resistance compared to waxes and sealants. They can be priced anywhere from $40 to $120.
All-in-one Polish & Wax
These products are usually found as thick liquids in bottles and have to be applied using a buffer. They have a polishing compound in them that has a very light cut that improves the gloss and slickness of the vehicle. The wax in them then seals the finish after the polishing. These products are usually a bit challenging to apply but easy to remove while having a very high chance of permanently staining your trim pieces due to their chemical nature and how easy they are to splatter using a buffer.
The durability of these products can be anywhere from 2 months to 5 months while being priced between $15-40 depending on the type and volume you get.
If you don't like waxing your vehicles, a high-quality and properly installed coating is an excellent solution for those who want to set it and forget it. They have a higher price point but it's a one-time investment on something that can last a very long time. Do you like to wax your car regularly? Let us know in the comment section below.