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Should I Wax My Car Before or After Touching It Up?

Should I Wax My Car Before or After Touching It Up?

Any time you tackle a paint job on your car, you want to make sure you’re doing it right. Every step is crucial, including washing and waxing. Following the correct steps in touching up your car can mean the difference in a like-new finish and a ruined repair that needs to be fixed.

When it comes to waxing, should you wax your car before or after touching it up? In short, you should wax your car after you make touch up repairs to the paint. Below, we’ll expound on why you should wait and the best practices to ensure your touch up paint job stays looking great.

Why Should I Wax My Car After Applying Touch Up Paint?

We’ve already established that you should wait to wax your car until after you’ve completed your touch up paint work. Once you notice your car’s paint needs TLC, you want to make those touch ups as soon as you can. Using a proven touch up paint does more than simply repair cosmetic damages to your car; it protects your vehicle from rust.

When your car has a scratch or ding, there’s a significant chance that your car’s metal body is exposed. And if that’s the case, the iron in your car has likely already begun to oxidize. This exposure, if left untreated, will lead to rust. And once your car begins to rust, you must take proactive steps to stop it, or your car could incur serious damage.

When you wax your car before touching it up, you’re likely to scratch your car with flaking paint fragments or scrub away at trouble spots, making them bigger. Thankfully, touching up those problem spots as soon as you see them prevents this kind of damage and stops rust in its tracks.

By waiting to wax your car after you’ve applied touch up paint, you’re adding a protective barrier to your vehicle that wax cannot. You will save yourself time, money, and sweat if you wait to wax your car until you’ve finished all touch up repairs.

The Importance of Waxing a Car

How often do you wax your car? If you can’t remember the last time you buffed out a shine on your car, it’s time to change your ways. Regularly waxing your vehicle is an essential component of car maintenance.

Waxing keeps a beautiful shine on your car; we all can see that. But did you know wax protects your car’s clear coat? The clear coat serves as a barrier between your car’s paint and anything that might damage it. Clear coats keep out moisture, protect against sun damage, and take the brunt of dirt, grime, and other corrosive materials. Clear coats protect your paint, so you want to do everything you can to protect your clear coat.

That’s where waxing comes in. Regular waxing is your best defense against clear coat damage. When trying to determine your ideal waxing interval, there’s no one-size-fits-all timeline. Depending on where you live, your driving patterns, and even where you store your car, you can create your waxing schedule. Some car owners wax once or twice a year. Others buff out their clear coat every two months.  

How Long Should I Wait to Wax My Car After Touch Up Repairs?

We’ve determined that waxing should come after you’ve completed all your car’s touch ups. But how long should you wait after the touch up paint dries before you wax your car?

We recommend waiting at least 48 hours, but a week is the better option if you can wait that long. Depending on the size of the repaired area, your vehicle’s touch up paint will need a longer time to cure.

For example, if you touch up smaller spots on your car, like a small nick in a door panel, the paint will dry in 24 hours or so. However, if you’re touching up a larger area or a single spot larger than a quarter of an inch in diameter, you want to provide ample time for the touch up paint to fully cure.

Giving the paint a week to dry before waxing ensures it won’t flake off when you buff the wax out. Using an electric buffer or even hard hand waxing can cause fresh touch up paint to pull away if it hasn’t had time to set. If you only have a few days and can’t wait a full week before waxing, that works too.

What Kind of Car Wax Should I Use?

You have a few options when choosing car wax. Each of the following waxes has different characteristics and reapplication periods. Below we’ll explain the nuances of each car wax as well as the interval you should follow when waxing your car.

  1. Liquid Wax

Liquid wax provides a smooth, easy application and doesn’t require frequent reapplication. For these reasons, it’s a popular choice among many drivers. Liquid wax is perfect for anyone looking for a quick, clean shine.

  1. Liquid Polymer

The application process for liquid polymers is nearly identical as that of liquid wax. The significant difference between the two products is that liquid polymer is manmade, while waxes are natural products. Liquid polymers were designed to outlast natural waxes, but there is a cost: polymers don’t yield the same intense shine or deep, bold colors that natural waxes do.

  1. Paste Wax

Paste wax is the go-to car wax for many car owners. It’s the oldest and most traditional wax, making it a popular choice. Unlike the other waxes in this list, paste wax is thick, and application requires time and elbow grease. In the end, it’s worth it. Paste wax yields an incredible shine that makes any car stunning. If you choose paste wax, plan to reapply every few weeks.

  1. Spray Detailer or Spray Wax

This final option is ideal for drivers who want a gorgeous shine without spending hours buffing out wax. Spray detailer offers a stunning shine in just a few minutes. Simply spray the detailer on your car, then wipe away with a microfiber cloth. Many spray detailers work on glass too, so you can finish your entire car with one product.


We know that as a car owner, you want your vehicle to look great. And sometimes, that means touching up paint chips yourself. When you’ve got touch ups to do, always take care of those repairs before waxing your car. You’ll protect your car’s body with the touch up paint, and then the wax will have your entire vehicle looking like new! 

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