Consumer Reports: Best car waxes

September 2, 2011 2:20:14 PM PDT
Want that shiny new car look? Car waxes promise to protect your car's finish and even revive a dull paint job. But how well do they hold up? Consumer Reports' super tough tests deliver the answer.

The cars at this body shop get buffed, polished, and shined, then drive away sparkly, like new.

Can you get the same results at home? Consumer Reports put 19 car waxes through some tough tests to find out.

Included in the tests, liquids and pastes from companies like Nu Finish and Turtle Wax to higher-end ones from Zymol and Auto Glym.

"We rated the waxes on several factors. Among them, how well each wax improved the shine of a painted surface and how long it protected the paint's finish," said Rik Paul, Consumer Reports.

To assess how long a wax protects, testers applied the waxes to these pre-weathered panels and left them outside, exposed to the elements.

Using this machine, testers inspected the panels weekly. With a good wax, the water beads up like this. With this one, the bead is flatter, which means the wax is wearing off.

Testers then move to real cars to see how easy the waxes are to use. Some were tough to remove.

"You want to pick a wax based on your car's condition and how often you wax the car," Paul said.

If your car lacks that new-car luster, Consumer Reports says try Meguiars Next Generation Tech Wax 2.0. It's pricier, $18.50 a bottle, but was one of the best waxes for restoring shine.

If your car's in decent condition, testers recommend Nu Finish NFP-80 paste wax for eight dollars a container.

Consumer Reports says when removing the wax, make sure to use a microfiber cloth. It makes the job easier and a lot less residue is left behind.