How to Remove Wax Off a Car

by Editorial Team
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Removing baked-on wax from a car's finish can be challenging, but not always impossible.

Step 1

Before you begin, try to determine what type of finish is on your car. This can be accomplished by identifying the year, make and model. With this information in hand, contact a local Automotive paint supply store or dealership. They should be able to provide the information. Inspect your car carefully to determine if the paint is original or a "repaint." Carefully pull back rubber weatherstrips and inspect the paint. Also, look around the emblems and trim. Open the doors, hood and trunk. You are looking for overspray, peeling paint with paint underneath or areas that were taped or masked off. As a rule, the paint on cars and trucks from the 1960s or older is most likely lacquer, From the Late 1960s to early 70s, enamel, and from the early to mid 1980s to current, two-stage base coat and clear coat. Removal of wax techniques vary depending on which type of paint your car has.

Step 2

Some older cars will respond well to solvents, wax removers or other chemicals, but most vehicles will require that you remove a thin layer of paint with an abrasive. Rubbing compound or wet-sanding and buffing work well. Apply rubbing compound to a small area, and buff it off like wax. It will be difficult to work with and require lots of hard work, but this is the tried and true method. On older vehicles, you may notice some of the paint color on your rag. This is normal, as the compound is scuffing away microscopic amounts of your paint and anything on it. You can rent or buy a motorized buffing wheel to reduce the hard work, but beware -- you can burn right through the paint easily. Once all of the wax residue is gone, you should follow with a polishing compound, then at least two coats of wax. Liquid waxes with color in them work well and fill in minor imperfections. Clear-coat finishes are a layer of color with a clear top coat. If the clear-coat is damaged or worn through, it will likely be time for a new paint job.

Step 3

Paint finishes vary from year, make and model. If you are unsure, seek professional help. Some chemicals can be hazardous, follow directions and precautions. Always apply and remove waxes and compounds in a shaded area.

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