How to Wax a Car in Cold Weather

by Johnno CaryUpdated August 06, 2023
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Water drops on car image by Alexander Ivanov from

Items you will need

  • Outside area exposed to direct sunlight

  • Car wax

  • Sponge

  • Soft cloths

Waxing a car protects and repairs minor damages in the surface of the car’s paint. Since liquid wax is a sealant that wears away with time, it must be reapplied several times throughout the year for the most benefit. Car wax manufacturers recommend avoiding extreme temperatures or cold weather conditions when waxing your vehicle. If you must apply a coat of wax on your vehicle during the winter months, there are precautions you can take to ensure the best outcome.

Get a car wash. Ensure that your vehicle has been washed and thoroughly dried. Wax adheres better to a clean, dry surface that is free of debris and grime like road salt.

Wax your vehicle when the temperature is between 60 degrees and 80 degrees, when possible. Most waxes will still work at 50 degrees.

Move your car to a sunny area so that the surface of the vehicle is receiving sunlight. In cold temperatures, the sun will warm the painted surface, which will make the wax easier to apply.

Apply the wax using a sponge and soft, circular motions. Work in a small area at a time to make sure you get even coverage on all painted surfaces. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Allow the wax to become hazed on the surface of the paint. In cold conditions, the wax may take longer to dry than indicated on the bottle, so plan for additional drying time during the car detailing process. The optimum temperatures for applying a layer of wax would be below 80 and above 40 degrees fahrenheit. For the best car care, avoid direct sunlight during the drying process, regardless of how cold or hot it is.

Buffing the waxed area with a soft cloth will help to remove residue and add shine. This ensures a clear coat free of swirls, for the best car cleaning.


Do not wax your vehicle if humidity is high, in freezing temperatures or if there is precipitation.

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