Tips and Tricks on How to Wax a Black Car

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How to Wax a Black Car

Vehicle Care Basics – Waxing a Black Vehicle

Mike here with ScannerAnswers and today we’re going over the proper way to wax your dark-colored vehicle to restore that awesome gloss and shine it once had.

You see, the biggest problem with black cars is you can’t just slap on some wax and expect magic. Newer cars with black paint might benefit more from the simple act of waxing, but older black cars will need more than just a wash and wax.

Today, I’m gonna reveal all the tips and tricks on how to wax a black car so you can achieve professional results in the comforts of your own garage.

It goes like this: wash -> claybar -> polish -> wax

old black vintage car headlights


Step 1 – How to Properly Wash a Black Car

Before we get to the actual waxing part, the first thing you need to learn is the right way to wash your vehicle. Black cars will require frequent washing to preserve the look and gloss of the paint. While dark colored paint is less susceptible to stains and discoloration, black paint is prone to have ugly swirl marks on the finish.

Did you know that swirl marks are caused by incorrect cleaning methods? If you master the art of washing your black car, you can prevent the accumulation of swirl marks in the paint.

car truck wash
Check out Mark’s Flickr for more cool pics
  • Rinse your vehicle from top to bottom using a garden hose and clean water. This will remove excess dust and dirt on the surface that might scratch the finish when you shampoo the car.
  • Remove stubborn dirt and mud on the paint before applying shampoo.
  • Always wash your car using the top-to-bottom technique. Wash the topmost parts of the vehicle and work your way downwards. Start with the trunk, hood, and the roof before cleaning the fenders and the doors. It’s a known fact that the lower parts of your vehicle are the dirtiest since they are closer to the road.
  • Never use dish soap to wash your vehicle. Always settle for a high-quality car shampoo like the Meguiar’s Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo or Mother’s California Gold Car Wash. You should also invest in a quality set of microfiber towels and wash mitts to prevent inflicting swirl marks on the paint.
  • After washing and drying the paint, take a couple of minutes to inspect the condition of the finish. Run your dry hand over the hood of your vehicle. If the surface feels smooth, there is no need to apply wax. On the other hand, if the surface is a bit rough to the touch, you should apply wax to protect and beautify the finish.
  • If there are deep scratches, swirl marks, asphalt stains, and dull surfaces you should consider polishing the paint before applying wax.
  • Make it a habit to wash your car at least once a week or once every two weeks.

If you’re a visual learner, AutoVlog did a pretty good video on washing a black car with a power washer and foam cannon.


Step 2 – How to Polish a Black Car

At this point, you should consider “Clay Barring” your car. You do not have to use a clay bar before the polish, but it’s helpful to achieve a mirror-like look.

In this step we’re going to polish the car. If the paint looks dull and lifeless after washing your car, polish will help shine it up!

I prefer using a pure polish like the Nu Finish Liquid Car Polish or the Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish to effectively remove swirl marks and contaminants from the surface prior to waxing.

Unlike pure waxes, polish contains micro-abrasives that remove ultra-thin layers of clear coat to eliminate swirl marks and light scratches while providing a smooth and even shine.

  • Start with a clean and dry finish. Apply a thin coat of polish on a clean applicator pad and work the product into the paint. Similar to washing a car, you should first polish the top portions of the car and work your way downwards.
  • Always read the directions on the bottle. Some products will need to dry for a couple of minutes before buffing out the residue, while other polishes can be buffed instantly upon application.
  • Use a separate set of clean microfiber towels to buff the finish. The goal here is to avoid cross-contamination of dirt and grit. I would have a separate set of microfiber towels for washing, polishing, and waxing my car. This will allow you to achieve the best possible results without adding more scratches or swirls in the paint.
  • If there are hard-to-remove stains in the paint, try using a clay bar to remove the contaminants prior to polishing.
  • Polish your black car every 3 to 6 months.


Step 3 – How to Wax a Black Car

After washing and polishing (and maybe clay bar’ing), it is now time to wax your black car. I like using carnauba-based waxes since they provide the deepest and glossiest shine while maintaining a decent level of all-weather protection.

If you have a new car, you can skip the polishing process and go straight to waxing the finish after washing.

I like using the best waxes for black cars…  like the Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid Wax or the P21S Carnauba Wax. Both products are easy to apply and are formulated to bring out the best possible shine while protecting your black paint from harmful road and weather contaminants.

First: Apply the wax on the paint.

car wax on hood
Time to wax that ride! Image credits to Christopher

Grab a clean applicator pad and apply a small amount of wax. Work the product in the paint using even coverage. It is always best to wax the top parts of your car first before waxing the doors and the bumpers. Start by waxing the hood, the roof, and the trunk.

More is not necessarily better. It is best to apply multiple thin coats than a single heavy coat of wax.

Second: Allow the wax to dry.

Allow the wax to dry for a couple of minutes before removing the excess. The easiest way to figure out if the wax is dry is to perform a swipe test. Wipe your clean index finger over the waxed surface and check for smearing. If the wax smears, leave it to dry for a couple more minutes.

It is important to remember that the two biggest mistakes in waxing a black car are to apply an excessively thick coat of wax and NOT allowing the wax to dry sufficiently prior to buffing.

Third: Remove the wax.

Use a separate clean microfiber towel to remove the wax from the paint. Start from the top and work your way to the bottom to avoid scratching the most visible parts of your vehicle. After removing the wax, it is best to grab another clean microfiber towel to buff the paint lightly.

You can also use an orbital buffer to apply or remove the wax from your black paint.

In order to preserve the look of your black paint, you should wax the finish at least once a month or every other month. Since pure wax is non-abrasive, you can even wax your black car once a week in order to maintain that much-coveted showroom shine.


Unlike other colors like white or silver, black paint requires more than just a simple wash and wax. Frequent waxing and occasional polishing will not only maintain the look and shine of your black paint, but it will also help to preserve the resale value of your ride.


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