A lot of times car enthusiasts are bombarded with ads featuring car care products that are very expensive. Usually these ads run on Home TV Shopping Networks featuring fancy scientific tests. These tests generally are exaggerated and sometimes even featuring waxes that can "resist" laser beams.
The point of this article is to discuss whether or not expensive car waxes that you see often see on TV are better than that can of paste our fathers have been using for the last 20 years.
Point 1: Law of Diminishing Returns
Waxes can generally be divided into price points. First we have the value waxes costing less than 10 dollars. Next are the "top of the line" consumer waxes hovering at around 20 dollars. Around the $50 dollar mark are waxes whose brand names are only familiar to those who detail their cars.
Waxes can cost well beyond 200 dollars. Generally speaking the most expensive waxes do not offer a linear scale of quality. In other words a 200 dollar tin can of high end wax will not give a gloss that is 20x better than one costing 7 dollars.
Concluding this point people will generally not notice any difference between a $20 USD wax and that $100 USD high end wax you have been saving for.
Point 2: "Boutique Waxes" Do Not Last Long
Expensive car waxes generally cater to people who prepare their cars for exhibitions. Once in a while a serious car restorer might apply his most expensive wax during special occasions like weddings or impressing dates.
Some detailers know for a fact that these "boutique waxes" will not hold its gloss and shine for long. In fact a lot of car waxes that offer the wettest look for your car's paint will attract dust like crazy. It is a common lament among novice detailers that as early as the third washing high end car waxes get stripped off.
Budget waxes on the other hand are designed more to protect than to reflect. So they do their job well and there are brands that do last for as much as 6 months. Half a year's protection for around 5 bucks is as good as it gets.
Point 3: More Expensive Harder to Apply
Generally speaking as a car wax gets progressively more expensive it gets harder to apply. There is one popular brand for example that needs to have 3 to 4 products layered on top of each other to produce the best results. This may take several hours to complete since you have to let the product sit for as long as an hour at times.
There are also product families which do not work well when they aren't applied with a bundle of other products. Step products are an example of this.
More expensive car wax products will be harder for a beginner to apply since getting the exact amount on the car's surface requires experience with each product. Some products when over applied can eat up on the car's clear coat and ruin your cars finish.
Cheaper products tend to be designed for everybody and are "idiot proof." This makes them somewhat safer than the obscure super expensive products.
Expensive car waxes have their place in detailing. But it does not necessarily mean that they are worth their price for most people. It may surprise you to know that even the cheapest waxes do protect your car. And if you are looking for the best shine and reflections from your car you might get the best result from that product you can get over at your local gas station instead of importing it from some European country.