Consumer Reports: Car wax to the max

Just like your teeth need regular cleaning, your car requires maintenance with a wash and polish. That's especially true as the summer ends and many parts of the country prepare for fall and winter weather. Consumer Reports car experts say it's the perfect time to protect your car's finish.

Consumer Reports suggests you hand-wax your car every season. Doing this on a regular basis helps protect the paint from scratches, tree sap, and bird droppings.

First things first: Before you apply the wax, Consumer Reports says you should wash your car and dry it to get rid of any watermarks. Then apply a coat of wax to a cool surface. Don't work in direct sunlight, because heat can make the wax clump and spread unevenly. Consumer Reports recommends you apply the wax in a circular motion, then let it dry and remove it with a microfiber cloth, also in a circular motion.

Want to keep your car shining for as long as possible? If you plan to go to a drive-through car wash, make sure you opt for brushless service, because the brushes in an automatic wash can actually strip off some of your wax job!

Maybe you're tempted to skip using all that elbow grease and opt for a spray-on wax treatment at the car wash. Not so fast! Those spray-on treatments give more of a cosmetic gloss, while hand-waxing puts on a protective coat that can last for months.

Consumer Reports says that even the best car waxes it has tested will last only a few months, so it's best to plan on hand-waxing your car three to four times a year.
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