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  1. #1
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    Too cold to wax a car?

    In the "old" days, I was taught that waxing a vehicle when the temperature of the vehicle was below 60 degrees Fahrenheit was an effort of futility. If I recall correctly, this had to do with the bonding of the wax to the vehicle; it was too cool to allow "set" time of the wax. Anyway, that was back in the Richard Nixon presidential era; the prime years of classic rock... But alas, I digress...

    Today, with all of the new paste, liquid, and spray waxes, I wonder of this still holds true?
    When is it too cold to wax by paste? By Liquid? By spray? How long does that "magic" temperature need to persist to allow the wax to bond correctly?

    I don't mind hearing from people saying that I've waxed at this temperature and it worked fine for me. I'd prefer to hear from someone (or people) that are familiar with the "science", "physics", "thermal dynamics", or whatever the proper phrasing may be to describe the wax properties and suitable environments for the best application.

    I live in southern New Jersey, and unfortunately wasn't able to properly "winterize" the appearance protection of one or two of my vehicles. One of them is demonstrating the total lack of protection on it's horizontal surfaces, and I don't want it to wait until April to "fix" it. I do not have access to a heated or temperature-controlled work area.

    Alternatively, are there waxes out there (today) that are meant to be applied in colder temperatures and provide 3 or 4 months of protection?

    I can certainly understand that 65 is better than 55, which is better than 45, which is better than 35. One of these vehicles is a black Yukon XL Denali. This takes a while to do, and if I'm wasting my time and money on products that won't work if applied now, it would be good to know that.

    Besides building a heated garage (not in the budget this year), what can I do?

  2. #2

    Re: Too cold for wax?

    That's a very good question,I can not offer you the scientific reasons why it should or shouldn't work , I would try a wax(preferably liquid carnuba) on a small area applying it very thinly and then see if it will dry to a haze,wipe my finger on it to see if it comes off ,if it does then it's alright to wax the whole car.
    A sealant on the other hand is a different story since its dependant on the temperature/humidity to cure,I would guess in a cold and dry weather it would take longer.
    A liquid wax such as Colonite 845 would be a wise choice.
    What I did this winter (Toronto ,Canada,very very cold)I waited until I had a couple of above normal temperature days to do my winter paint preparation,used Duragloss 105 and 36 hours after toped it with Colinite 845 and so far so good.

  3. #3
    Senior Member budman3's Avatar
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    Re: Too cold for wax?

    Do you have a garage to work in or will all of this be done outside? Plugging in a few halogen lights is a great way to heat up paint. Also letting the vehicle run with the heater on inside, enough to warm the roof, windows and maybe door panels, including the engine heat for the hood...

    As for the technical and scientific side, you've got me .

    I have found that spray waxes don't fair too well in the colder weather. Evaporation is a key point to these waxes and it just doesn't work well in the cold. Even a MF towel doesn't absorb the spray wax like it normally would. Paste and liquid waxes should be fine though. They may take a tad longer to bond but they still should. I don't see any reason that you won't get any protection from applying in the cold so you should be good to go. A lot of people use a spit shine method to apply paste waxes. Sometimes the "spit" is actually iced or cooled water-- so I don't think a cold surface is going to be that detrimental.

  4. #4
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    Re: Too cold for wax?

    Quote Originally Posted by budman3 View Post
    Do you have a garage to work in or will all of this be done outside? Plugging in a few halogen lights is a great way to heat up paint. Also letting the vehicle run with the heater on inside, enough to warm the roof, windows and maybe door panels, including the engine heat for the hood...

    As for the technical and scientific side, you've got me .

    I have found that spray waxes don't fair too well in the colder weather. Evaporation is a key point to these waxes and it just doesn't work well in the cold. Even a MF towel doesn't absorb the spray wax like it normally would. Paste and liquid waxes should be fine though. They may take a tad longer to bond but they still should. I don't see any reason that you won't get any protection from applying in the cold so you should be good to go. A lot of people use a spit shine method to apply paste waxes. Sometimes the "spit" is actually iced or cooled water-- so I don't think a cold surface is going to be that detrimental.
    By spray waxes do you mean the standard carnuaba derived (eg LSS) AND the synthetic (eg DG AquaWax) or generally speaking the carnuaba type?

  5. #5
    Senior Member budman3's Avatar
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    Re: Too cold for wax?

    I haven't tried using AquaWax in the cold yet but I have had difficulties with Optimum OCW and various QDs in the cold weather. When I go to remove with a MF towel, the product just spreads around on the paint. I assume the same would be true with AW. And my experiences were in the 35-40 degree range, I believe. If you have to use a similar product in the cold, do not use a lot, and have a few extra towels on hand.

  6. #6
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    Re: Too cold for wax?

    Quote Originally Posted by budman3 View Post
    I haven't tried using AquaWax in the cold yet but I have had difficulties with Optimum OCW and various QDs in the cold weather. When I go to remove with a MF towel, the product just spreads around on the paint. I assume the same would be true with AW. And my experiences were in the 35-40 degree range, I believe. If you have to use a similar product in the cold, do not use a lot, and have a few extra towels on hand.
    I know what you mean with the QD's. I've had the same experiences with those and even Optimum NRW mixed for QD. I have used AquaWax in the cold (~40*F) with little problem, though I can't say for sure it was effective. It is being used as a maintenance wax on top of Klasse AIO, HGSG, & XMT180. . . but the bead and the shine are still there.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator killrwheels@autogeek's Avatar
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    Re: Too cold for wax?

    most paste waxes heat up naturally in hand while moving the applicator around in a circle. Removal of cold wax should not present to much of a problem, although frigid cold and ice would not be a great idea.

  8. #8
    Senior Member supercharged's Avatar
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    Re: Too cold for wax?

    I wouldn't wax below frezing point...32 degress F (0 degrees C).
    2007 Infiniti G35 dark grey (daily driver)
    2009 BMW E70 X5 4.8i jet black (garage queen)
    2013 BMW F25 X3 2.8 jet black (wife's car)

  9. #9
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    Re: Too cold for wax?

    Quote Originally Posted by killrwheels@autogeek View Post
    most paste waxes heat up naturally in hand while moving the applicator around in a circle. Removal of cold wax should not present to much of a problem, although frigid cold and ice would not be a great idea.
    I have no doubt that the wax can be "warmed"; I have doubts that the underlying body panel can be suitably warmed by the application of the wax to allow for a proper bond. If the body panel is 40 degrees, and the wax is 70 degrees "out of the jar", the set time of the wax will be much less than if the temperatures were more closely matched at a warmer temperature (like 65 or 70 degrees). I'm guessing that because the wax has little or no mass, the temperature of the body panel is the defining factor to the effectiveness of the wax. So in this case, the body panel will cool that wax pretty fast, if not nearly instantaneously.

    This is the kind of "theorizing" that I'm trying to validate or invalidate; I am unaware of an effective way to gauge the effectiveness of the wax on a vehicle beyond appearance (shine, depth of shine) and it's protective qualities (beading affect, etc.).

    And thanks to everyone for their input!

  10. #10
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    Re: Too cold for wax?

    This is the kind of "theorizing" that I'm trying to validate or invalidate; I am unaware of an effective way to gauge the effectiveness of the wax on a vehicle beyond appearance (shine, depth of shine) and it's protective qualities (beading affect, etc.).
    Maybe that's the question to ask then. . .How you can you measure the effective protection of a wax to ensure proper application?

    I have another follow-up question: You said its a black truck, so can you apply wax in the sun if it's really cold out? I've always assumed the no-wax in sun rule was for temperature consistency, but in this case we'd want the extra heat, right? Of course, what do you do with a wax like XMT180 that can be applied in sun or shade. . .

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