Should You Wax A New BMW?

New BMWs have a long journey from their production plant of origin to the BMW showrooms worldwide. Your new Beemer has likely spent as much as three months in the finished car parking lots or the bellies of the huge Roll-On-Roll-Off ships taking them to major ports of import around the globe.

BMW dealers are required to conduct a pre-delivery inspection and service, including a thorough car wash to get the car in showroom condition. New BMW owners should select a professional wash and wax as a dealer pre-delivery service option on all but cars with matte paint finish.

BMW protects their vehicles in transit with a protective cover to protect the factory paint job. These covers are removed when the cars are delivered to their designated BMW dealers to allow them to conduct a thorough inspection for transit damage or other signs of surface contamination.

Let’s discuss why you should give your new BMW a quality car wash and wax treatment before taking it to the roads.

Do BMW Factories Wax Their Cars After Production?

Cars are never as clean as when they come out of the BMW paint shop before the powertrain fitment and trim and assembly processes. The cars are all passed through a thorough visual inspection where the eagle-eyed quality assurance inspectors verify the paint job quality.

Once driven out of the production plant, the cars are taken to vehicle distribution centers, where they are prepared for shipment by road, rail, and ship to their intended country of destination. During this process, the cars are wrapped to protect the exterior from industrial fallout, acid rain, corrosive smog, and the biggest threat, bird poop.

Upon receiving the BMWs at the dealership, the receiving staff and driver of the vehicle transporter will inspect the vehicles for surface damage or contamination.

BMW dealer technicians will wash each new car, after a technical pre-delivery inspection (PDI), with a BMW specified soap and clean and dry the vehicle before taking it to the showroom or storage lot.

The BMW paint system used to protect the sheet metal from rust consists of the following components:

  • High-quality automotive steel or aluminum body panels;
  • Electro-galvanic coating to protect the metal panels from corrosion;
  • A water-based color coat in the desired color;
  • A clear coat layer to protect the color coat and provide luster.

If you want to read a detailed article on BMW rust issues (or lack thereof) check it out here!

Specialized colors and textured finishes may follow different finishing steps, and you should check before washing and waxing such vehicles for the BMW instructions on how to do this.

When inspected under a microscope, the factory finished paint job is not a smooth surface despite looking perfect to the human eye. The factory will apply some light polishing compounds to ensure that the paint finish looks perfect.

The clear coat layer is scratch-resistant and provides UV and ozone protection to the color coat underneath. When exposed to the elements, the clear coat layer must face the attack of acidic bird droppings and atmospheric pollution settling on the surface of the exterior.

Rain absorbs carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and sulfuric emissions from cars, trucks, factories, forest fires, and coal-fired power plants and converts these into acid rain. A good quality wax applied over the clear coat will ensure that water will not cling to the surface and will allow the dirt to be removed by water.

Recommendations for having a quality wax treatment applied to your BMW vary from a minimum of twice per year to as often as every three months.

How To Correctly Wash And Wax Your BMW

After the excitement of taking ownership of your new BMW has subsided to the point where your breathing and heart rate have normalized, treat your new Beemer to its first wash and wax.

Select a cool and shady spot and obtain the recommended car shampoo, soft wash mittens, microfiber cloths, and a good quality car wax. A soft and gentle hand-wash is what your BMW will need from you every month to maintain its maximum appeal.

If the water in your area contains a high dissolved mineral content, you should add some water softener to precipitate the minerals from the water.

Gently rinse any mud and dirt off the car using a garden hose or bucket with clean water. If you are using a pressure washer, make sure that the water jet is not set to a thin jet but rather a soft drizzle.

Rinse the soapy cloth or hand mitten often to avoid dirt on the cloth from scouring the paint’s surface. Rinse the soapy surface of the car with clean water and proceed with drying off all the water droplets from top to bottom.

Use clean microfiber towels to hand dry the car until all droplets and moisture have been removed. Apply a quality car wax in small squares on the painted surface and work the wax into the surface in an even layer using a clean microfiber cloth.

Wash microfiber towels and cloths separately from your household washing, and do not add any fabric softener to the wash cycle. Thoroughly dry them in the dryer and store them in a closed container for use at the next car wash.

What If There Is Damage To The Paint?

BMW Paint Scratch

The waxing and polishing step will allow you to inspect every inch of the BMW surface for any signs of stone chips or blemishes. After waxing the surface, it should feel smooth to the touch of your fingertips.

If you find paint damage, you should have it inspected by your BMW dealer as you do have a paint warranty, or at least the dealer can guide you to have the defects professionally corrected.

Do not attempt to treat surface defects yourself unless you have been trained to use a softly abrasive clay bar. Waxing your car will restore the paint luster and leave a thin layer of protection on top of the clear coat.

What Type of Car Wash Should I Use?

You don’t use dishwashing cleaner to wash your body or hair, and neither does your BMW deserve such treatment. Household detergents are harsh and could strip away the protective layers from your BMW paint job.

Use a quality car shampoo such as Meguiars and a soft fiber washcloth or hand wash mitten within a bucket of lukewarm water. Start at the driver-side door and wash the car clockwise from top to bottom.

There are absolutely tons of car wash soaps out. You really can’t go wrong with brands such as Meguiars, Nanolex, or Chemical Guys.

Personally, my favorite is Adam’s Car Wash Shampoo. It goes for a pretty good price, works great in a foam cannon, and smells really good.

What Type of Wax Should I Use?

Here are some of the top wax products to treat your BMW:

  • Griot’s Garage Best of Show
  • Collinite Double Coat
  • Chemical Guys Butter Wax
  • Meguiars Gold Class Carnauba Plus
  • Mothers Ultimate Hybrid Ceramic Wax
  • Chemical Guys JetSeal
  • Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Spray
  • Turtle Wax Hybrid Pro to the Max Wax

Wax treatments should be done at least twice per year, but if you live in an area with high airborne pollution levels or get coastal fog, you should have your BMW’s paint job waxed and polished every three months.

You can’t go wrong with any of the waxes I have listed above. My personal favorite wax brand is Meguiars. They have been around forever, the cost is fair, and the product is absurdly good. It didn’t make my fifteen year old BMW E46 paint job look brand new, but it definitely took quite a few years off of it.

Is Using An Automatic Car Wash A Good Idea?

I generally recommend that you stay away from automated car washes. Automated car washes are a good fast and dirty option to clean up a vehicle but they do have their downsides. Namely that they will (i) negatively impact your vehicle’s paint finish, especially if you take your BMW through one frequently, (ii) water spots are more common after automated car washes, and (iii) they typically miss spots.

It’s always best to have your BMW hand-washed, either by yourself, your kid, or a car wash technician (just make sure you tip well).


BMW puts a lot of care into their vehicles before they ever actually hit the road and this includes when it comes to your car’s paint job. However, because of the enormous amount of distance your new BMW may travel and the time that it may spend waiting for you to purchase it, you should request a professional wash and wax before you drive the vehicle off the lot.


Stephen Metellus

I am a BMW enthusiast and owner of! I have been repairing, flipping, and parting out BMWs for nearly ten years. I love these vehicles and I hope you will find my articles and YouTube channel helpful for whatever BMW project you have in store!

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