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The Best Car Polishes On The Market – Reviews and Buying Guide

Saw those swirls, scratches, and oxidation on the surface of your car? Want to bring back the velvety feeling of the paint and the showroom gloss?

Proper car polishing is the only way to get rid of the swirls, abrasions, matte look, dirt, grease, and all “above the surface” contaminants which cannot be removed by a normal car wash.

Before and after polishing

That is what we achieved while testing the 19 top quality polishes from the most reputable manufacturers like CarGuys, Meguiar’s, Chemical Guys, and Autoglym. Along with our reviews and comparisons of the products itself, we gave the answers to a lot of questions about auto detailing in general.

The factors that we took into consideration when we were making our selection of the best auto polishes were ease of use, budget, effectiveness, hand or machine application, shine, and longevity.

The 19 Best Car Polish Reviews

1. Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish G19220 G19216

Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish G19220 G19216

Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish is made to remove holograms and light scratches on the paint of your vehicle while creating shine and a deep wet effect. It is the perfect product to prepare your car for waxing with the Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid Wax G18216 for example.

Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish successfully removes very small imperfections, matte, holograms, and light swirls, leaving a smooth surface with an impressive shine. That is thanks to the high-quality oils and ultrafine abrasives – a combination that works flawlessly. Abrasives correct the surface, and oils give shine, color depth, and a wet look.

Meguiar’s have invested their technology in this product – self-destructive abrasive particle technology (MDAT). In short, this means that when applying the paste there are larger abrasive particles, in the process of polishing they become smaller and smaller, which leads to the gradual creation of an ideal finish.

Advantages ✅

  • Can be applied by hand or with an orbital buffer
  • Professional product made it easy to use for DIYers
  • Outstanding results
  • Easy to use

Disadvantages

  • Must be worked on very small sections (2×2)

2. Chemical Guys VSS Scratch and Swirl Remover Polish

Chemical Guys VSS Scratch and Swirl Remover Polish

This is a favorite product of us because it’s one of the easiest to use on our list. You should already know that we value easy and simple technics and products as not everyone is a professional detailer or mechanic.

So the folks from Chemical Guys claim that the VSS will cut hard like a compound and finish in like a fine polish only in a single step. And yes, we can confirm that it removes swirls, light scratches, and marring from cars that do not need a two or three-step polishing job.

And even though it might take some time or in other cases repetition, the VSS brings that nice mirror-like surface and deep wet look. So if you are in doubt whether to buy this product for your vehicle that doesn’t have too intruding scratches or defects – go for it.

Advantages ✅

  • Saves time and effort
  • Machine or hand application
  • Cuts hard and refines finish in only one step
  • Silicone and wax free

Disadvantages

  • Perfect for light scratches and defects only

3. Meguiar’s M205 Mirror Glaze Ultra Finishing Polish

Meguiar’s M205 Mirror Glaze Ultra Finishing Polish

This is a car polish with disintegrating abrasives, allowing quick and easy treatment, removing holograms over the paint and providing a mirror-like surface. It uses advanced technology to achieve exceptional shine and a surface free of circular scratches and minor defects.

Meguiar’s are using Super Micro Abrasive technology here. This is a technology in which the particles have a higher abrasive when starting the polishing, and with each passing, they decompose and create this unique glossy effect.

Designed to be also used after Ultra-Cut Compound M105 and all other abrasives. The M205 polishing paste does not contain silicone or oil-based fillers in it, which guarantees you flawless details without hidden defects. Creates a deep glossy finish while extremely easy to remove from all types of paints.

Advantages ✅

  • Various techniques to apply
  • Brings outstanding results
  • Might be used on headlights and painted wheels
  • Safe for older cars with no clear coat

Disadvantages

  • Some users reported damaged bottles and packaging

4. Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Professional Show Car Glaze #7

Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Professional Show Car Glaze #7

Meguiar’s is here again with their Mirror Glaze Show Car #7 which is a professional-grade pure polish that dries clear and glossy without leaving white residues. It is formulated to be safe and effective on all paint finishes.

While the guys from Meguiar’s claim this polish might be used with a DA polisher and rotary buffer our experience with it says that for best result you better use it by hand. So on the downside here is that it takes some time and effort to apply and then wipe it off.

But one thing is for sure – the result you will get is worth every second of your time. You will have a show car effect hiding all the swirl marks and haze while giving a glossy and deep wet look. For longer-lasting effects and better protective results, we suggest using some of the Meguiar’s Yellow waxes like #26 or #25.

Advantages ✅

  • Hides haze, swirl marks and imperfections on the paint
  • Brings an excellent show car effect
  • Removes contaminants such as grease, road grime, dried soap, etc.
  • Doesn’t dry white

Disadvantages

  • Has to be protected with car wax for superior results and longevity

5. Chemical Guys V4 All-In-One Polish and Sealant

Chemical Guys V4 All-In-One Polish and Sealant

Chemical Guys V4 All In One Polish and Sealant is a unique formula product that creates a mirror-like surface free of abrasions while enhancing the shine and adding a protective coating to the paint.

You can use the V4 as a one-step polish doing all the hard work at once which saves you time and effort. The product is formulated for fast results no matter how it is used – by hand, with a dual-action polisher or with a rotary polisher.

The innovative abrasives in its formula cut quickly, for rapid removal of swirls, scratches, oxidation, and holograms. Finally, it creates a nice wet look on the polished surface along with a long-lasting protective layer. The synthetic technology also protects your paint from dirt, UV sunlight, bird droppings, insects, and water stains, while making it easier to clean.

V4 All-In-One can be used on any color and painted surfaces of your vehicle.

Advantages ✅

  • Silicone-free formula
  • Makes a protective layer on the paint
  • Saving you time as it polishes and seals your vehicle at once
  • Removes 1500 – 3200 grid sand scratches

Disadvantages

  • Without hydrophobic features

6. Chemical Guys V36 Optical Grade Cutting Polish and V38 Final Polish

Chemical Guys V36 Optical Grade Cutting Polish and V38 Final Polish

Two products that are made for each other to bring your vehicle back to life and make the paint looking just as you took if from the shop. We like the idea of combining them in a kit because that way you will see what they are capable of instead of using only one or another.

The V36 is formulated for quick cutting with abrasives decreasing in optical grade which restores both old paint finishes and freshly painted panels. It takes care of 2000 to 2500 grift scratches which are considered as light to moderate. For prolonged results and a reduced dusting profile, the water-based solution is mixed with advanced lubricants.

To make your vehicle look even shinier and completed, the V38 Final Polish comes to remove even the smallest imperfections. Use V38 on any DA or rotary polisher to refine the finish, remove light scuffs and scratches. V38 makes short work of light marring and refines polished surfaces with supreme optical clarity.

Advantages ✅

  • Might be used on headlights
  • V36 and V38 sold in a promotional kit
  • Removing 2000 to 3000 grift sanding scratches
  • Can be used on all colors

Disadvantages

  • It does take effort to bring the best out of both products

7. Autoglym Super Resin Polish

Autoglym Super Resin Polish

No doubt that we love the Autoglym’s Super Resin Polish because of the overall look it gives to our car paints and the ease of use which makes it a breeze doing your car whenever you have some free time.

The Super Resin Polish comes in a liquid foam shape and thanks to the miniature abrasives in it can remove light scratches, swirls, and imperfections on the body of your car. Removing the defects is also thanks to the little fillers in the formula which fill the scratches and hide them from the surface.

After treatment with the Autoglym Super Resin Polish, you will immediately notice how deep the color of your car has come, the overall freshness and wet look of the surface. We also love the fact that there is a small amount of wax in it which provides an ultra-thin defensive layer against contaminants and UV light.

Advantages ✅

  • Easy to use
  • Has a bit of wax in it
  • Autoglym is a 4-time winner of Detailing World’s Polish of the Year prize
  • Trusted by thousands of users for a very long time

Disadvantages

  • The wax layer is about to vanish in about 4-5 washes

8. Meguiar’s M82 Mirror Glaze Swirl Free Polish

Meguiar’s M82 Mirror Glaze Swirl Free Polish

Another Meguiar’s product on the list and this time it is the Swirl Free Polish which is specifically designed to eliminate fine scratches and swirl marks on the paint of your car.

Using the M82 is made to be pretty simple – easy application and removal even for the nonprofessional detailers. The effects which this high-performance polish brings are visible very quickly and you can see your vehicle shining while all the slight imperfections are already gone.

One more important thing to mention here is that the Meguiar’s #82 is specifically designed to be used on fresh paints but we can safely say that it can also be used on older paints and even glass and fiberglass. Working with the polish you can decide whether to use an electric polisher or just by hand, even though we suggest the rotary buffer as you can do the entire vehicle for a much quicker time.

Advantages ✅

  • Effortless application and removal
  • Could be used on glass and fiberglass
  • Takes delicate care for fresh pain
  • Professional grade results for non-professional detailers

Disadvantages

  • Gives the best results only on fresh paints

9. Dodo Juice Need For Speed All In One Polish And Wax

Dodo Juice Need For Speed All In One Polish And Wax

Dodo Juice Need for Speed is an all-in-one product that cleans and polishes paintwork to a wicked luster. It leaves behind a protective coating of Brazilian carnauba wax. Yes, it won’t replace the high-end car waxes or sealants in your collection with 4-6 weeks of protection but it is perfect for small corrections or re-enhancing your vehicle’s paint from time to time.

It is formulated with micro-abrasives to remove light swirls, water spots, and other mild imperfections. The product can be easily applied by rotary or dual action polisher, or by hand with a soft applicator. It works similarly to a pre-wax cleanser with the added benefit of built-in wax.

So for those of you who don’t have the time to do the multi-step process of polishing, sealing, and waxing or your vehicle just doesn’t need it, you can give Dodo Juice a try. It does the work as a mild polish properly without the need to reapply the wax you just removed.

Advantages ✅

  • One step polish and wax
  • Fast and easy to use
  • Can be used by hand, DA polisher or rotary polisher
  • Includes mild abrasives and hi-end cleaning compounds

Disadvantages

  • Proper waxing needed to extend the times between polishing

10. Turtle Wax 53412 Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Polish and Wax

Turtle Wax 53412 Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Polish and Wax

Another famous brand here which in the past was considered one of the best as there were no adequate alternatives and this is the Turtle Wax. Their Hybrid Solutions line is specially designed with the help of professional detailers to bring together ease of use and cost-effectiveness.

Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Polish & Wax is a synthetic polish that removes scratches, swirls, and oxidation with the help of precise polishing agents.

It also has the features of a  synthetic wax which give excellent shine and color depth, and the SiO2 (silicon dioxide) infusion provides lasting surface protection. It successfully repels water and dirt thanks to the hydrophobic polymers.

Advantages ✅

  • Can be used by hand or machine
  • Two-in-one product features – polish and wax
  • Easy to use
  • Very good price-quality ratio

Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t last that long

11. Nu Finish Once A Year Car Liquid Car Polish

Nu Finish Once A Year Car Liquid Car Polish

Nu Finish polish provides excellent and lasting protection from sunlight, rain, humidity, oxidation, and road surface chemicals throughout the entire year. Nu Finish claims that the product will be effective up to 52 car washes.

The polishing formula is blended based 100% on synthetic polymers and does not contain any carnauba wax. It is said to be 5 times stronger protection for car paint than any polishing paste based on carnauba wax and it seems that the people we spoke with who have tried the product agree on that.

We very much like the convenience of working in direct sunlight because sometimes we are forced to as well as the fact that it can be used for polishing chrome surfaces.

Advantages ✅

  • Attractive price
  • Can be also used on chrome surfaces, RVs, fiberglass boats
  • Long-lasting
  • Have certain car wax features

Disadvantages

  • The “No rubbing” and “No buffing” on the front of the package is a false statement

12. Shine Armor Fortify Quick Coat – Ceramic Waterless Wash, Shine, and Polish Spray

Shine Armor Fortify Quick Coat – Ceramic Waterless Wash, Shine, and Polish Spray

Next is another versatile product that we are also fans of because it is made to have the job done quickly and easily.

It is not the regular car polish but it is more of three products in one. Shine Armor Fortify Quick Coat will waterless wash your car, polish and remove light imperfections and then protect it like wax.

Even though it sounds too unrealistic we are telling you the product does what it says pretty good and it lasts for about 2 to 3 months depending on the weather conditions in your region. It does provide proper UV protection and is safe to use on all of the surfaces on your vehicle.

Advantages ✅

  • Can be used under direct sunlight
  • No need for waiting between application and removal
  • 3-in-1 product
  • Very quick and easy to use

Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t work like a professional-grade car polish

13. CarGuys Hybrid Wax Sealant

CarGuys Hybrid Wax Sealant

Yes, you might be wondering what wax or sealant might be doing in a list of polishes but this is the innovative product from CarGuys that combines all three of them – wax, sealant, and a polish. Amazing, no?

What we like the most here is the ease of use. We know that most of our readers are not professional detailers so we strive to come up with products that bring excellent results but at the same time are easy to use.

Made with the latest technologies the CarGuys Hybrid Wax Sealant will make your car shine as it was waxed with a carnauba paste wax while protecting just as long as a real paint sealant. Once applied on your vehicle it will be effective between 3 and 6 months depending on how you treat your vehicle as well as the climate conditions in your area.

Advantages ✅

  • Can be used on all different colors of cars and vehicles
  • Versatile product – might be used not only on cars but other home equipment
  • Provides perfect UV protection and deep shine
  • Very easy to use

Disadvantages

  • The vehicle must be 100% cool and under shadow before applying the product

14. Meguiar’s G18216 Ultimate Liquid Wax

Meguiar’s G18216 Ultimate Liquid Wax

We put this car wax from Meguiar’s in the list of polishes first because it is outstanding and second it does bring some of the effects that you expect from a pure polish so we think it is worthy of giving it a try.

It is based on synthetic polymer wax and gives long-lasting protection, shine, and color depth. We must say it is extremely easy to apply and even comes with applicator and microfiber cloth.

This is one of Meguiar’s top products because of the Thin Film Technology designed for easy usage. The main component is a synthetic polymer wax, which gives an incredible shine and color depth. The other advantage of this product is that it can be applied in direct sunlight and on a hot surface. The ease with which it is applied will impress you, as well as the effect, but the long-lasting effect will make you love the G18216.

Advantages ✅

  • Lasts much longer than carnauba based products
  • Much better water beading
  • Protects against oxidation and matting
  • Comes with a cloth and applicator

Disadvantages

  • More of wax than a polish

Make sure you read our complete guide on the best car waxes.

15. Car Guys Liquid Wax Paint Sealant

Car Guys Liquid Wax Paint Sealant

Another versatile product that says it is wax in the title but it’s much more in fact and that’s why we think it’s a good idea to draw your attention on it. It’s a sealant made by revolutionary and patented polymer additive which enhances the qualities and longevity giving it much more value for the money.

And because it is a liquid product, it’s super smooth to apply and even easier to buff of. The results after our tests are surface that feels super slick, shiny with not a residue, haze, or whatsoever.

So all in all this is a product appropriate for vehicles that are relatively in good shape without too many swirls and scratches that only need some maintenance to keep their perfect look. We love it because of the easy application and removal and the super slick finish it gives.

Advantages ✅

  • Patented polymer additive formula
  • Super easy to apply and buff of
  • Can be used on rims, paint, metal, and glass
  • Comes with applicator and microfiber cloth

Disadvantages

  • Must be very careful not to be applied on plastic or rubber

16. 3D Speed All-In-One Polish And Wax

3D Speed All-In-One Polish And Wax

Another product we are excited to present to you is the 3D or HD Speed All-In-One Polish And Wax and as you can see from the title it is not only polish but it also seals the paint. We love it because it gives outstanding results and is very easy to use even for the hobby detailers.

Using the 3D polish on your car you will see immediate gloss, mirror-like effect, and all the fine swirls and scratches will disappear while leaving your paint sealed. Very easy to apply by hand or even better with a dual action polisher. Buffing off is also e breeze and you can wipe it off even under direct sunlight without waiting for so long to cure.

So a very good product here which will remove swirl marks and minor scratches, easy to use and even seals your paint. Recommended even for professional detailers.

Advantages ✅

  • Can be used under direct sunlight
  • Can be literally “wiped off” super easy
  • Providing excellent gloss and shiny look
  • UV protection

Disadvantages

  • Not suitable for deep scratches

17. Carfidant Polish & Paint Restorer

Carfidant Polish & Paint Restorer

A product from the not so famous Carfidant company that offers all the features of a standard polish with additional car wax properties. It is intended to help you remove light scratches, swirls, or other marks.

Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover can be used effortlessly by hand to also restore the original gloss and shine of your vehicle. It’s also effective in removing oxidations and water spots from all kinds of paints and colors.

Manufactured in the USA, the guys from Carfidant have spent years of research to provide quality polishing compound made from specifically selected chemicals and substances that does the work without giving any side effects.

Advantages ✅

  • Fast and easy to use
  • Comes with a buffer pad
  • Can be used on any clear coat, single-stage or multi-stage paint
  • Made in the USA

Disadvantages

  • Works only on minimal scratches

18. Epic Elements Protect 3 in 1 Wash, Shine, & Protect

Epic Elements Protect 3 in 1

Another all-in-one product in our list and it is the Protect from Epic Elements. We must say that it is not a pure polish and will not do the job you would expect from a proper car polish product but it is very good to maintain the perfect condition of your already polished vehicle.

It is, however, able to remove very light swirls and scratches while at the same time leaving your car protected from UV rays, bird droppings, and dirt. Having your car done with Epic Elements Protect you will see the immediate shine, gloss, and deep wet effect.

It also serves as a ceramic coating spray and is very easy to use – just spray on your car and wipe off, it’s that easy and fast. We recommend that product for non-professionals who want to maintain their vehicle protected and in perfect shine for a longer time in between the main detailing jobs.

Advantages ✅

  • Very easy to use
  • Protects from mud, bird droppings and scratches
  • Ultra-hydrophobic protection
  • Creates a nice shiny gloss coat

Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t last that long

19. TopCoat F11 Polish & Sealer

TopCoat F11 Polish & Sealer

A product that is not that effective with the deep scratches or the more visible swirls but very good for already done cars that only need to be maintained and nourished. It is not professional and will not do the job of a pure polish but we put it in the list as it is convenient to be used as a fast color enricher.

The TopCoat F11 is made with a water-based innovative formula that is solvents or abrasive compounds free. Once applied on the car, it gives really deep colors while at the same time making a protective layer against bird droppings, road debris, and bugs. That makes it easy to clean and maintain.

Advantages ✅

  • Easy and time saving to use
  • Polish and sealant in one
  • Provides a protective layer against contaminants
  • Hydrophobic (repels water)

Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t give the results of a real polish

Buyer’s Guide About The Best Car Polishes

What Are The Different Types Of Car Polish?

Forget what you have read before and ignore the people that claim there are many different types of car polish. The truth is that the only way to sort or distinguish car polish is by the technology of how the abrasives work. Here is the time to say that every proper car polish uses abrasives.

By polishing you “shave” the clear coat of your vehicle to remove all the imperfections and dirt. The “shaving” is done thanks to the abrasives in either type of car polish.

It is also important to mention that you have to be aware of which type of polish you are going to work with as this will also determine the working technique and approach.

So that being said, car polish is divided into two main categories/ types.

1. Non-Diminishing Abrasives

The first one is the so-called “SMAT” (Super-Micro-Abrasive Technology) or “Non-diminishing abrasives” and as the name suggests, the abrasives in this type of car polish do not diminish or break down quickly.

Basically, in SMAT polishes, the abrasives remain the same size (super micro and non-visible) throughout the entire working process. Therefore their effectiveness and “shaving power” remain the same as long as you work (or the most of the process).

You need to remember that and adopt your working technique accordingly. Simply said, you have to regularly inspect your work as you polish to be sure that you are working on the right area where there are scratches and dirt and once they are gone you stop and move forward to the next part.

DAT and SMAT Technology Explained2. Diminishing Abrasives

The second one is the so-called “DAT” (Diminishing abrasive technology) or “diminishing abrasives” and here the abrasives are made to break down quickly during the working process.

In DAT polishes, the abrasives will break down and therefore become smaller and smaller during your working process. That means that the “shaving power” will be the strongest at the beginning of the working of that certain spot and gradually become more delicate leaving a smooth and glossy surface.

The trick to working with DAT polish is to polish long enough and “give time to the abrasives” to break down otherwise you will not get the desired results. The good thing is that modern DAT polishes take almost the same time to get a car done as normal polish.

Every different from the above-mentioned types of car polish you will see in the description of a certain product would be most probably the fruit of the marketing tricks of the manufacturers.

Tips On How To Buy The Most Appropriate Car Polish

Here is a list of the steps we recommend you take when buying a car polish and below we’ll further discuss them:

  1. Inspect the condition of your paint
  2. Select the corresponding car polish (remember the SMAT and DAT)
  3. Select the correct application pad
  4. Test

The fact that a car is one year old for example and has always been left in a garage overnight but has been used every day does not mean that it’s clear coat is in good condition.

A car that has been used every day even for only 12 months in most cases would need polishing with the strongest abrasives so that they can remove the accumulated defects.

For a 12 month driving a car usually accumulates enough oxidation that can only be removed with strong abrasives. You should also make a note that scratches on a factory clear coat which is very strong are difficult to remove with a normal polish or the once that are recommended for “touching up” in between the main polishing jobs.

The entire idea is that there is no universal and best polish for everyone because every vehicle is in different condition and age. As an example, a polish that I have used and loved on the hard clear coat of a new BMW will most probably not work as perfectly on the soft clear coat of an old Mazda or Lexus.

The next step in choosing a polish is to select the corresponding application pad for it. In most of cases the harder the pad the more defects it will remove.

Very often the combination of several polishes from different manufacturers is also successful. The best thing to do however is to choose a certain area and test the products you are about to use. That way you will know if they are suitable and if you can use them for the entire car.

Tips On How To Use A Car Polish

From all the processes involved in the exterior car detailing, polishing is the most difficult and time-consuming to understand and master. Not that it is difficult to do but all the choices of different polishes, application pads, machines, and techniques make it so confusing especially for the newbies.

And because this is a very broad topic that needs to be learned and practiced with years of experience, we’ll give you simple bits of advice that will help you start your detailing hustle.

  1. Define the type of paste you are going to use to define the type of working technique
  2. Stick to a single brand
  3. Master it and move forward

The first thing to determine before polishing a car is whether you need a DAT or SMAT polish. This will also define the technique you are going to use.

Sometimes it is very difficult to know if a certain product is DAT or SMAT because it is not even stated in the label or instructions.

That is why our second advice to the newbie detailers is to choose only one brand and stick only to their products for a while. Preferably this will be a reputable manufacturer with good customer support.

This is the only way to test various products, learn the different features, see the results, and make adequate evaluations which will help in the future.

Very often in the effort of making their vehicle look shinier and shinier, newbie detailers use so many different products from different manufacturers all claiming to be the best and this leads to confusion, not understanding the basics of the polishing process and undesirable results.

The Best Car Polish Brands On The Market

The best car polish manufacturers we consider those who are long enough on the market and we can see they can defend their positions in the sea of competitor’s products out there. Those are also the products which we would see in every professional detailer’s garage. The best brands on the market have shown long traditions and understanding of the products they offer and constantly try to master them to provide the best possible user experience.

Meguiar’s

Meguiar’s is an American company that inspires all of today’s auto detailing companies to grow by emulating it. Founded in 1901, it has grown from a family business to a huge industry internationally, becoming a leader in the production of car care products.

Meguiar’s works closely with car manufacturers to monitor the changes in car painting and painting techniques, and then adapts and develops its products to reflect the needs posed by these changes.

Chemical Guys

Chemical Guys is a global supplier of the highest quality car care products, car wash accessories, polishing products, pads, machines, and, most importantly, knowledge. Chemical Guys have established a name in the car care industry, as the company whose teams of experienced professionals are in constant cooperation with end-users and accordance with their requirements, constantly develop their formulas and create newer and more up-to-date products ahead of the competition.

It is for these reasons that they have an extremely wide range of products and accessories, being one of the companies with the greatest variety.

Car Guys

CarGuys is a relatively new company in the detailing world. They are committed to providing you with the very best products available in the market. Everything they do is non-toxic and biodegradable, unlike other companies. Car Guys work with some of the best formulators in the world who have spent countless hours in Research, Testing, and Development.

Key Features To Look For When Buying The Best Car Polish

Like with many other detailing products, the nomenclature in car polishes is not common and different manufacturers are using diverse names, features, and capabilities to present their products as the best from the best.

Just to clarify, we are talking about real polishing products here whose main job is to cut through the paint and remove the scratches and dirt that are over the clear coat. And here comes the delicate moment because we want a car polish that is just enough aggressive for our paint finish.

If we choose too aggressive polish, it’ll remove more clear coat than needed and that’s not desirable as it shortens the life of our coat. If it is not enough aggressive on the other hand, it will possibly not remove some of the deeper scratches.

So the most important features that you need to look for when selecting the right car polish for your car is:

1. Aggressiveness

Typically, there are three main levels of aggressiveness. The most aggressive car polishes are called compounds. In the middle are the polishing compounds and the least aggressive are the finishing compound.

Which one you will choose depends on the condition of the vehicle you are going to work on. To give you an idea, if the car is in really bad condition, then you have to use all the three different types in three different steps to bring back the paint into life.

On the other hand, if the vehicle has only minor defects or almost no defects, then you might only use the finishing polish to “nourish” the paint and prepare it for the last step of the detailing process – waxing/ sealing.

And the aggressiveness of a car polish mainly depends on the abrasives in its formula.

2. DAT or SMAT

Depending on the working techniques you are used to or you want to learn you have to select a car polish which is either Diminishing Abrasive Technology (DAT) or Non-diminishing abrasive technology (SMAT).

3. Applying

You have to make sure that the car polish you are about to choose works with the preferred from you method of application. Whether you are going to apply it by hand or with a DA (Dual action polisher) check in the description that the polish is suitable for it. Most modern polishes can be used by hand and with a DA though.

4. Brand

As we mentioned above, especially for newbie detailers we recommend sticking to a single brand that is highly reputable with good customer support. An excellent example of that is Meguiar’s.

5. Easy usage

Make sure the polish you choose is easy to apply and buff off. That can be easily checked in the comments area and by reading reviews by other users.

Car Polish Pricing

As with any other product the prices of car polishes differ mainly depending on the quality and size of the package. In our list, we have selected 19 of the best car polishes currently on the market. Their prices vary between $17 and $27 for a bottle. We can comfortably say that for about $20 you can buy a professional grade car polish.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Best Car Polishes

Why Should I Polish My Car?

Your car is exposed to the various weather conditions as soon as you leave the dealership.

External factors such as sunlight, rain, snow, and road debris deteriorate the clear coat and paint. Scratches and swirls inevitably appear because of wrong washing and drying techniques. Contact with other objects especially when your vehicle is covered with dust is another reason for that.

That is how a vehicle acquires the annoying matte appearance as well as the scratches and swirls on the surface.

The right way to remove those scratches and clean the matte surface of the paint, to obtain a perfect shine and bring back the deep colors is by polishing and waxing the paint. To help you understand two of the main processes of exterior auto detailing we’ll sum them up below:

How Do The Processes Work?

  • Car polishing – during the polishing, the surface (clear coat) of the car is treated with the appropriate car polish which corresponds to the level of wear and the number of scratches and swirls on it. This process removes the defects over the paint along with all the dirt which is accumulated over time and cannot be removed just by regular washing. By polishing, you are ”shaving” the clearcoat to get rid of all the imperfections (scratches and dirt) and prepare it for the next step in the detailing process – waxing.
  • Waxing – this is the next step where all the other minor defects are smoothed to such an extent that the surface acquires a perfect gloss and shine. In this process not only the vehicle obtains an excellent look but also a protective. It’s much difficult for the dirt and contaminants to get stuck on the surface and if they do, it is a lot easier to clear them.

What Are The Benefits Of A Car Polish?

  • The main job and therefore benefit of a car polish is that it removes defects, scratches, swirls, and dirt from the finish of the paint. That way the car acquires a showroom gloss, shine, and deep color.
  • That being said, if you are about to sell your vehicle we advise you to have it polished as it will surely increase the resale value by providing an attractive look.
  • Extends the life of the paint by removing dirt which is already spotted and causes oxidation. А good example for that is the insects. When the flies hit the surface, they are sprayed and their juices are soaked or dried on the surface.

Do I Need A Car Polish?

Almost any car needs a car polish. Even brand new cars coming from the manufacturer’s showrooms have minor swirls that can be removed by polishing. So whether you have a brand new car with almost invisible imperfections or a vehicle with major defects, dirt, and scratches, yes a car polish will take care of them.

What Are The Advantages Of Owning A Car Polish?

Having a car polish in your arsenal of detailing products is always handy as you can make corrections of the paint whenever it is needed. For that purpose, it is especially useful to have a finishing compound polish which is the least aggressive and used only for touch-ups here and there and to fix the slightest imperfections.

The all-in-one products also provide a good opportunity to only ‘nourish’ the paint whenever that is needed or when you want to freshen up the paint and gloss.

What Does The Car Polish Actually Do?

The car polish removes the defects, scratches, swirls, oxidation, and dirt from the paint finish of a car. This is done by “shaving” or “cutting” the clearcoat with the appropriate car polish to the level when the defects are removed from the surface.

Do I Wash My Car Before Polishing And How Clean Does It Have To Be?

It is crucial to perfectly clean your car before polishing. Any kind of dirt left on the surface before polishing will lead to even worst scratches and warning out. Even the smallest parts of dirt like dust are kind of abrasives that will potentially go through the paint and leave “scars”.

So washing properly with a proper car shampoo is essential. After washing you must make the so-called paint decontamination with the help of detailing clay.

 What Do I Have To Do After I’ve Polished My Car?

After polishing it is essential to put protection of the paint which will defend it from various harmful factors that would otherwise destroy the gloss or will be a prerequisite for the appearance of unwanted defects.

Polishing a car without protecting it is like leaving an open wound on your body. Products like car wax or a sealant are used after polishing to provide a protective layer.

When Should You Use Car Polish?

Car polish must be used whenever there are visible defects, imperfections, or dirt on the clear coat of the paint. Furthermore, even brand new cars have minor, almost invisible defects that can be removed with the help of a finishing polish.

Also, it is essential to use car polish before waxing as it removes all the contaminants which will otherwise cause even more visible defects.

How To Polish A Car By Hand

Here is a good explanation video:

  1. Wash: The first thing to do before polishing is thoroughly washing the car to remove any dirt, dust, and grease that might be left of the surface. After proper washing, you need to inspect your vehicle visually and with your fingers. You need to feel if there are any “above the surface” contaminants or imperfections.
  2. Claying: If this is the case, you need to decontaminate the pain by using a clay bar otherwise you risk making even more damage. Once the car is perfectly clean you can start applying the polish.
  3. Shake: Shake the bottle well to make sure it is all mixed up inside
  4. Apply: Apply a couple of pea-sized drops on the applicator and start doing circular motions. Work on small areas at a time – something like 12 by 12 inches. Once you’re done with the circular motions you can go ahead with up and down and right and left movements to have even coverage on the entire area.
  5. Buff out: once the entire surface is covered you are ready to buff out with a clean microfiber cloth.

How Long Does Car Polishing Effects Last?

It mainly depends on the way the car is used. If it is used daily then inevitably it acquires, dirt, oxidation, swirls, and scratches from wrong washing very quickly. It also depends on what kind of protective product has been applied – wax or a sealant. Generally, after one year of a daily driven car, it acquires major/ visible defects again.

How Often To Polish A Car?

The simple answer to this question is whenever there are any major/ visible defects and dirt that cannot be removed with regular washing. Keep in mind that too frequent polishing is not advisable as it “shaves” or “cuts” a small layer of the clear coat.

Why Should I Use Car Polish?

To remove dirt, swirls, scratches, and oxidation from the clear coat of your paint. Car polish would also enhance the gloss and shine of the paint.

What Are The Car Polishes That Must Be Avoided?

We avoid polishes from brands we have never heard of or know anyone who used them. Also, we would be suspicious of products that are too cheap and promising for the price.

Car Polish vs Car Wax: What Is The Difference?

The car polish removes scratches, swirls, oxidation, and dirt that cannot be cleaned with a normal car wash. It does that by “cutting” a micro layer of the clear coat. That way the surface becomes smooth and glossy and even by touching one can feel the difference. Wax is used after a car has been polished and it forms a protective layer of the already polished surface. Take the car wax as a protective glove. It protects the smoothened surfaces from UV rays, road debris, and bird droppings. It makes it shinier and takes care even for the smallest imperfections.

Do I Need A Machine Polisher To Polish My Car?

You do not need a machine polisher even though with a dual-action polisher the process can be done much faster and effortlessly. The same results can be obtained either by hand or with a machine and it all depends on how the person doing it is used to work and which technique is mastered.

Conclusion

Car polishing is an essential process in the detailing world. As you already understood, it is not difficult but it takes time and practice to master it.

No matter if you are a newbie detailer or professional we strongly suggest using high-quality polishes from one of the most reputable brands on the market.

In our list above, we have selected products for professionals, newbie detailers, and for those who want to maintain only their cars in between the main detailing jobs.

We’ve selected the best products from the top manufacturers on the market currently and most of them we’ve tested ourselves to be sure we are not misleading our readers.

Good luck and shiny detailing!

Jason Clark

Jason Clark

15 years of experience as a professional mechanic. Rally car test pilot and advisor.

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