I took several factors into consideration when compiling our list of the best car polishes. I sought out items from well-known brands with a reputation for producing high-quality car-care products. I also looked at car polishes in a wide range of prices to suit a variety of budgets. In addition, I made sure to choose products that are easy to use. I avoided products that are particularly difficult to buff out or that leave a hazy finish behind. While I didn't have a chance to test each and every one of these products, I made sure to research their effectiveness in order to produce our guide of the best products on the market. For more information on our methodology, go here.
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Best Car Polish Reviews & Recommendations
- Brand: Meguiar’s
- Size: 16 ounces
- Type: Pre-wax glaze
- Repairs paint
- Provides a high gloss
- Good for dark-colored vehicles
- Strong odor
- Ventilation recommended
- May require multiple coats
This pre-wax glaze works to repair your paint and breathe new life into it. It will give your dull paint a high-gloss finish that looks wet. If you have a dark-colored vehicle, you’ll especially benefit from the repairing effects of this glaze. With careful application, it will permanently remove defects. This glaze can also deepen the color of your paint with polishing oils.
Unfortunately, this glaze doesn’t smell good. This can make it unpleasant to use, so be sure to apply it in a well-ventilated area. You may also need to apply more than one coat to get the deep mirror-like shine that Meguiar’s promises.
- Brand: Nu Finish
- Size: 16 ounces
- Type: Liquid polish
- Provides protective coating
- No heavy buffing required
- Can be applied in sunlight
- Versatile application
- May leave small spots
- Can produce strong odor
A number-one-rated car polish for its durability, protection, shine improvement, and value, this car polish might just be what you need in a pinch. This one requires no heavy rubbing or buffing. Unlike other options, this can also be applied in direct sunlight without adverse effects such as splotching and goes on smoothly in any temperature. The polish is a true multitasker; the formulation is good enough to protect fiberglass boats, airplanes, motorcycles, and a number of household items that have painted metal bodies. It’s also one of the few car polishes that contains no wax, allowing you to give your vehicle a true polish coat. The finished layer is durable, making it so you can get away with polishing your car once a year.
When not worked in properly, the polish tends to leave small spots along the surface. These spots are particularly noticeable on white finishes. If you apply the polish in a garage, you may also start to notice an unpleasant odor as you work. Otherwise, it has many great properties that work well with most cars.
Best for Black Vehicles
Turtle Wax Color Magic Jet Black Wax
- Brand: Turtle Wax
- Size: 500 ml
- Type: Jet black wax
- Reputable brand
- Designed for black vehicles
- Brightens up faded finishes
- Removes oxidation
- Can be tough to rub off
- Won’t correct deep scratches
This car polish is from a highly regarded brand and is formulated with a rich blend of polishes and dyes that work to deepen the dark color of your vehicle. It uses black-tinted technology to keep black vehicles looking their best. It rejuvenates the faded finish by removing oxidation from the paint and when fully cured, leaves a long-lasting lustrous finish. When it dries, it will have a hazy finish but you can gently buff it with a microfibre cloth to get the mirror shine. It also contains pigments that seal light scratches and swirl marks. The polish is safe to use on all vehicles.
Unfortunately, adding an extra layer of the polish won’t make it any shinier. It’s also hard to rub off. In addition, it won’t mask deeper scratches or marks and may make them stand out once it’s fully cured.
Best for UV Protection
Chemical Guys All-In-One Polish
- Brand: Chemical Guys
- Size: 16 ounces
- Type: Polish and sealant
- Produces mirror-like shine
- Protects paintwork
- UV ray protection
- Masks small imperfections
- Not great for large scratches or swirls
- Application can be messy
Chemical Guys’ all-in-one product combines polish and sealant to give your vehicle a mirror shine and protect your paintwork. It’s a water-based formula with synthetic sealant technology that offers long-lasting protection from UV rays, insect stains, bird droppings, and any other harsh environment it’s exposed to. It can be used to mask light imperfections such as swirl marks, chips, and scratches to leave a glossy, scratch-free finish. The sealant locks in the formulation and can last up to six months, even with frequent washing. It’s designed to work on all colors including clear coat paints, and the formula is body-shop safe and OEM-approved.
However, it doesn’t work well on cars with heavy scratches and swirls. It’s also thick, which makes it a bit challenging to load it on a sponge. It makes the surface sticky, and application can be messy. Moreover, it has no hydrophobic properties, meaning that water doesn’t bead up and roll off the surface.
Most Environmentally Friendly
TopCoat Master Craftsman Polish and Sealer
- Brand: TopCoat
- Size: 2 or16 ounces
- Type: Polish and sealer
- Long-lasting shine
- Masks minor scratches
- Can be used on engine parts
- May leave streaks on glass
- Not for darker vehicles
This car care kit comes with a 16-ounce spray bottle of a polish and water-based sealer, a two-ounce topcoat polish and sealer, and two microfiber towels. The polish cures to a brilliant, long-lasting shine, which rejuvenates the look of older or faded car finishes. The sealant then hides minor scratches and swirl marks. It also gently removes dirt and grime.The combined formula acts to repel water, grime, insect stains, and other impurities to make it easier to clean them off. The product is an eco-safe, non-stick formula with no solvents or abrasives. It’s also nonflammable, which makes it great for applying on engine parts.
The formula can leave streak marks on glass, so you should avoid using it on the windshield. It also doesn’t work well on dark vehicles and may make the paint look faded.
- Brand: Meguiar’s
- Size: 16 ounces
- Type: Polish
- Professional grade
- Glossy-wet shine
- Safe for all finishes
- Easy to apply
- Dries clear
- Tough to wipe off
- Requires frequent reapplication
This professional-grade polish is designed to produce a show-car shine that looks glossy wet. It dries clear instead of white and is safe for all types of paint finishes, including single-stage and clear-coat finishes. You can use this product by hand or with a polisher or rotary buffer. The polish is simple, easy, and quick to apply. One of its best features is that it dries clear, so it doesn't leave behind any annoying or visible residue in areas such as the body joints. It produces that sought-after wet look and buffs out easily. It repels rainwater without spotting, and the paint shines like new.
This polish can be difficult to wipe off using a microfiber cloth because it dries quickly. There have also been some complaints that the company is using a new formula that does not leave behind the same slick surface. Also, you may need to reapply it frequently to keep your vehicle looking nice.
Our pick for the best car polish is Meguiar's Ultimate Polish. It acts as a pre-wax glaze and helps produce a glossy, wet look, particularly on dark vehicles. It also removes minor defects. For a more budget-friendly option, consider Nu Finish Liquid Car Polish.
What to Consider When Buying Car Polish
There are several factors to consider before investing in a car polish. First, decide whether you want just a polish or one with wax and/or sealer properties. Examine the abrasiveness of the formula and whether it's compatible with your vehicle and how easy it is to apply the product to the surface area.
Types of Car Polish
Polish and Wax
This type of polish is a glaze and a car wax combined. These products typically include a mild abrasive to remove minor defects and have fillers to mask imperfections. The wax element will then protect the finish. The downside is that this type of polish will not last as long as some other types. It may work for around a month before you have to reapply it, which can be a hassle.
Polish and Sealer
A polish and sealer is designed to eliminate light scratches, swirl marks, and other surface imperfections. It cleans the finish and also provides a protective coating against the elements, insect debris, road grime. Some people use this type of product in place of wax. It also does a good job of restoring the color and shine of your paint job.
If you're a purist, you might want to stick with pure polish. These products are designed solely to remove minor imperfections on your vehicle's paintwork. They fill in small scratches and swirl marks. They don't contain wax or sealant, so you will need to apply separate products on top of the polish for the best results.
Car Polish Key Features
Today's polishing formulas contain abrasives that break down into tiny particles when you buff the product into the paint. The abrasive elements get finer and finer the more you work the polish into the finish. While most polishes are suitable for most vehicles, it's smart to check the level of abrasiveness to make sure it's safe for your needs.
Ultimately, you decide how to apply the polish on your vehicle, but some products are more effective when used with a mechanical buffer versus a microfiber cloth. Paste products, for example, are more challenging to apply by hand. Liquids are much easier to work with, but they are less effective when it comes to filling scratches.
Car Polish Pricing
Some car polishes are fairly affordable and cost less than $20. They have varying degrees of abrasiveness, and it's important to make sure the formula is compatible with your vehicle's finish. Other brands can cost upwards of $40, and many of them include an applicator, which can save you some money. More premium options can cost more than $50. These products are typically professional grade or part of a kit. They're not necessarily better than slightly less expensive options, but they may include more volume, so they will last a little bit longer than those in smaller bottles.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers
Q: What’s the difference between waxing and polishing my car?
A: When your vehicle's finish starts to wear down and show minor imperfections such as marks, lines, and scratches, it's time to polish it. Polish products are designed to fill in and smooth these spots so they're less visible. After you polish the paint, you can top it off with wax, which protects the finish and improves its luster.
Q: How often should I polish my car?
A: Ideally, you should polish your vehicle every six months. This will protect the paint and keep it shiny as long as you wax it as well. If you polish it more often, you can wear down the paint.
Q: Does polish damage car paint?
A: It's critical to be careful when applying a polish to your car's paint because it contains abrasives in its formula. Use polish sparingly because it thins out the paint and can potentially damage the clear coat.
What’s the difference between waxing and polishing my car?
A car polish is needed when the surface of a vehicle starts to show signs of wear—typical imperfections include small scratches, marks, or lines. With a car polish, these little imperfections get filled in, smoothing the surface and making the marks almost invisible. Waxing helps protect the paint and enhances the overall luster of the vehicle.
How do I polish my car by hand?
You’ll need some time and patience to polish a car by hand. To start out, wash your car thoroughly. Then, apply a high-quality car polish to a soft cloth and rub it over the car in a circular motion. Continue this motion until the polish disappears completely. Repeat until every inch of your car has been polished. Finish off with a wax and sealant for a complete detailing.
How often should I polish my car?
In general, it’s important to polish your car twice a year. This will keep the paint shiny and protected (with the proper wax) as the weather changes. You can polish it more frequently, but the more you do it, the faster the paint will wear down.
What's the best thing to put on your car to make it shine? ›
Apply Car Polish
Applying polish is the essential step to making a car shine. Car polish helps with removing scratches, minor paint correction, and restores fading paintwork. A good polish will also aid in eliminating fine swirls and improve the car's finish by smoothening out even deep scratches on the car paint.
What car polishes do the professionals use? Professionals don't use one particular car polish. To get a professional auto detailing look in your car, it's important to use a random orbital or dual-action polisher and to seal your paint with a wax or ceramic coating after you've finished polishing.Does polishing a car make it shine? ›
Car polish contains abrasives that help remove surface imperfections from paint, like swirl marks, scratches, and watermarks. Polishing also adds shine and depth of color to dull, weathered paint.Does ceramic coating make car shine more? ›
Much like car bra, ceramic coating also gloss and depth into your car's paint. It will give your car a glossy look, bringing the best out of the original paint job.Is car polish better than wax? ›
Car polish is only ideal for getting rid of mild surface defects. It won't paint the defects that have penetrated the clear coat and subsequent layers. However, a car wax is normally used to make the paint look shiny and protects it from airborne contaminants. It also helps to minimize sun damage and prevent oxidation.How do dealerships make cars so shiny? ›
Keep in mind many used car dealers will use a product called a glaze, which basically makes the car look really slick and shiny, only until it washes off. If you are a mobile detailer considering stepping up to washing fleets (like dealerships), check out my post 8 Tips for Starting a Fleet Washing Business.How do I make my car vinyl shine? ›
HOMEMADE LEATHER AND VINYL CLEANER
Pour 1/4 cup plain white vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil and 6 drops lemon essential oil into a spray bottle. Shake well. To use: Spray a generous amount of leather and vinyl cleaner on a clean cloth (not directly onto the leather or vinyl).
If you've just polished your car, waxing it afterward will improve the shine and make it last longer. Essentially, car polish removes imperfections and creates a shiny surface while wax protects and smoothens the paint's surface.What do professional car detailers use? ›
Professional detailers use microfiber towels to wash, dry and even apply wax to your car. This ultra-soft, microfiber material consists of thousands of tiny, highly absorbent fibers that encapsulate dirt and soils to protect your clear coat from scratches and swirls, drawing them away from your car's painted finish.Which polish is best for dashboard? ›
- Best Dashboard and Leather Polish for Glossy Car Interiors. Apr 07, 2021. ...
- Best Buy. Waxpol Vinyl and Dashboard Car Polish (100 ml) ...
- No Ammonia. ...
- Hi-Tech Dashboard Polish. ...
- Dashboard Restorer.
What wax do professional detailers use? ›
Our preferred wax is Carnauba wax, which is typically preferred among professional detailers. Waxes applied after vehicle detailing sits on top of the paint and help to create deeper hues in the paint with a liquid-like finish.Is getting your car polished worth it? ›
For car detailing enthusiasts, polishing is a must in any detailing regimen. For most car owners, on the other hand, polishing is often neglected and overshadowed by waxing and sealants, but is by far the most beneficial step in maintaining the pristine appearance of your car's paint finish.Can a car be polished too much? ›
Polishes are abrasive and for that reason we recommend only polishing your car as needed because each time you polish, you're removing a layer of material. If you over-polish your car, you will eventually thin out the paint and in extreme cases can cut through the clearcoat and the paint right through to the undercoat!What is the downside to ceramic coating? ›
Disadvantages of the Procedure
Duration of the procedure (it may take much more time than waxing). Price (ceramic coating is an attribute of an expensive car. Not everyone can afford to apply ceramics). Difficult to remove (ceramic coating doesn't last forever.
For most people, the answer is ceramic and wax
For the ultimate combination of long-lasting protection and shine, we recommend applying both wax and ceramic coating. Wax will give your car that showroom-fresh look, and the ceramic will help it keep it looking fresh for months to come.
Ceramic protectants (coatings) provide a much higher durability than wax. They resist heat, UV rays, environmental contaminants & harsh detergents much better than wax. Wax on the other hand simply sits on top of the paint's surface. It does not create the chemical bond like we find with ceramic coatings.Which car wax lasts the longest? ›
Nothing leaves a longer-lasting glass-like shine than high-grade carnauba wax. Of all the different types of carnauba waxes, this is the best car wax for the longest-lasting finish and shine of a vehicle's exterior.How many times should I polish my car? ›
When To Polish Your Car. If you're taking good care of your car, polishing your car once or twice a year should be sufficient to fix up any minor scratches or wear. If you frequently find yourself with scrapes or spots, you can take it to be polished more regularly.How do I get a smooth finish on my car? ›
To begin, clean and dry the problem area, then box it in with automotive masking tape. Do an initial sanding with wet and dry 300-grit sandpaper. Finish by smoothing with a wet and dry 1200-grit sandpaper. Wipe off the sanded area to ensure you've smoothed out the paint glob and then remove the masking tape.What do car dealers use to make cars smell new? ›
Ozium was created in the 1940s as a sanitizing spray, but it eventually caught on with car people. Dealerships use it to freshen used cars. Car detailers use it. Car owners use it to keep their cars smelling nice.
What makes a car look fast? ›
Nearly all cars have a small amount of speed designed into their look. This is due to them being moving objects- and the design is usually intended to be directional. This is often functional as well as purely for styling. The most obvious aspect of this is what we will call the “wedge” and the “taper”.Can you use Windex on car vinyl? ›
You can use Windex® Ammonia-Free Glass Cleaner on your car's tinted windows, mirrors, glass, chrome, stainless steel, plastic, and vinyl surfaces. For a streak-free shine, clean car windows when the surface is cool and out of direct sunlight whenever possible.What is the best thing to clean vinyl in a car? ›
To clean vinyl seats, use soap and water or a protectant. If using soap and water, make sure to use as little water as possible, and dry quickly so water doesn't soak through to the cushion or padding. Use a brush or toothbrush along seams to get into the pleats.Does vinyl wrap shine like paint? ›
They come in a wide range of colours, and look like paint once installed. Solid colours with no sparkles or flakes, they reflect a lot of light and make your car shine even on a gloomy day.How long does car polish last on a car? ›
How long do the results of polishing last? It depends on what protective coating is used. For a carnauba wax you're probably looking at two to three months depending on environmental conditions, ownership and wash routines. If you go for the expense of a ceramic sealant, that timeframe is significantly increased.How often should you wax or polish your car? ›
You should apply wax twice a year as a minimum – once in spring ahead of the summer temperatures, and once before winter to protect against rain, snow, salt and hail. If you want to keep your car protected further, we'd recommend waxing four times a year.Which car detailing brand is the best? ›
- 1 ADAM'S POLISHES Car Detailing Kit – Best Overall.
- 2 Chemical Guys Car Detailing Kit – Best High-End Kits.
- 3 Meguiar's Car Detailing Kit – Most Versatile.
- 4 THINKWORK Car Detailing Kit – Most Portable.
- 5 Armor All Car Detailing Kit – Also Consider.
Car detailers will start by thoroughly cleaning your vehicle. This is done to keep loose dirt from getting caught in the buffer and scratching your car. Following the washing, the detailer will use their rotary buffer to buff off the scratches with a cutting compound.What is the best color for dashboard? ›
Natural colors are generally better than bright or bold colors. Reserve bright or dark colors to highlight outliers or important calls to action. Also remember that each color in a data visualization should serve a purpose. Use different dashboard colors only when you're communicating different things.How can I clean my dashboard without scratching it? ›
The best thing to clean your car dashboard is:
- Vacuum with Attachment.
- Soft Microfiber Cloth.
- Water and Mild Soap.
- Toothbrush or Soft Paintbrush.
What wax does Jay Leno use? ›
Jay's Hand Wax goes on easy, hazes quickly, and the best of all – it wipes off even easier! Using a specific blend of high-grade carnauba wax along with synthetic polymers, we've designed this to be easily applied by hand or with a machine buffer.What do car detailers use to shine tires? ›
Tire dressings, also known as tire renovators, and protectants, also known as vinyl dressings, have the purpose of enhancing the appearance of rubber and plastic surfaces. . Basically, this is just a detailing product that helps to bring back the deep dark color of rubber on your tires.Can you wax a car too much? ›
No, waxing your car too much will not cause any issues, but it can be unnecessary. We recommended you protect your car with our ceramic wax. How often should I wax my car? As a rule of thumb, you want to wax your car every three months.Should I use Windex on car glass? ›
Yes, you can use Windex on car windows and to clean the inside of your windshield. While some will advise you to skip the Windex with tinted windows, there's no evidence that Windex with ammonia causes problems.What household items make your car shine? ›
- White vinegar. This home staple is a versatile multi-purpose cleaner and is great for many surfaces, including the exterior of your car and upholstery. ...
- Coconut oil. ...
- Corn starch. ...
- Toothpaste. ...
- Rubbing alcohol. ...
- Baking soda. ...
- Peanut butter. ...
- Cinnamon Christmas Scent.
Machine polishers such as rotary, orbital and dual-action polishers, are the clear winners at removing water spots, scratches and swirls. They are all capable of providing faster, more consistent results than when you hand polish cars.What happens if you dont wax your car after polishing? ›
For example, if you don't wax your car, you're just letting tiny scratches stick around and possibly exposing the paint to damage over time. Plus, not waxing your car means you're missing out on the chance to drive around in a car that looks shiny and brand new!Is ceramic car polish better? ›
Ceramic protectants (coatings) provide a much higher durability than wax. They resist heat, UV rays, environmental contaminants & harsh detergents much better than wax. Wax on the other hand simply sits on top of the paint's surface. It does not create the chemical bond like we find with ceramic coatings.What's the difference between polishing and buffing? ›
Polishing generates a brushed or lined finish, where buffing removes the lines and creates a bright luster finish. The process of buffing generally requires surface refinement polishing prior to buffing.What car wax do professionals use? ›
Our preferred wax is Carnauba wax, which is typically preferred among professional detailers. Waxes applied after vehicle detailing sits on top of the paint and help to create deeper hues in the paint with a liquid-like finish.
What is the longest lasting car wax? ›
Nothing leaves a longer-lasting glass-like shine than high-grade carnauba wax. Of all the different types of carnauba waxes, this is the best car wax for the longest-lasting finish and shine of a vehicle's exterior.What happens if you polish your car too much? ›
Polishes are abrasive and for that reason we recommend only polishing your car as needed because each time you polish, you're removing a layer of material. If you over-polish your car, you will eventually thin out the paint and in extreme cases can cut through the clearcoat and the paint right through to the undercoat!What is the most durable car polish? ›
Our pick for the best car polish is Meguiar's Ultimate Polish. It acts as a pre-wax glaze and helps produce a glossy, wet look, particularly on dark vehicles. It also removes minor defects. For a more budget-friendly option, consider Nu Finish Liquid Car Polish.Is it better to polish by hand or machine? ›
Machine polishers such as rotary, orbital and dual-action polishers, are the clear winners at removing water spots, scratches and swirls. They are all capable of providing faster, more consistent results than when you hand polish cars.Do you still need to wax after ceramic coating? ›
Ceramic coatings deliver incredible protection and durability to your car's finish, but they don't necessarily add the same eye-popping shine that you expect from a traditional car wax. That's why it's a great idea to wax your car intermittently even after you've protected it with a ceramic product.What are the 3 stages of polishing? ›
- stage – heavy defects removed by coarse abrasive compounds and pads.
- stage – machine polishing with a medium-strong cut compound to eliminate surface defects applied by 1st stage.
- stage – machine polishing, ultra-soft polish/compound this refining process produces a mirror reflection finish.
As a general rule of thumb, I use 1 pad per panel, which comes out to about 4-6 pads per car. This means if you are performing a two step polishing process, I will use 4-6 heavy correction pads and 4-6 light correction pads. I use each pad on the hood, trunk, front quarter panels, sides, and the rear quarter panels.How long should polish sit before buffing? ›
You can leave the polish on the shoe for anywhere between 20 minutes to overnight. The more time that the natural ingredients have to work into the leather and nourish it, the better.