Although most people realize that a good car wax allows their vehicle to look the best, fewer people realize that they need to use a high-quality car polish before they wax their cars. Polishing the car first allows the car owner to not only remove dirt and grime from their car’s paint but can also remove scrapes and scratches that can’t be removed during the washing their car.

Finding a good car polish isn’t always easy, however. There are a number of products out there that masquerade as polish but are really nothing more than a glorified vehicle wax. That’s why we’ve taken it upon ourselves to list our top ten favorite polishes, so car owners can find the one that fits their vehicles needs. Okay, let’s get right down to it and check out the best vehicle polishes currently available.

Best Car Polishes – Reviews & Buying Guide

10Chemical Guys All-In-One

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This silicone-free all-in-one polish is designed to remove swirls, scratches and water spots easily from just about any color car. It can be used with virtually any rotary polishing machine and produces some very good results, even though some projects may require more than one application to achieve great results. This product can be used as a final step in any car care regimen and leaves the vehicle with a beautiful shine every time it’s used. And best of all, it provides a good protection layer against the elements when the car owner has finished applying it and buffing it out.

Pros:

  • Remove scratches and water spots well
  • Works for any color paint
  • Is an all-in-one product

Cons:

  • May have to use more than one application to get great results for some projects

9Chemical Guys Optical Grade Kit

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This kit from Chemical Guys combines two great auto polishes that anyone can use to shine up their vehicle and remove moderate paint imperfections. It comes with V36 Cutting Polish which removes heavier paint defects, swirls, and 2,000-grit sandpaper scratches. It also comes with V38 Final Polish that can remove 3,000-grit sandpaper scratches, holograms, and removes some lighter paint defects. When both of these products are used together with either a dual action or rotary machine, it produces some pretty good results. Although it may require a little bit of extra work to remove when buffing is done, it still produces a nice shine.

Pros:

  • Can be used with either a dual-action or rotary machine
  • Creates a swirl-free finish
  • Delivers good results on moderate paint imperfections

Cons:

  • Requires a lot of work to remove

8Nu Finish Liquid Polish

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This Nu Finish Liquid Polish has received high marks from some consumer magazines, and it’s easy to see why that’s the case. This product goes on smoothly and doesn’t require a whole lot of heavy rubbing or buffing to properly work. In fact, it’s so easy to apply it’s easy to forget that you’re even polishing the car. Another remarkable thing about this product is that it can be used in either shade or partial sunlight without any negative side effects. Although the user does have to be careful to cover the black plastic parts of their vehicle before they use this product, it’s still an inexpensive polish to consider.

Pros:

  • Easy to apply to car
  • Easy to buff out
  • Is an inexpensive product
  • Can be used on fiberglass cars, boats, and motorcycles

Cons:

  • Shine doesn’t last as long as it should
  • Leaves a white residue on black plastic parts

7Meguiar’s G19220 Ultimate Polish

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This product is designed to be safe for all vehicle paint colors, including white and clear coat paints. When used on darker color cars, it seems to add a depth that other waxes don’t seem to produce. Although this product does require a lot of work to use, mainly because it dries so quickly, it still produces a rich, glossy shine that’s pretty close to being perfect. It can even produce somewhat of a mirror-like reflection on black or deep red cars. This product is probably best applied using a dual-action polisher, but the label does state that it can also be applied by hand.

Pros:

  • Safe for all color paint
  • Deepens dark colors
  • Isn’t very expensive
  • Produces a brilliant shine

Cons:

  • Requires a lot of work to use

6Meguiar’s M20508 Mirror Glaze

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This polish is designed to not only remove light defects, swirls and scratches from auto paint, but is also designed to create a nice shine. And on all of those points, this auto polish does a good job. It produces an extremely high-gloss that does indeed produce a mirror glaze, particularly on darker vehicles. It also produces a nice smooth finish, when it’s properly applied and removed. This product can be applied using either a dual-action polisher, a rotary buffer or by hand. However, if applying by hand, it’s going to take a lot of work to get this product off correctly.

Pros:

  • Produces a mirror finish
  • Produces a brilliant shine
  • Removes scratches and light defects from paint
  • Produces swirl-free results

Cons:

  • Requires a lot of work to use
  • Is a tad bit expensive

5Flitz Polish & Paint Restorer Paste

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Not only is this automobile polish easy to apply and easy to remove, but it also produces a very nice shine. This product also does a good job at removing rust, tarnish, water stains and scuff marks from not only automobile paint but from a variety of different surfaces. All of which means that this product is one of the more versatile polishes currently sold. It can be used on automobiles, motorcycles, boats and even fiberglass airplanes if the need ever arises. This creamy formula comes in a quart can that keeps the contents fresh until it’s ready to use.

Pros:

  • Produces a brilliant shine
  • Can be used on vehicles, motorcycles, & boats
  • Easy to use
  • Removes scratches & paint defects

Cons:

  • Product is expensive

4Mothers 07102 California Gold

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Mother’s California Gold Pure Polish is a product that is designed to restore shine and color to just about any vehicle’s paint. It can remove micro-scratches, water spots, and oxidation, out of just about any clearcoat or paint. Although it may not be a strong enough formula to clean up the paint on older vehicles, it does do a great job on newer model vehicles. Another positive thing about this product is that it only has to be used once or twice a year, so its one-gallon container should last most users a long time. And since this product can be applied by hand, or with a dual-action or rotary polisher, it’s very easy to use.

Pros:

  • Produces a brilliant shine
  • Easy to use
  • Removes scratches & water spots
  • Good for all clear coat and paint colors

Cons:

  • May not cleanup older paint jobs

3Car Guys Hybrid Polish & Sealer

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This product isn’t designed to be the same type of polish most people are used to using. Which simply means that it does require a lot of buffing to use. Using this product, all the car owner has to do is to spray it on and wipe it off. Of course, it may not perform well on vehicles that have a lot of paint or clear coat imperfections, but for most newer cars it gets the job done without a whole lot of fuss. It’s capable of producing a nice deep shine on most vehicles within 15-minutes, and since it’s self-sealing, that shine will last a nice long time.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use
  • Produces a nice shine
  • Can be used quickly
  • This product is both a polish & sealant

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work well for paint jobs that need a lot of TLC

2HD Speed All-In-One Polish

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HD Speed is an all-in-one product that not only works as an automobile polish but is also designed to work as a sealant as well. It goes on quite easily and comes off just as easily, so the automobile owner can do their car in 20-minutes or less. Because it’s an all-in-one product, it may not remove some of the larger imperfections found on older vehicles. However, for most cars that don’t have a lot of clear coat or paint imperfections, it does a great job at removing minor imperfections. When used properly, this product leaves a high-gloss surface and restores depth and color to the vehicle at the same time.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use
  • The product is an all-in-one
  • Non-toxic formula
  • Easy-to-remove

Cons:

  • May not remove large imperfections

13M 06064 Perfect-It Machine Polish

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When some car owners want to get professional polishing results, they often turn to this 3M polish. It’s designed to remove compound swirl marks, paint imperfections and to leave the vehicle with a silky smooth finish. And it does all of these things easily, without the user have to spend a lot of time trying to get their vehicle just right. It’s formulated so that it doesn’t cling and is easy to clean up. It’s suitable for just about all paint surfaces, even darker colored surfaces, and will leave the car with a showroom finish that few other polished can replicate. Professional results demand a professional polish, and this one is such a polish.

Pros:

  • Removes surface imperfections well
  • Really pulls out the shine
  • Easy-to-use
  • This product provides professional results
  • This product is suitable for all paint colors

Cons:

  • The product is a bit expensive

More products also worth checking out:

How to Polish a Car

A lot of people wash their car on a regular basis. Fewer people wax their vehicles, and fewer people still take the time to wash, polish and wax their vehicles. And this is really a shame because polishing your car can really bring it back to its former glory. Although some people don’t realize that they need to polish their cars, at least once in a while, there are probably some people who are intimidated by the whole polishing process. If that is indeed the case, then those people are going to want to read this guide because we’re going to detail how to polish a car so well it almost looks like it just rolled out of the showroom. Let’s get right down to it and jump right into this car polishing guide.

Step One: Preparation

Before you begin, it’s important to gather together all of your supplies. Some of the items that are going to be needed for this process include the following:

  • Running hose or wash bucket with water
  • Car wash soap
  • Auto polish
  • Auto finishing polish
  • Orbital sander
  • Foam polishing pad
  • Car washing sponge
  • Several microfiber towels

Step Two: Wash The Car

The first thing that needs to be done is to wash the car being polished. The car needs to be hand-washed while it’s in the shade using clean water and high-quality car shampoo. And it has to be washed the day it’s polished. It doesn’t matter if the vehicle was washed a week ago or yesterday, if it hasn’t been washed before the polishing process, then you need to wash it now. Once the vehicle has been washed, don’t dry it. Instead, move on to the next step.

Step Three: Begin Polishing

Apply high-quality polishing compound (like one of the top ones we listed) on one body panel and then equip your polishing wheel with a damp pad. Now spread the polish across the surface of the body panel with your polishing wheel placed on medium speed. Always make sure to keep the pad parallel to the vehicle’s surface at all time; This will help prevent swirl marks from developing. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you use constant pressure as you work the compound back and forth over the surface of the vehicle’s panel. Eventually, the surface will begin to warm up, and the visible scratches will begin to fade. Once the scratches are done, move on to another panel and begin the process again.

Step Four: Finish Polishing & Rewash

It’s important to make sure to stop every once in a while and hose off the applicator pad with your hose to prevent the excess polishing compound from building up on it. Once the entire vehicle has been adequately polished, the vehicle should once again be hand-washed. Now, it’s time to everything off of the vehicle and hand dry it.

Step Five: Wax the Car

It’s absolutely essential that a coat of wax is applied to the paint after the vehicle has been washed, polished, and rewashed. Using high-quality wax will not only protect the car’s paint job, but it will help to conceal some of the remaining imperfections that may still exist. The car can be waxed using an orbital sander mounted with a soft foam pad and approximately a 60/40 mix of paste wax and finishing polish. All that has to be done is to apply this mixture to the orbital sander’s pad and then apply it to the vehicle using back and forth motions. Make sure to keep the sander on medium speed during the whole application process. While waxing, it’s important to use light but even pressure. You’re done when most of the wax is gone except for a waxy haze that is visible when it has fully dried.

Step Six: Remove Excess Wax

Now it’s time to remove the wax. For this process, it’s important to not use anything other than a microfiber towel that’s made exclusively for auto detailing. If old towels, rags or washcloths are used, then it could easily scratch or mar the vehicle’s surface. If there are any remaining scratches that didn’t come out during the polishing process, then now is the time to apply any touch-up paint that may be needed.