The 10 Best Car Polishes
This wiki has been updated 12 times since it was first published in March of 2018. Whether you want to buff up your exotic supercar or have your daily driver looking its best, you'll need the right polish for the job. The elements are never kind to a car, and scratches can come from anywhere. So, to keep your vehicle at its best, we’ve ranked several formulas that remove or hide oxidation, abrasions, and more, for gleaming paint and an eye-catching appearance. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 08, 2021:
We still feel the same way about most of these selections, and in fact, some of them have been standards in the automotive world for years, such as Meguiar's Ultimate and Mothers California Gold 0710. Those are ideal choices for the gearhead who wants to really pamper their ride, as most users will want to follow them with a good waxing.
Alternatively, HD Speed All-Natural remains in the top spot because most consumers will appreciate an all-in-one option that leaves body panels and trim in nearly show quality. Another that's been around for a long time is Nu Finish Liquid, which is an especially good choice if you're not keen on actually spending hours polishing your vehicle. Finally, if you've already applied a good clear coat and want to add the finishing touches, Meguiar's Compound is one of the best choices around for quick touch-ups.
June 11, 2019:
A true car polish is made to do two things: clean away contaminants left behind by regular washing, and remove surface scratches and other imperfections. It will not necessarily add gloss or shine (although some certainly do), but it can prepare the vehicle’s surface for a protective coating and allow that to bond better to the paint. As these products evolve over time, however, many of them are now also capable of covering up imperfections (rather than actually removing them).
All of the products ranked here will improve the appearance of your car's finish; however, some will function quite differently from others. For instance, a true polish like Poorboy's will repair damage to the paint for a long-lasting improvement, while one like Meguiar's Ultimate will eventually wash away, leaving the finish looking like it did before. However, the latter will be much easier to apply by hand and provide more impressive results.
If you don’t have access to a dual-action polisher machine, check out products like Dodo Juice or NuFinish, which can by easily applied by hand. Those new to the task of car polishing should consider HD Speed, as it contains a milder formula that’s less likely to damage your paint if it’s used too roughly. If you’re short on time but are determined to get good results, look to Zymol Original, which contains a protective coating – so you won’t have to apply one separately later.
Each of the products on our list has a proven track record and won’t disappoint. However, as you can see, there are many different types of polishes, so be sure to determine which is right for your vehicle’s needs.
For safety’s sake, when using any of these products, be sure to follow the instructions on the label, which may include wearing protective gear for your hands and face.