If your car’s paint is looking a little tired, a polish will go a long way to giving it some much-needed shine – here’s our pick of the best car polish.
People often think that polish and wax are the same, but they aren’t. In detailing language, a polish is a product that contains abrasives which will remove fine swirls and marks. A wax, meanwhile, is the final protective layer you apply to get your car looking shiny.
There are many different kinds of polishes and cutting compounds, but here we are looking at gentler products. You’d normally use these after paint correction with something more aggressive to refine the finish. However, even used on their own, they will get noticeable results. All paint correction is best done with a dual-action polisher, but a bit of elbow grease on light blemishes will also work.
What is car polish?
Put simply, car polish contains tiny abrasives that aim to remove small blemishes in paintwork by effectively removing part of the top layer of your paintwork until the defect disappears. This is perfect for removing light scratches in paintwork, particularly those caused by wash mitts and towels spreading swirl marks into the paintwork.
There are different levels of car polish, some contain more abrasives than others. You would typically use a polish with a high volume of abrasives for more serious defects and as part of a paint correction process. For smaller, less obvious defects, a polish with fewer abrasives would be appropriate. The abrasives are measured in grits, so if a car polish has a higher number of grits, it’s designed for more serious defects.
Another point to make here is that to get the most out of car polish, you should be applying it with a machine buffer or polisher. This allows for a much higher RPM and thus easier to buff the paintwork and remove defects. This also means that you’ll need a compound pad for the polisher, here, again, there are different types for how serious defects are. These will often be referred to hard, medium or soft cutting compounds. Soft cutting compounds shouldn’t remove any paintwork and used for high-gloss finishes. Medium pads will cut a small amount of paintwork, while hard will be reserved for the worst problem areas on the car.
Best Car Polish In 2023
Meguiar’s Ultimate Car Polish
RRP: $10.99 / £17.56. Buy now.
Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish has been designed to deliver incredible gloss and shine. It uses rich polishing oils to add a deep, wet look to paint. Ultimate Polish will add depth of color and gives especially good results on dark-colored cars. It will remove fine swirl marks and light surface imperfections, refining your paint finish. I found it delivers stunning results. While it’s fine to apply by hand, it’s at its best when used with a dual-action polisher. As a final stage before applying wax, Ultimate Polish is fantastic.
Autoglym Super Resin Polish
Size: 325ml, 500ml, 1 liter
RRP: $23 / £15.95. Buy now.
Autoglym’s Super Resin Polish is quite possibly the company’s best-known product. It’s been around for a very long time so that clearly means it’s doing something right. In fact, it does just about everything right. SRP is very easy to use and gives excellent results, even when used by hand. Fine swirls and light abrasions are no match for SRP, and it’s incredibly versatile.
As well as containing abrasives, SRP contains fillers, meaning it will mask minor paintwork imperfections temporarily. What you don’t manage to polish out will be hidden, so it’s great for instantly improving your paint’s appearance. It also contains wax to add instant gloss and protection. If you’re looking for one product that does it all, Super Resin Polish is hard to beat.
Chemical Guys VSS Scratch and Swirl Remover
RRP: $19.97 / £20.49. Buy now.
Chemical Guys VSS Scratch and Swirl Remover is an excellent car polish that effectively removes scratches, swirls, and other imperfections from a car’s paint surface. Its advanced abrasive technology allows it to be gentle on the paint while effectively removing even deep scratches and swirls. The product is easy to use and can be applied by hand or with a machine polisher, leaving a high-gloss finish on the car’s surface. What’s more, the advanced formula contains polishing oils and protective agents that protect the paint surface from further damage while giving it a brilliant shine. This is a top-quality car polish that is highly recommended for anyone looking to restore the appearance of their car’s paint surface.
Auto Finesse Tripple
Size: 250ml, 500ml, 1 liter
RRP: $23.95 / £13.95. Buy now.
If you’re looking for an excellent all-in-one, Auto Finesse Tripple is a great choice. It will clean, refine and glaze your car’s paintwork in one go, giving great results. Diminishing abrasive technology helps to remove swirls and blemishes. Swirl-filling glaze agents instantly enhance the paint. Finally, T1-grade carnauba wax adds gloss and protection. It’s easy to work with and gives excellent results by hand or machine polisher. Tripple is a worthy addition to any detailer’s arsenal.
Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Car Polish & Wax
RRP: $16.99 / £14.93. Buy now.
Turtle Wax has been producing some excellent products recently, and this is one of them. Ceramic Polish & Wax combines a polish, wax and ceramic coating to deliver stunning results. Its precision platelet technology removes light swirls, scratches and oxidation, instantly enhancing your car’s paintwork. At the same time, it applies an ultra-hydrophobic SiO2 ceramic coating. This delivers long-lasting protection, incredible beading, and gorgeous shine. You can use it by hand or apply it with a machine for truly exceptional results. This is an excellent offering from Turtle Wax and well worth checking out.
How to know which car polish to buy
It’s important to remember that car polish contains abrasives. The abrasives are measured in grits, so the higher the number of grits, the more abrasive it is. As a result, the higher grit level products are reserved for more severe paint damage, such as deep scratches and other defects. Lower grit level products, like the products I’ve recommended above, are perfect for small, light scratches, like swirl marks.
Do I need a machine buffer to polish?
Yes and no. A machine buffer will certainly make the job easier, and because it can rotate much faster than your hand, you should get better results. That’s only if you’re using the correct method. But, that is another expense and we can appreciate those who want to detail their cars correctly without spending a fortune. With the products recommended above, you can get away with a bit of elbow grease. However, if you’re able to get your hands on a machine buffer, and know how to use it, opt for this method. It requires less effort and you’ll get better results.