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10 Best Car Polishes [Buying Guide]

The Top Car Polish to Keep Your Paint Looking Stellar

Best Overall Choice

Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish

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Best Budget Choice

Nu Finish Liquid Car Polish

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Best Premium Choice

HD High Definition Speed All-in-One Polish

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best car polishes

It’s amazing just how many brands of car polish you can find on the shelves when you go to your local department store or automotive supply store. On Amazon, there are literally thousands of different kinds of car polish to choose from. So how do you know how to pick the best car polishes? The key to choosing the right car polish for your needs is to educate yourself on how these compounds work and become familiar with the contents of the polish. It is also wise to buy from the most reputable brands. With these top polishes, you can be sure to keep your car in top condition.

The Best Car Polishes on The Market

Below are some of the best car polishes available for sale today. As you’ll see, most of these are meant more for enthusiasts and are non-abrasive. However, we also included some professional-grade products as well. In considering what makes the best car polish, we considered several factors include reputable branding, contents and the quality of those contents, positive customer reviews, safety of use/safety of materials, cost, and overall value. Keep reading to find the perfect car polish for you!

Best Overall Choice

1. Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish

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This is a great all-in-one polish for enthusiasts looking for a safe and quick way to make their vehicle look amazing. Meguiar’s is one of the most well-known brands for car cleaning and exterior detailing.

This pre-waxing polish gives the car’s exterior deep reflection and creates an amazing glossy look. It’s loaded with oils that add color depth and condition the exterior of your ride easily and safely. It’s a quick way to remove towel marks and watermarks, as well as swirls to make your car shine so much that you can see your own reflection.

It’s safe to use on all types of surfaces and colors (this product is great for cars with dark-colored paint). It can be applied by hand or a dual action polisher. If you’re new to the car care game, you can polish your car with this car polish without being too worried about making a mistake.

Best Budget Choice

2. Nu Finish Liquid Car Polish

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Nu Finish’s liquid car polish is one of the most popular and well-known car polishes. It is more of a general tonic for your vehicle’s exterior than a real polish and is not abrasive, either. Many enthusiasts use Nu Finish car polish as a protectant instead of actual paint defect repair.

Nu Finish liquid car polish has been around for years. This polish has tons of great reviews by enthusiasts many of whom remark on its durability, protection, and gloss capabilities. And Nu Finish claims that this polish can keep your car in great condition with only one application per year — great news for people who don’t enjoy spending a ton of time on car detailing.

Nu Finish does not require any rubbing or buffing. Simply apply using light pressure with a clean, damp cloth or buffer. Let dry to a haze and then wipe clean with a clean cloth. It is even safe to apply this polish in direct sunlight.

Best Premium Choice

3. HD High Definition Speed All-in-One Polish

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Similar to the last few products, this is another great all-in-one combo that is suitable for the average person’s needs. HD Speed All-in-One though a little pricier than similar brands/products, overall has positive reviews and seems worth the extra few dollars.

Surprisingly, High Definition’s car polish is made of all-natural contents that are safe to use on all colors and surfaces. It’s rare to find a product this effective that does not contain some kind of harsh or toxic chemicals. This product is designed to be applied and taken off as quickly and easily as possible.

The Speed All-in-One formula is made to repair minor paint defects via corrections to the top coat. It can be used on vehicles with bad swirls to drastically reduce or eliminate these visual defects. Not only does it correct some defects, but it also contains a glaze and special car wax that intensifies color and creates a smooth shine. To top it all off, it also applies a sealant to protect your vehicle’s paint from UV rays and oxidation.

4. Griot’s Garage Complete Polish

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If you’re looking for a simple but effective polish without the need to buy any fancy polishing equipment, Griot’s Garage Complete polish is a great option. This car polish uses advanced sub-micron abrasives to remove mild imperfections in your vehicle’s finish. On top of its corrective properties, it is able to deliver paint refinement and depth of color while also enhancing the vehicle’s gloss. It also creates a very smooth surface that’s ready for wax or a sealant of your choosing.

Griot’s Garage Complete Polish was made to be applied by hand versus a rotary polisher. Applying the polish manually ensures that you do not take off too much of the car’s finish.

To apply, simply squirt a little polish onto an applicator pad and apply to a two-foot square section of the car. Make a pass and a half, wipe off the excess polish with a finishing towel, and you’re done and ready to seal or wax!

5. Turtle Wax Color Magic Jet Black

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Turtle Wax’s Color Magic Jet Black polish is hands down the best easy-applying polish available. While this polish certainly isn’t for every car, anyone who drives a vehicle with a black finish should have a bottle of this in their garage.

Jet Black was formulated to enhance all types of black automotive finishes, whether they are faded, neglected, or just plain old while also filling in scratches, rock chips, or other defects. This is also a great polish to remove light swirl marks as well.

This is one of the most affordable and effective polishes on the market and consists of a blend of advanced polishes, dyes, and pigments that will keep your ride looking slick. This product is also very easy to use. Simply add a small amount to a rag or sponge and apply it to the vehicle’s exterior. Let the polish dry into a haze, then buff lightly.

6. Shine Armor Scratch And Swirl Remover Polish

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If you’re looking for oxidation, scratch, or swirl removing polish to help restore a scratched or fading paint job, this option from Shine Armor is a nice middle ground between a full-blown cutting polish and a spray-and-shine polish.

This effective formula has detail-grade compounds to help correct paint and can safely be applied by hand. It does not contain any fillers or waxes and will correct scratches and swirls while restoring shine to your paint.

You can apply the polish by hand using a clean cloth or applicator pad. There should be no smearing or streaking, and you don’t have to worry about any damage to your paint.

7. Chemical Guys Optical Grade Cutting Polish

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For the car detailing enthusiasts, this optical-grade cutting polish from Chemical Guys takes your polishing game to the next level. Designed to be used with a rotary or orbital polisher, this cutting polish will make your car shine like new.

That being said, you do need to know what you are doing when using this ultra-refined cutting polish in order to get that perfect swirl-free finish. It can remove moderate to heavy paint defects and imperfections, but it can also damage your topcoat if you get a bit too heavy-handed.

This high-quality polish is powder-free, dust-free, and formulated for extended work time. Designed to give you a perfect finish with fewer passes, it’s specifically formulated to work with water-based paints and ceramic clear coats. Be sure you pair it with a high-quality orbital polisher for the best results.

8. The Last Coat Premium Car Polish

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With this easy-to-use spray polish, you can clean, shine, and protect with an easy application. To apply, simply spray on a clean microfiber towel, wipe onto your car’s exterior, and then buff with another cloth for a high gloss shine.

Designed to both protect your car’s paint from the elements and give you a shiny finish, this specifically formulated polish is safe to use on paint and can even help cover up light surface abrasions. If you’re looking for a quick, all-in-one polish with easy application, this should do the trick.

9. CarGuys Premium Hybrid Wax

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This product falls under the car wax category but is definitely more of an all-in-one solution for enthusiasts looking for a great shine before a show. So even though this isn’t technically much of a polish, it will provide the results that many of you are probably looking for! However, it does have polishing properties in the sense that it’s capable of correcting defects towards the surface of the top coat like many other polishes do.

CarGuys boasts the ability of their Premium Hybrid to be very quickly applied without streaking or leaving your exterior white or cloudy. These are common problems for all-in-one polishes and waxes. Wax typically needs to be buffed out which can be a time-consuming job. However, with this product, you’re able to do it in a jiffy.

The technology of the Hybrid is supposed to get to work down at the molecular level to create a great shine and smooth surface for a quick facelift that lasts surprisingly longer than most similar products. It’s also safe to use on any type of surface.

10. Meguiar’s PlastX Clear Plastic Cleaner and Polish

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Although this isn’t your traditional type of exterior polish, it’s definitely worth mentioning since you’re going to want the entire outside of your vehicle glistening versus only part of it. Meguiar’s PlastX is a high-quality cleaner and polisher for clear plastic surfaces such as your headlights, tail lights, brake lights, and fog lights.

These surfaces (especially on the front end of the vehicle) are constantly exposed to heavy contaminants such as dirt, grime, rocks, and those pesky juices from bugs smacking into your vehicle. Over time, these plastic surfaces are likely to develop a yellowish tint from these contaminants, appearing cloudy/foggy. PlastX Cleaner and Polish is the perfect solution to this problem.

PlastX uses microscopic diminishing abrasive technology to remove contamination to the surface of clear plastics, while also removing light scratches, signs of chemical degradation, and oxidation. The gel-like cleaning and polishing solution is extremely quick and easy to apply in a one-step process. PlastX also contains vital conditioning oils that restore optical visibility. It also contains water-resistant properties that make the results last for months.

Meguiar’s PlastX does not contain any harsh solvents and is safe to use on almost any type of clear polymer-like surface. This product, which is available for less than $10, is a no-brainer addition to your car cleaning arsenal of supplies.

Get The Best Car Polishes For The Best Results

So there you have it! A list of the most useful car polishes on the market. Almost any vehicle can benefit from a good car polishing, and it should become a regular part of your car maintenance routine. The bottom line? If you’re going to polish a car, polish a car with one of these products! And be sure to read up on how to properly buff your car and our other car detailing tips and pointers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does car polish do?

Polishing is simply one of the steps to a multi-stage exterior cleaning and finishing process. Car polish sometimes applies to a broad spectrum of products, but true exterior polish is a compound or solution made to correct or mask defects to the vehicle’s paint job, while also enhancing the gloss on the surface of the paint job.

Polishing is just one of the steps and one of the solutions used to fully restore a beautiful car paint job. There are many other steps and chemical compounds that can aid in the process of achieving an amazing finish such as chemical paint cleaners, glazes, waxes, and more!

Why should you use car polish?

The most common reason to use car polish is to preserve the appearance of a brand new vehicle. Additionally, depending on the type of car polish you purchase, a polish can also be used to correct small water spots, scratches, or swirl marks in your paint.

When should you use car polish?

This will depend on the type of car polish you purchase, but typically car polish isn’t meant to be used on a regular basis. Read the product information to see what is recommended by the manufacturer.

Some enthusiasts will use a polish/wax combination a couple of times a year to give their car a little facelift. If the all-in-one solution offers a protective layer, you can use it three to four times per year.

However, if the paint does not have any defects, it may be best just to skip the polishing step and go straight to a sealant, gloss, wax, or other protecting coat depending on your needs.

What type of car polish should you use?

There are several different types of car polishes available on the market. Some car care polishes are meant to correct the defects in the clear coat (and typically aren’t very abrasive at all). These types of polish are often referred to as “enthusiast grade” polishes. Most of the time, an enthusiast-grade polish which is not as abrasive and can often be applied by hand will do the job just fine.

Some enthusiast-grade polishes are combined with a glaze or specialist car wax to offer an all-in-one solution. These types of car polishes are best for those without any serious paint defects that are simply looking to make their car shine and really stand out after a good car wash/cleaning. Car polish itself does not make a vehicle shine, but many of these all-in-one solutions that combine a wax or glaze are made to bring out the color more and give it a good shine at the same time.

On the other hand, some polishes are actually meant to be used on the paint and are labeled “professional grade.” These polishes tend to be more abrasive and will often require the use of an orbital polisher for proper application. If at any point you have a paint defect you don’t feel comfortable trying to correct at home with polish, you can always take your car to a professional detailer.

Can I wax my car without polishing?

Yes, you can wax or seal your car without polishing it. Just remember that if you have scratches or swirls, a car polish is your best bet to correct these paint imperfections prior to applying a wax or sealant. If your paint is in good shape, you shouldn’t need to worry about polishing before waxing or you can opt to use an all-in-one product.

Does car polish damage paint?

Some car polishes do contain mild abrasives or polymer blends to help buff out scratches and imperfections. If used improperly, it is possible that the polish can eventually scrape off the clear coat and into the paint. Be sure to read all the instructions on how to apply your car polish and how frequently to use it.

About Kristen Arendt

Kristen is a writer and editor based in Colorado. She came to motorsports by way of her husband's passion for track days, autocross, and fast cars and is now the proud co-driver of two E36 325s and an overland-in-the-making Lexus GX470. She is a volunteer driving instructor with the BMW CCA Rocky Mountain Chapter and enjoys any event that involves getting behind the wheel or navigating from the passenger's seat.

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