Most people know about a basic car wash and wax, but true car lovers know detailing goes much further: Buying car polish will help keep your paint job looking impeccable.
Car wax and polish aren’t the same product (and neither is a), despite the tendency to use the term interchangeably at times, and car polishes have their own benefits for your car’s paint job. So, dive into our best car polish picks and read on afterward for tips on how to successfully polish your car.
We’ve talked about 3D’s products before, and they seriously do just as the bottle says. If you’re looking for the best polish on the market for your car’s paintwork and to save time, the company’s Speed All In One Car Polish & Wax is your one-stop-shop. The product applies easily with a clear coat and leaves stupendous results behind. We like saving time and surely you do, too. So, grab a bottle — you’ll thank us later.
Just inched out in overall usability by the 3D product, Chemical Guys’ All-in-One Polish and Sealant is still one heck of a product. Again, it saves a ton of time by combining car care steps, and we were impressed with the results it delivered on car paint. It’s a bit cheaper than 3D’s polish, too, so that’s an added bonus.
While a couple other car polishes provide better results on a car’s paint surface and combine detailing steps to save on elbow grease, you cannot overlook Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish. It’s a staple in so many car-detailing arsenals for a reason: It works, and it works really darn well. Ultimate Polish is simple for beginners to use and not fret about poor results, though you will need to apply a coat of car wax when finished. Still, the paintwork results will floor you.
While Meguiar’s beats the Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Polish and Wax on price, you shouldn’t count it out. Turtle Wax’s product is a two-in-one solution like some of our other picks, and that’s a bonus in its own right. We found the polish returns very lovely clear-coat results on the car’s surface, and this does a wonderful job for the money if you don’t want to splurge on a pricier pick.
You may notice nothing about this bottle says it’s for black cars. That’s OK because if you own a black car, you likely want something that’s no-nonsense and works a little tougher. Adam’s One Step Polish is exactly that: In our testing it seemed to cut a little more, and if you have paint surface imperfections like swirl marks or light scratches on black paint, this is what you want. This is not a polish-and-wax product, so follow this up with a nice coat of car wax. After that, your black paint job will have amazing depth.
Just like our first pick for black cars, this isn’t specifically formulated for black cars — and that’s OK. Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Ultra Finishing Polish is a little more heavy-duty, which is good for a black car with swirl marks and other paint defects and imperfections. After application, layer a coat of carnauba wax (or spray wax) on your vehicle and enjoy the fantastic results.
So, you want to polish your car’s paint job like a pro. We hear you. This product is not for beginners, as we found it takes a little longer to buff in and leave behind the desired finish. But when it does — wow, the results are fantastic. Any of our other top polish picks will serve most people well, but 3M has quite the product if you want to kick it up a notch.
Comparison of the best car polish for 2022
|Best car polish overall||3D||Speed All In One Polish and Wax||$25|
|Best car polish overall runner-up||Chemical Guys||All In One Polish and Sealant||$18|
|Best affordable car polish||Meguiar’s||Ultimate Polish||$14|
|Best affordable car polish runner-up||Turtle Wax||Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Polish and Wax||$17|
|Best car polish for black cars||Adam’s||One Step Polish||$20|
|Best car polish for black cars runner-up||Meguiar’s||Mirror Glaze Ultra Finishing Polish||$27|
|Best car polish for professionals||3M||Perfect-It Machine Polish||$57|
Car polishing tips
- Polish is made for polishers: Applying polish by hand with an applicator pad or microfiber towel may help a bit, but you need to use a random-orbital or dual-action polisher to see true results.
- Pick the right polishing pad: There are many kinds of buffing pads for car polishing machines and polishing compounds. Some produce a heavier cut on a vehicle’s paint, while others are lighter. Make sure you choose the best polishing pad for the job at hand.
- Take it slow: Not all polishes are created equal, and some can take longer to buff in for that glossy finish. Work in small areas: Never try to tackle the whole car all at once.
- Test the product: Always, always, always test polish in an area you won’t see at first. You want to make sure you have the right product for your car.
- One-step polishes require wax afterward: The whole point of polish is to fill in imperfections and create a lovely surface for wax to cover. Polish will bring out a car’s shine and depth, but you still need wax to protect the finish. Or you can be like us and apply wax no matter what product is used.
Keep calm and polish on
With all of this, you’re prepped for success to polish your car’s paint. Remember, take it slow: Car detailing isn’t about speed, and you’ll be rewarded with stunning results when you finish. CNET Cars approves of clean cars, so keep yours in top shape with these best car polish picks.