Best Car Polishes: Shine Factory

Vivek Nayyar
by Vivek Nayyar

Top 8 Best Car Polishes

Yes, yes – we’ve talked about this subject and the related topic of ceramic coatings in the past. We promise we’re not repeating ourselves, at least not until we’re safely ensconced in the Old Age Home for Recovering Gearheads. We’ll be in the wing where they keep folks who had an odd affinity for terrible ’90s GM cars, like the Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo.

Compared to a ceramic coating, polishes are a lot easier to apply, taking less effort and fewer steps. One shouldn’t slap this stuff on their car in direct sunlight – that goes for most of the car washing process, by the way – but it is certainly possible to spend a lazy afternoon treating your car to one of these polishes in the shade of a tree. Those with more motivation will get the job done far more quickly.

We’ll see you in the old age home.

Table of Contents

1. Editor's Choice: Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze

This brand is familiar to anyone who's ever been near a collector car show or the old Spike TV Powerblock of weekend programming. Its intent is to simply restore a deep shine to the car's paint; think the 'wet' look that's prized by some gearheads.

At just 16 fluid ounces, this isn't the biggest bottle of polish in the world but should be more than enough to get you and your car through the summer. The label says it's safe on all painted surfaces and, most importantly, does not dry white - a common carp about other wax and polish products.


  • Solid name, great reviews from 500+ buyers


  • Small(ish) bottle

Bottom Line

  • Take one to the next car show

2. Chemical Guys Butter Wet Wax

So you thought butter was just for your toast at breakfast, huh? The crew at Chemical Guys market this product as 100 percent carnauba-based wax, able to provide a deep wet look to any paintwork. They promote a special blend of polymer resins that enhance and protect your car's color.

Carnauba wax creates a protective layer that repels water, explaining why a car with good polish doesn't have water spots after a quite rinse at the U-Wash (pro tip: use those facilities carefully lest you simply end up paying five bucks for a paint scratching). To apply this 'butter', simply apply a thin coat to the paint surface using a good microfiber towel or foam applicator. Buff it off with a different microfiber towel ... also available through the seller, of course.


  • Easy to apply, contains the word 'butter'


  • Doesn't contain any actual butter

Bottom Line

  • Over 3,200 gearheads can't be wrong

3. Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover

The too-cute name of Carfidant aside, this well-priced and highly-reviewed car polish seems to have won plenty of fans according to feedback provided by nearly 10,000 customers. This kit, which includes an applicator pad, alleges to fix light scratches or swirls so long as you pay attention and read the instructions.

In addition to removing swirls and scratches, this product is said to restore the gloss and shine of your car's paint. The special rubbing compound will remove water spots, oxidation, and other contaminants. It's easily buffed out by hand using the included buffer pad.


  • Causes small scratches to vanish, barrels of positive feedback


  • Only 8.4 oz size

Bottom Line

  • Made in America *waves flag*

4. Shine Armor Fortify Quick Coat

This stuff has popped up in a previous list but it’s good enough to profile again. Your author is generally suspicious of products marketing themselves as ‘all-in-one’, as this moniker generally means the stuff is good at everything but great at nothing. This remains, however so does the solid 4.3 out of 5-star rating from nearly 50,000 souls. That's a huge sample size.

The seller calls it a hydrophobic spray that provides a waterless wash, coat, and shine … all in one convenient product, of course. They assert that it also works as a sealer to give your vehicle a clear shield of protection while also providing a snazzy gloss. It is said to banish the 3 S's - streaks, smears, and scratches.


  • One product to rule them all - allegedly


  • Small bottle size

Bottom Line

  • An all-day spray

5. Nu Finish Car Polish

If you’ve watched any sort of Saturday morning car programs, you’ve definitely seen this stuff being hawked on television. Billed as the ‘Once-A-Year’ car polish, this kit includes a 16oz bottle of car polish and a reusable microfiber cloth (hilariously, the seller notes 'color may vary' in terms of the cloth, so don't get yer hopes up for the aqua thing shown here).

The company claims, as you may remember from the ads, that this product will safeguard your car’s finish even after 52 automatic car washes (therein lies the once-a-year claim). We’re less sure about the junked car to which they applied this stuff in those famous advertisements, though.


  • Been around forever, you won't lose this brightly colored bottle


  • Claims of messing up plastic surfaces

Bottom Line

  • Don't take your car through 52 automatic washes

6. Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Polish and Wax

You knew Turtle Wax was going to pop up on this list at some point, right? Given their longevity and expertise in the market, not doing so would be like leaving America out of the Top Ten places in which to get a burger.

This stuff will paint correct, polish, and wax your vehicle's finish in one step. It removes swirls, scratches, and oxidation thanks to a Turtle Wax blend of polishing agents. Hydrophobic (such a great word) and other polymers provide an extreme water beading action, such that you might go for a drive in the rain just for the heck of it.


  • Extreme (extreme!) water beading, apparently has a nice odor


  • The conundrum of all-in-one

Bottom Line

  • It's Turtle Wax

7. Adam’s CS3 Clean, Shine, Protect

Adam’s Polishes have, in a relatively short amount of time compared to long-standing brands like Meguiar's or Turtle Wax, been able to work their way into the nation’s wash bays and detail centers. We highlighted this product on another list and feel it deserves a place here, too.

This is a polish that combines a waterless wash & car wax spray, coat and shine polish, and water-based ceramic coating hydrophobic spray all in one product. Infused with fancy-sounding ceramic nano-coating silica technology, it acts as a sealer and armor to create a shiny finish.


  • Safe on many surfaces (wheels, glass, chrome, metal)


  • Generally sold in a small bottle

Bottom Line

  • Get the 16oz or gallon jug ya cheapskate

8. Liqui Tech Finish First Auto Polish

Remember when car polishes used to be shipped in metal cans with a red stopper on top? If there were a prize for Most Retro Polish, at least in terms of container appearance, it'd be this stuff from Liqui Tech.

Unlike just about everything else on this list, the Finish First product actually contains no wax, silicone, or Teflon. It apparently works by laying down a tough polymer film onto the surface of the automotive paint, conferring a deep and rich gloss.


  • A pure polish without wax, actual replies from company reps in the comments


  • Don't mistake this can for your flask

Bottom Line

  • Promises dazzling results with 'minimal effort'


Which is the best polish for cars?

Although you can choose any car polish or seek a recommendation from your car dealer, some best-rated products with a decent number of positive reviews on Amazon are listed below:

3D Speed Car Polish & Wax ( Buy here!)

This one is multipurpose because it works as both polish and wax to give your car a shiny look and prevents its paint from future minor damages or getting dull.

Chemical Guys Gap_106 ( Buy here!)

The company claims that this all-in-one product makes your car as shiny as new by removing minor key scratches, swirl marks, and other imperfections from its paint.

What is better: Wax or polish for cars?

To be honest, the two cannot be compared as their purposes and time of application vary. To understand what car polish and wax are used for, you can go through their characteristics which are as follows:

Car Polish

Car polish is mostly used to hide corrosions and minor scratches and to blend the paint with the nearby regions. This makes the car body look fresh and seamless regardless of the inconsistencies that the paintwork may have.


On the other hand, wax is applied on top of the car polish as a final treatment. Wax gives the paint a shinier look, thus making your car appear more glossy and as fresh as new.

Simply put, you apply car polish to:

Hide blemishes and minor scratches

Make the paintwork of the vehicle appear seamless

As for wax, you apply it to:

Form a protective coating for the paint and polish

Make the body of the car appear more glossy

Prevent the paintwork from future swirls and minor damages

How can I make my car super shiny?

A couple of steps are involved in making your car look super shiny. The process is as follows:


The first thing that you should do is, clean the car. Use a good-quality car shampoo that is gentle on the paint to wash your vehicle as thoroughly as you possibly can.


If your car has minor scratches or blemishes, get them repaired either by visiting an authorized service center or using some DIY treatment. You must also fix the dents to make the surface of the car even.


Once the paintwork is done and the vehicle’s body looks seamless, grab a good-quality polish and apply it on your car to give it a clean look.


Make sure to apply wax on your car paint. It will not only make your vehicle look glossy but it will also work as a protective coating for the polish and prevent the paint from future swirls and minor scratches.

Other Important Aspects

In addition to working on the body of your car, do not forget to clean the glasses that it has. For instance, you must use a good glass cleaner and a microfiber cloth to clean the windshield and window and rear glasses to make the overall appearance of your vehicle super shiny.

Additional Treatment (Tires)

If you want to be extremely meticulous, you can also clean the tires of your car with fresh water to get rid of dirt and other stubborn foreign elements from it.

Why do polished cars look shiny?

Car polish removes swirls, road debris, and other minor damaging elements from the top coating of the paint. This makes the color look even. However, with such a treatment, your car becomes only as shiny as the layer of the paint is.

In fact, it is the wax that makes the body shinier. Furthermore, the wax also forms a protective layer over the paint to prevent it from future slight damages like minor scratches, swirls, and other foreign elements that can make the shade dull.

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Rental Reviews, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main Photo Credit: Vershinin89/ Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

Vivek Nayyar
Vivek Nayyar

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2 of 10 comments
  • Jeff S Jeff S on Aug 09, 2020

    Any polymer sealant as long as it is a polymer sealant. You can find polymer sealants on Amazon. Polymer sealant is a particular variety of automotive sealant that is made up of synthetic ingredients, called polymers, in a liquid base that is applied to a car's finish during detailing. Polymer sealants have polymeric base and may additionally contain fillers and pigments, resin and adhesion promoters, plasticizers, protective chemicals, and curing agents.

    • See 2 previous
    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Jul 10, 2022

      @Jeff S Hey Jeff I like that sealant so far. Applied it today with a dedicated waffle applicator on my random orbit polisher (after washing and going over all the paint with a clay bar). It goes on quicker than wax (no wait for hazing) and passes the 'car key' test (keys slide on the paint instead of sticking in place).

  • Tane94 Tane94 on Jul 06, 2022

    You can't beat this recommendation.

  • Slavuta "The fuel-economy numbers are solid, especially the 32 mpg on the highway"My v6 Highlander did 31 over 10 hour highway trip
  • Aja8888 As I type this, my 4 months old Equinox's Onstar module that controls the phone is broken. Yep, 4 months (never worked right from day one). Replacement will be a REFURBISHED unit since no new ones can be obtained (from China?). I really don't miss the phone via Bluetooth. And I have a great Garmin that I have used for years for trips which has free lifetime maps and traffic.
  • Bd2 There's a reason why talented American execs have been leaving Stellantis in droves.Tavares seems intent in following "Le Cost Cutter" Ghosn into driving his company into the dirt, whilst "justifying" his ever expanding compensation.
  • Bd2 Too bad gm didn't make the C8 better looking to begin with...
  • GregLocock Not interested at all. Apparently I've got Apple car play but I've never used it in 3 years. The built in nav is ok.