Best car polish 2022: Give your car the ultimate shine

Cat Dow
21 Sep 2022

Looking for the glossiest results or a quick paintwork protector? Check out our guide to the best car polish

The glint of sun catching the freshly polished paintwork of a car is a highly satisfying sight. The innovative technology employed by the best car polish formulations means getting a great shine on your car doesn’t have to be an arduous, time-consuming task.

Granted, you’ll likely get a better finish with a bit of elbow grease, but the car polish market has a vast range of products to suit a wide variety of drivers. Whether you’re time-poor or you like to while away a Saturday morning with a podcast and a polishing cloth, we’ve pulled together a helpful selection of the best car polishes on the UK market.

Not to be confused with car wax, car polishes have a mild abrasive in them so they can buff out scuffs or minor scratches. Car waxes add a layer of protection to repel rain and other particles in the atmosphere. The ideal scenario is to polish the car’s paintwork to prepare it for a protective layer of car wax.

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Best car polish: At a glance

How to choose the best car polish for you

What’s the best car polish to use?

Working out which car polish is for you means figuring out how much time and money you are willing to part with. Some spray car polishes will get you a bare minimum result with minimal effort, but aren’t necessarily as durable as they claim. Longer-lasting car polishes take more time to apply properly, haze and then buff off to prepare the surface for waxing.

What’s the best long-lasting car polish?

Longer-lasting car polishes support the car wax, but if your paintwork is scuffed or scratched, the durability of the polish becomes less relevant. Light scratches and swirl marks will be removed by most of the products on this list. Anything a bit deeper and you may need a scratch repair kit before you start polishing.

What’s the easiest car polish to use?

Some of the choices on the market didn’t make this list as they were too runny for our liking. Getting a formula you can work with is the key to making your time spent polishing worthwhile. The polish should go onto the applicator easily and then be distributed evenly. Too runny or too paste-like and you may create an uneven finish.

How do you apply car polish by hand?

You can apply car polish by hand or with a machine. There are electric car polishers, such as this cabled Halfords model or this cordless SPTA car polisher, to which you attach polishing and buffering pads. These can take some of the hard work out of the job, but you can polish a car by hand, too.

  1. Polishing comes before the waxing step. Prepare your applicator pads – we like these from Kent Car Care, as the handle makes it feel like you’re playing air hockey and the pads switch out easily.
  2. After washing the car thoroughly and then claying the car to remove impurities that could scratch the car further, you’re ready to start.
  3. First off, if you’re polishing by hand, you need to bring patience. Prepare to spend all day working on the car.
  4. Daub two or three pea-sized amounts of your car polish onto the surface of the applicator.
  5. Blot the polish onto the chosen panel. Keep it relatively contained. If you try to polish the whole car quickly, not only will you fail to get the desired results, but if it rains, you run the risk of not removing the polish before it gets wet.
  6. In a slow, up-and-down, side-to-side motion, work the car polish into the surface of the panel. You’re lightly “sanding” the swirl marks out.
  7. Once you’ve applied the polish, let it haze for the time specified, as per the instructions on your product’s bottle.
  8. Buff off with a microfibre cloth. Then repeat until you have a flawless finish.

Once you’ve polished the car, you can start waxing it.

Can I damage my car with car polish?

Using an orbital polisher on a fast speed can damage the paint by burning it. You can avoid burning the paintwork by taking your time, being gentle and moving the applicator pad around evenly.

It’s also worth considering specific polishes for specific materials. For example, Autoglym’s Metal Polish is great for brightwork. Many polishes state that they’re suitable for all surfaces, including metal, plastics and vinyl. However, use them with caution as some polishes haven’t always proven friendly to the surfaces on which they claim to be harmless. Test a polish in an inconspicuous area first.

How much should I spend on car polish?

Car polish can be pricey, but a little tends to go a long way. We’ve selected the best products for a range of budgets.

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The best car polish to buy in 2022

1. CarPlan Demon Shine: The best car polish under £10

Price: £5 | Buy now from Amazon

CarPlan’s Demon Shine proves you don’t need to spend a fortune for a decent finish. The lowest price for the biggest bottle, it offers great value though it won’t remove scratches and swirl marks. If you’re wanting a “wash-n-go” option, Demon Shine is a good choice. The fine spray pattern mists evenly over the car and then you use a microfibre towel to dry off. While purist detailers will call it cheating, if all you’re looking for is a low-hassle shine after the weekly wash, Demon Shine delivers.

Key details – Size: 450ml; Price per 100ml: £1.11

2. Poorboy’s PB-PP16: The best car polish ever

Price: £15 | Buy now from Amazon

It’s extremely hard to fault Poorboy’s PP16. This versatile car polish can be used on many different surfaces, such as paint, chrome, wheels and plastic. Since there are no wax or silicon ingredients, this is very specifically a car polish. While we wouldn’t use it on black plastic (it can leave white marks), the brilliant finish is unmatched. Used by pros, Poorboy’s doesn’t come cheap but it’s a worthy investment.

Key details – Size: 473ml; Price per 100ml: £3.31

3. Sonax Profiline: The best car polish for dark-coloured cars

Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon

Sonax Profiline is the most expensive product on our list, based on price per 100ml. It sets out to produce a hologram-free, high-gloss finish with its aluminium oxide and crystal formula. It works exceptionally well on cars with dark colours and leaves behind a magnificent shine. If you have minor scratches or blemishes in your paintwork, it will reduce or even eliminate them. Top product, but at a top price.

Key details – Size: 250ml; Price per 100ml: £7.12

4. Autobrite Direct Cherry Glaze: The best-value car polish

Price: £12 | Buy now from Halfords

If you’re looking for a genuinely effective car polish that isn’t simply a shortcut spray, then Autobrite Direct’s Cherry Glaze offers the best value. Made in the UK, Cherry Glaze is a one-stop shop to a polish, glaze and wax finish with a cherry scent. While it can only be used on paintwork, with a bit of hard work (persistence and patience, not pressure), Autobrite Direct Cherry Glaze leaves a brilliant finish and no residue.

Key details – Size: 500ml; Price per 100ml: £2.40

Buy now from Halfords

5. Autoglym Instant Show Shine: Best car polish for versatility

Price: £9 | Buy now from Autoglym

Autogylm’s Instant Show Shine brings gloss, value for money and versatility to the table. This quick fix works both outside and inside the vehicle, providing surfaces of all materials with a new shine. Though it won’t remove minor defects from paintwork, it will offer a post-rinse shine that will help protect your car until the next wash.

Key details – Size: 450ml; Price per 100ml: £1.86

6. Armor All Shield Better Than Wax: The best car polish for the time-poor

Price: £13 | Buy now from Halfords

American brand Armor All has an effective selection of car-care products. Its Armor All Shield Better Than Wax is an all-in-one product, looking to combine the scratch-removal surface preparation of a polish with the dust- and water-repelling protective qualities of a wax. It’s as simple as spray on, wipe off. Since it can smear if it comes into contact with water, ensure you dry the car thoroughly and work it over on a dry day for the best results.

Key details – Size: 500ml; Price per 100ml: £2.60

Buy now from Halfords

7. Dodo Juice Need for Speed: The best car polish for use with a machine

Price: £23 | Buy now from Amazon

Another all-in-one solution, Dodo Juice Need for Speed provides up to three weeks’ protection with its carnauba wax formula. While it can be applied by hand, it’s ideally used with a car polisher for the glossiest finish. In addition to removing light scratches and swirls, Need for Speed smells amazing. Though a little does go a long way, the only dealbreaker for some drivers might be Dodo’s high price.

Key details – Size: 500ml; Price per 100ml: £4.58

8. Autoglym Ultra HD Polishing Compound: The best car polishing kit

Price: £55 | Buy now from Autoglym

With its reputation for quality car care sealed by a Royal Warrant, Autoglym is a legend on the British detailing scene. Its Ultra HD polishing compound, which has been specially formulated for dark cars, is very effective. This kit, though pricey, comes with all the applicators and cloths you’ll need to attach to your machine. It will leave your paintwork with an exceptional shine.

Key details – Size: 500ml; Price per 100ml: £4.40 (excluding 2 x pads and 1 x cloth of the kit making up £33 of the kit’s price)

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