One of the most commonly confused topics about automobiles, one which those in the industry constantly are explaining the general public, is the difference between car wax and car polish. There is a BIG difference between the two. In short: Wax does not polish your car, instead, it acts more as a protection and anti-aging agent for paint and finish. Polish, on the other hand, uses an abrasive action to remove fine layers of the top coat, giving the car a polished and fresh look. It can also be used as a cleaning agent of sorts. Wax does not do this- it basically smooths out the surface of the paint by filling in tiny missing areas. Polishes are sometimes used before waxing a car. Polishes come in different levels of abrasiveness, from medium to ultra-fine. The abrasives in the polish break down into small particles that fill in the paint to provide a deep, thorough shine. This gives cars the attractive image that is often seen in TV commercials and promos.
Car polish abrasiveness: comparison table
Here, we analyze the level of abrasiveness of five different car polishes. Less abrasive car polishes work as light swirl removers. Medium abrasiveness works as a moderate swirl remover. Heavily abrasive car polishes actually can cut compounds and more drastically affect the look of the paint.
- Happich Simichrome Polish: Heavy abrasiveness.
- Nu Finish Liquid Car Polish: Less abrasive
- Meguiars G19216 Ultimate Polish– Less to medium abrasiveness
- Mother’s 0501 Mag & Aluminum Polish- Medium abrasiveness
- Liquid Glass LG-100 Ultimate Auto Polish/Finish- Medium to heavy abrasiveness
When looking at car polishes, there are a few factors to consider. Will you be waxing the vehicle afterwards? Is this something you will do consistently over the life of your vehicle, or do you want to do it once and be done? Are you lazy? What is your knowledge of car care? Here, we break down these five products and who should buy them. Polish can be applied with an old rag or towel, one that you will not mind getting rid of afterwards.
Simichrome polish is a very popular, pretty standard polish that is well known and trusted throughout the automotive community. It is a bit pricey, which is why some users tend to go with Mother’s 0501 Mag & Aluminum Polish instead- it is less abrasive, cheaper, but not quite as effective for all types of general polishing use. If you are a beginner when it comes to auto care, the Happich Simichrome Polish is a good investment because the shine lasts on the vehicle for a long time. It is easy to use and its results are in line with what users typically think of when they picture a polished vehicle. Both products are readily available at fine car care centers or online, but be sure to notice the price difference.
Liquid Glass LG-100 Ultimate Auto Polish/Finish cuts out its niche in the market because it never has to be removed. If you are looking for a one-stop, simple, quick polish to apply and then not think about polishing for quite some time afterwards, this product is a strong buy. Note of warning- this product cannot be bought in the state of California because it is not CARB-compliant.
Nu Finish Liquid Car Polish is a liquid product easily applicable to a dry towel, or other similar method of polishing the vehicle. No rubbing or buffing is necessary, making it easy. The product can be purchased in most automotive stores or online very easily, and this product consistently rates well in consumer testing magazines. It ships only via ground- keep that in mind when ordering because it may take an extra day or two to arrive.
Meguiars G19216 Ultimate Polish is a good buy for advanced car care users. If your car has fine swirls or desperately needs a polish from a professional, this is a good way to go. Customers can buy it easily in stores or online.
Happich Simichrome Polish
Simichrome is known for shining metal to a mirror finish, which is appealing in many ways. It is easy to know if you have completed the polishing task or if you need to keep working on it based on how well you can see your own reflection. This product is also great because it is easy to tell if you make a mistake on an area- if so, use some peanut butter to get it off.
On the down side, if you spill any on engine parts or other objects where it does not belong, be sure to clean it up quickly because getting it off can be a nightmare. Overall, this product is a bit expensive but top of the line as far as quality, giving users exactly what they expect.
Nu Finish Liquid Car Polish
This product is great for those living in colder climates. The varying weather of winter and constant snow/mud/dirt can do a real number on a car’s finish, but Nu Finish has here a product built to stand up to those extremes.
Nu Finish recommends applying a second coat 30 days later. If you do this, you will notice that the finish will last through even through the toughest of winters. This product is the most appealing because of its easy apply and durability.
Meguiars G19216 Ultimate Polish
This product does not stand up well against salt or grime. It can be easily smudged or damaged, meaning the user will need to start all over again.
If you really know what you are doing, however, this Ultimate Polish is good for tough spots or small areas on the vehicle. It is not as simple to apply as simichrome or liquid and takes a good amount of elbow grease, but the finish actually looks very nice.
Mother’s 0501 Mag & Aluminum Polish
This is a good budget product, but not built for the extreme circumstances that some others are. It does, however, do a great job of initially picking up dirt and other particles from the paint and vehicle.
Your vehicle will shine like new immediately after applying this polish- just make sure you have an extra bottle around (or some left over from before).
Liquid Glass LG-100 Ultimate Auto Polish/Finish
Dependability is the name of the game with LG-100. It will never yellow, it will never need to be removed, and the fact that it is a liquid is extremely convenient. It is not very good for the environment or your sewage, however.
So do not use more than you need and be sure to dispose of dirty rags properly. This product works very well, just be sure to only use small portions at a time. One 1-pound bottle should last for quite a while.
Usage of car polish
In addition to polishing cars, car polish can be used for many shiny household objects like jewelry, dishware, silverware, etc. When using on a car (or anything else), only use a small amount at a time- car polish is very potent and contains chemicals that are not good for the skin or anything other than intended purposes. Gently apply polish to a rag, towel, or old shirt and apply in a circular fashion onto the automobile. It is advised to wear gloves when using. Avoid over use.
The most well-rounded products here are Happich Simichrome Polish and Nu Finish Liquid Car Polish. Nu Finish is recommended here because it is a thin liquid that is easier to clean and generally less of a hassle to deal with than the thicker options. Simichrome is such a standard product that many never even consider trying anything else, and that makes it a solid choice. Both of these products do what they say they will do with minimal effort from the user, and offer lasting results. At this point, it comes down to price and intended frequency of use. Overall, the Simichrome is most versatile car polish discussed here.