When it comes to keeping our cars looking great, we all know that for that premium finish you need a range of different products. The waxes, brushes, micro-fibre cloths and jet washers all find a home in the armory of those of us who like our vehicles to be in tip-top condition.
One product often overlooked, however, is metal polish. This is a real shame, because not only can it play an important part in keeping your car detail looking awesome, it’s relatively inexpensive and very easy to use.
There are quite a few brands and types on the market, so which one is the best? Read on to find out.
Best Rated Metal Polishes in 2020:
The main “drawback” of this product is the “complicated” instructions. You apply it to any metal surface on your car, rub it in, put a bit of elbow grease into it for a premium finish, and that’s it.
Joking aside, this is a really good product. It has a mild formula that’s much less abrasive than some other polishes on the market. That means you can use it whenever you like without having to worry about long-term damage. In fact, as it builds up something of a protective barrier (a very useful feature) with long-term use, it is a good idea to bring it out every time you deep clean the car.
At a reasonable price tag for 10 ounces of product, you get a nice big, long-lasting supply. In fact, 10 ounces is essentially a bucket of product compared to some others on this list, so it really is good value for the money.
- Basic, Easy to Use
- Gentle Formulation
- Large Supply
- Brand Mothers
- Model 05101
- Weight 10 oz
This polish comes in a tube of paste and ounce for ounce is one of the most expensive products on this list. It’s also one of the best, especially if you are looking to return a poorly maintained metal surface back to its previous, shiny luster. That is exactly what this product is designed for, and it has a professional-grade formula that has been trusted by bodywork pros for years.
It is safe to use on dozens of materials, including many you’ll find around the home like brass, silver, and aluminum. That being said, at this price you’ll want to keep every drop of it for use on the car.
This really is a superb product, especially for rescuing metal surfaces that have seen better days. It may be better to also pick up a cheaper, more run of the mill product for everyday polishing and save this for an occasional deep clean.
- Professional Formula
- Rescues Poorly Maintained Metal
- Long Lasting Protective Coating
- Brand Simichrome
- Model 390050
- Weight 2.24 oz
Making an outstanding metal polish is actually a bit of a challenge. On the one hand, you need a product with the power and abrasion to tackle oxidation, rust, and other tarnishes while being mild enough to not damage the metal itself.
It’s a tightrope that Blue Magic attempts to walk with this product, and it is a challenge it lives up to. This product is mild enough that you can happily use it on a wide range of metals – including pretty much any surface you are likely to find on a car. At the same time, it has the power to clean off oxidation and other tarnishes and dirt.
Also, the fact it comes in cream form is very helpful, which many users think is a little easier to apply then liquid formulas. You also get the entire product on the car, not dripping onto the driveway.
All in all, for the price and the amount you get this is a superb product.
- Excellent on Oxidation
- Long Lasting Protection
- Safe on a Wide Range of Surfaces
- Brand Blue Magic
- Model 400
- Weight 9.6 oz
In some earlier products on this list we have discussed polishes that work to restore a metal to its previous shine and luster – which is great. However with this product, 303 have come at the problem from a different angle. Instead of restoring a metal to it’s previous shine, how about building up a long lasting protection to keep it shiny in the first place?
That is the standout feature of this product which boasts a formula designed to build up a thin protective layer over repeated use. This layer, 303 claim, will protect from tarnishes and even scratches. In addition to that useful feature, it provides a superb, highly polished finish, and it is also mild enough to use on a range of metals.
At one very low price for 12 ounces, price wise it’s certainly one of the pricier options, it’s whether you think the extra outlay is worth it for the long term protection.
- Creates Protective Film
- Can Prevent Scratches
- Brand 303
- Model –
- Weight 12 oz
The name is the guarantee with this product from Chemical Guys, which is well known for producing top-end car cleaning products. This is no different, and while it carries a premium price tag, you get a nice big 16-ounce bottle, so it’s actually pretty good value.
Mild enough to use on a range of surfaces, it is strong enough to tackle blemishes all the way up to light rust, making this product one of the more powerful cleaner and polishes on this list. That ability to tackle heavy tarnishes makes it an excellent restorer too, so while this polish is great for keeping metal looking good, you can also use it on surfaces that need a little extra TLC.
It’s actually quite rare to see such a premium product form a well-respected manufacturer like Chemical Guys being sold for essentially a mid-range price, so that makes it easy to recommend this product.
- Cleans & Restores
- Great on Chrome & Stainless Steel
- Tackles Rust
- Brand Chemical Guys
- Model SPI_402_16
- Weight 16 oz
This is a pretty unique product from Eagle One or at least unique for this list. The product is a stack of cotton swabs that are instantly ready for use. You don’t need to worry about using too much of the product on your metal surfaces as they are essentially like wet wipes; just pull one out, wipe the surface down, and away you go.
Unlike most wet wipes, these are petroleum based and smell quite strongly of diesel, so make sure you pick up some disposable gloves. The product is non-abrasive, while the cotton pad it comes soaked with is slightly abrasive. That allows you to control the abrasion level with a little elbow grease – if the metal is particularly dirty, scrub away a little bit harder!
While the product is both effective – and very convenient – at keeping metal looking clean, it’s not quite as effective at restoring heavily tarnished metals. It struggles against oxidation damage and marks.
Still, if your car is newer and still shiny – and you want to keep it that way – this is a very handy product to have around.
- Comes Pre-Soaked on Cotton Pads
- Non-Abrasive Formula
- Cleans & Polishes all Metals
- Brand Eagle One
- Model E301131001
- Weight 5 oz
A product that can tackle multiple jobs is always welcome – provided of course it can do them all well. That’s what we’re looking at here with this polish from Quickway. Ignore the fact it is marketed primarily as a chrome cleaner, it does in fact work on multiple materials such as silver and brass – but it also does a job on windshields, mirrors and tires. That makes it very useful to keep around the garage.
Despite it being mild enough to use on many surface types though, it is still strong enough to tackle imperfections from water spots all the way up to light rust patches. That is a very handy combination indeed, and when you add in the fact that it cleans, polishes and waxes all in one go, you have a pretty useful product on your hands here.
Unlike some others on this list, this cleaner is water based (instead of petroleum based) making it a non-toxic, environmentally friendly product.
Finally there the fact it’s a pretty middle of the road pricing for 5 ounces and that it’s made right here in the good ol’ US of A and this is, all in all, an excellent and very useful product.
- Water Based, Eco Friendly
- Multiple Applications
- Powerful Enough to Tackle Rust
- Brand Quickway
- Model AZ-91633
- Weight 8 oz
As handy as it is to have a product with multiple applications, sometimes it’s just as good to have one that simple does exactly what it says on the tin. To that end, please say hello to this product from 3M called, very imaginatively, Chrome & Metal Polish.
It is possible to use this product on other materials too – such as brass, bronze and silver – however it is specifically designed for use on chrome. If you have a vehicle that uses a lot of that material in it’s detailing, this then could be a very attractive cleaner for you.
Like some others on this list, it is very much a restorative kind of cleaner, and it packs the punch to take on a range of tarnishes to return a metal surface to a previous luster. It is also formulated to either remove or at least minimize pitting and spotting, which makes it ideal for use on wheel trim especially.
Considering you’re getting 10 ounces here, it is very competitively priced too.
- Excellent on Chrome & Metal
- Brilliant Restorer
- Tackles Pitting & Spotting
- Brand 3M
- Model 39527
- Weight 10 oz
So there we have some of the best Metal Polishes out there on the market today. As you will have seen there is quite a bit of variation between them, so just how can you decide which one is the best for you and your needs?
Well, by reading our handy guide of course, which will talk about the different features to look out for, why you need a polish in the first place and, once you’ve selected your product, how best to use it to get the perfect finish.
Aren’t we great?
Why Do You Need a Metal Polish?
This seems as good a place as any to start, though the answer is disappointingly dull and straightforward I’m afraid.
The short answer is that you need a metal polish to keep all of the metal parts of your car looking at their best. After all, what’s the point of having amazing well-waxed bodywork if the chrome details are pitted and scratched?
The longer answer however relates to the type of polish and cleaner that you need. You will see in the list above that several of the products we have highlighted are Restorative products whilst many others are simply Polishes. They type you need will be dictated by the current condition of the metal surfaces on your car.
- Restorative – This is a stronger type of cleaner, and it will likely be a bit more abrasive than the milder polishes. This type of product is perfect if you need, as the name suggests, to “restore” metal. So if you’ve bought a used car that hasn’t been looked after too well, or if it’s your own car that’s showing a few signs of wear and tear (don’t worry, there’s no judgment here) then this would be the product for you. The strongest products will tackle all imperfections including rust and will leave behind a surface restored to it’s previous luster & shine.
- Polish – Polish is a milder type of type of product. It will likely require a fair amount of elbow grease, however it is mild enough to use frequently without having to worry about damaging the surface. They don’t pack the power to tackle deep imperfections like a restorative product, however they do have the power to clean light surface dirt and staining and to leave behind a shiny, high quality finish. That makes them perfect to use on metal that requires upkeep rather than repair.
What Makes a Good Metal Polish?
Whilst metal polish may seem a pretty simple product, nonetheless there are a few features to keep an eye out for and which may affect your buying decision when picking between all the products.
Keep an eye out for and consider:
- Strength – Check out the section above for a more in depth look at this feature. Generally speaking, the worse condition your metal is in, the stronger polish you are going to need. Once you have it returned to former glory however, you may wish to consider switching to a milder polish for longer-term use.
- Base – Because it’s all about that bass. No, wait – we’re talking base with an “E” here. Generally speaking, these products will come as either a viscous, waxy material or a runnier, watery version. Personal preference is for a thicker, wax like product. It’s easier to get the right amount on the cloth, it’s easier to apply and you get all of the product exactly where you want it rather than running down the paint work and dripping onto the ground.
- Base Part 2 – No more Megan Trainor, don’t worry. These are all chemical products of course, but some have more chemical elements than others. Some items on this list are petroleum based for example, and they smell pretty awful! Some are water based and surprisingly eco-friendly. This will matter more and less to different people of course, but if it does just keep an eye out for base details.
- Multiple Applications – The nature of this product is that it can be used on a wide variety of surface types, mainly metals. Some of them however can also be used on other materials too, such as porcelain (not very useful) and wheels (very useful). Whether you want a universal product or more of a bespoke polish is up to you.
- Protection – Finally, it’s a good idea to keep any eye out for products that offer a degree of long-term protection. They generally do this by building up a base layer over multiple applications, that is essentially like the top layer of a good car wax applied to the bodywork. It will both protect against dirt and grime build up (and possibly even light pitting and scratches) whilst also helping to maintain a long term shine.
How to Properly Polish Metal on Your Vehicle
If you look back at product 1 on this list, then you will see that I made a joke about how simple these products are to use. Still, just as with anything if it’s worth doing then it’s worth doing well.
Just as with any cleaning procedure, make sure that the surface itself is nice and clean before you start, and that the weather and your surrounding environment are suitable – you don’t want a load of dust blowing into the polish as you are trying to apply it.
It may sound stupid but take a look at this guide from Popular Mechanics for a bunch of tricks and tips to guarantee a superb clean – honestly, even I picked up a few new ones.
Number 1 top tip before we go – always work the polish in straight, vertical lines never in circles. That way will help you to avoid putting swirls into the surface.
- Car Cleaning Guide – Popular Mechanics