Cars

13 car polishes tested (2020)

If you look at your oldie in the spring sun: does it shine flawlessly all over, or does the paintwork appear weathered and slightly scratched in some places? Then a paint polish would be appropriate at the start of the season. Ideally by hand, because that way you won’t miss any filigree details, corners and edges. It’s also gentler on the paint.

AUTO BILD KLASSIK determined which agent is best suited for this in an extensive test of a total of 13 paint polishes. The test procedure was adapted to manual use. According to the manufacturer, nine of the tested products are suitable for manual and machine use. With their viscous consistency, however, they appear clearly optimized for manual use. We also tested four other polishes for the polishing machine.

Test winner and price-performance winner
in the AUTO BILD car polish test:
Koch Chemie Shine Speed ​​Polish

Koch Chemie Shine Speed ​​Polish

Shine Speed ​​Polish

cook chemistry

Shine Speed ​​Polish

  • Low price
  • Very easy to apply & polish off
  • Perfect surface and grinding pattern

Price €16.99


The Koch Chemie Shine Speed ​​Polish car polish was both the test winner and the price-performance winner. For 16.99 euros, the manufacturer supplies 500 milliliters of Shine Speed ​​Polish, which is very easy to apply and polish off. None of the other eight polishes can be polished off so effortlessly without leaving any residue. A perfect surface and sanding pattern complements the positive overall picture – number one!

How AUTO BILD tested it

A standardized procedure is required to create identical and reproducible test conditions for all polishes. The porous paint surface of our Ford LTD is too matt and would absorb any product like a sponge, and the weathering and soiling is completely inconsistent. The Industry Association for Personal Care and Detergents e. V. (IKW) has given a recommendation for the quality assessment of paintwork cleaners – we have tested this IKW scheme together with the vehicle expert organization KÜS in a chemical laboratory.

Our test panels are painted with a modern, single black, water-based paint. Water-based paints have been the industry standard for around 20 years and are almost always used for repairs. Three quarters of the test surface are artificially weathered with a special matting paste, giving us a gloss level of 60. The gloss level is determined with a gloss level meter.

Product test paint polishes

Nine products that can also be processed by hand were selected for the first test.


The lower surface of the sheet metal remains untreated and has a gloss level of 90. This corresponds to a new paint job and cannot be improved by polishing – on the contrary: the point here is not to deteriorate the value. In order to be able to compare the performance of the polishes, we use a reference paint cleaner prepared according to the IKW recipe.

The left surfaces of the test sheet are treated with the reference paint cleaner, the test product is used on the right. The products are applied with a PUR-ether sponge onto which five grams of product are massaged. The sponge is attached to a 1.5-kilogram weight, which is passed over the test sheet in a “crosswise” manner without additional contact pressure, in a total of five passes. Polishing is also done with the 1.5 kg weight.

Product test paint polishes

We use a gloss meter to determine whether the polish makes the matt surface shine again.


After polishing, the degree of gloss is measured and the sheet is cleaned with isopropanol to remove any silicone or wax contained in the product. The reason: We want to see whether the product has created scratches. Silicones, oils or waxes can cover the scratches that occur during polishing. After degreasing, the surface is visually inspected again and the degree of gloss is measured one last time.

The test results at a glance

Just behind a product from Koch Chemie in first place are the car polishes from Fusionskin, Petzoldt’s and Dr. wack. They also achieve good results in all relevant test criteria. The Sonax Premium Class Saphir Power Polish achieves the best overall performance. It increases the gloss value from 60 to 77. No other polish achieves a greater increase in gloss value on the matted surface of the test panel. It also delivers good results in all other test criteria. Since Sonax only supplies the top polish in a 38.99 euro set with polishing knob, sponge and microfiber cloth, it falls far behind in terms of costs.

Product test paint polishes

AUTO BILD tested a total of 13 car polishes: nine products for manual use and four for machine polish.


The field is divided between fifth and sixth place: The polish of Meguiar’s (sixth place) disappoints with the sanding pattern. After degreasing, the test panel is covered with fine scratches caused by coarse abrasive grains in the product. If you use it on paintwork that is only slightly dull, you run the risk of polishing in new scratches.

The seventh place, ChemTools, increases the gloss level only moderately. A polish that doesn’t make the paint shine is no fun. Nor one that produces dust when polishing, as is the case with Nigrin’s elaborately packaged paintwork cleaning set. And what about the most expensive polish in the field? Swissvax smells of raspberry yoghurt and is easy to work with – but the product is not worth 58 euros. Here you will find valuable tips for polishing the car.

Conclusion on the car polish test

Koch Chemie Shine Speed ​​Polish is very easy to apply and, above all, to polish off, is also a price-performance winner. A top product! Fusionskin, A1 and Petzoldt’s are very close together. Sonax wins the property rating and sets the standard for increasing the degree of gloss. But the high set price of 38.99 euros throws Sonax back. Meguiar’s, ChemTools and Nigrin produce fine scratches, Swissvax is far too expensive for the performance offered and not worth the money.

Four machine polishes in the test

A polishing machine is a wonderful tool for both hobby and professional paintworkers (click here for the AUTO BILD polishing machine test). With a speed of up to 3500 revolutions per minute, it removes the upper, weathered layer of paint micrometer by micrometer. The great advantage of such machines lies in their high polishing performance, which is also their greatest disadvantage: If they are used incorrectly, this can damage the paintwork considerably.

Machine hand polishing is not a good idea! When polishing sharply by hand on the machine plate, there is a risk that heat damage will occur on the paint due to the speed and contact pressure or that the paint will no longer be there after the first application at too high a speed. Special machine polishes have a thinner consistency and mostly fine-grain abrasives.

Machine polishes tested

We tested four machine polishes – from the three established suppliers Petzoldt’s, Sonax and Swissvax as well as from the industry newcomer Herrenfahrt. Result: Petzoldt’s high-gloss machine polish can almost completely polish out both sections, hardly spatters and leaves a deep-gloss surface free of gray haze. Top!

Close behind: Sonax. The Herrenfahrt product leaves a gray haze, as does Swissvax. Since the polishing performance is also the worst of all four products, only last place remains. Completely exaggerated: the purchase price of 89 euros!

The machine polish is tested on the test bench. Two test panels are used here. One with a soft Glasurit finish and one with a harder Ceramicclear finish. Both paints are spot sanded on the test stand. The soft paint with 3000 grit, the hard one with 5000 grit. Both sheets are then checked.

When it comes to machine polishes, the basic rule is: Equipment with a polishing machine and special machine polishes is for advanced hobbyists. Petzoldt’s achieves excellent polishing and glossing results, as does Sonax Perfect Finish. Unfortunately she squirts something.

FAQ car polishes

What is the best car polish?

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The car polish Koch Chemie Shine Speed ​​Polish was both the test winner and the price-performance winner in the AUTO BILD car polish test. For 16.99 euros, the manufacturer supplies 500 milliliters of Shine Speed ​​Polish, which is very easy to apply and polish off. None of the other eight polishes can be polished off so effortlessly without leaving any residue. A perfect surface and grinding pattern complements the positive overall picture.

Polish by hand or with a machine?

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A polishing machine is a wonderful tool for both hobby and professional paintworkers. With a speed of up to 3500 revolutions per minute, it removes the upper, weathered layer of paint micrometer by micrometer. The great advantage of such machines lies in their high polishing performance, which is also their greatest disadvantage: If they are used incorrectly, this can damage the paintwork considerably. In any case, never process a hand polish with the machine. There is an acute risk of heat damage to the paintwork.

How much does a good car polish cost?

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As always, there is hardly any upper limit. Our car polish test showed that good products can be had for less than 20 euros. Much more expensive products also performed worse in our test.

Why use a car polish?

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If used correctly, a polish can smooth out small scratches and imperfections in the paintwork. In addition, an unsightly matt surface becomes freshly shiny again. In addition, a car polish protects the paint from environmental influences such as UV radiation, road salt or bird droppings and thus contributes to the value of the vehicle.

Seal after the car polish?

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Real car enthusiasts often apply an additional seal after a car polish. This ensures even stronger protection and extends the durability of the car polish. If you don’t want to do this additional work, you can use a combination product with carnauba wax, for example. This is even used in the food industry.


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