Turtle Wax Polishing Compound
The outdated polishing compound

best auto detailing tips

Turtle wax polishing compound is a well known product that even existed even before I did! I am pretty sure it must have been the polishing compound Fred Flintstone must have used to polish his ride. I am also pretty sure this is where so many people have adopted the terms compounding or rubbing compound when talking about car paint and removing oxidation from their car paint. But unlike this Turtle wax rubbing compound we are discussing here, car paint has gone through some dramatic changes in the last twenty years; but old habits die slow deaths. Regardless of why you went searching for any of the Turtle Wax rubbing compound reviews, I can offer specific alternatives that will be far more appropriate based on modern advances in chemical engineering and modern day car paint technology than using this product that is inappropriate for most situations.

Turtle Wax Rubbing Compound Review

turtle wax polishing compound
  • Easy to apply.
  • Very hard to remove.
  • Lots of dusting!
  • If you cling to old habits then this is the polishing compound for you.
  • Surprisingly good finished results considering how old this product is, and the amount of effort needed to get there.
  • Still a decent product for all those old-timers who just can't bring themselves to change.

Why You Would Want to Use Rubbing Compound

There are only (3) reasons most people go looking for rubbing compound:

  1. Car paint oxidation removal
  2. Car paint scratches
  3. You don't know any better and you cling to outdated terminology.

As an auto detailing professional I will break these areas down into specific areas and provide alternatives to the outdated technology of Turtle Wax polishing compound. These will include all the basic areas of car paint care. At the end of this page you will know more than that "know it all" neighbor of yours who claims to be an expert!

Car Paint Oxidation Remover

Unless you are working with car paint that is older than 15 years, you are in for good news! Due to modern advances in car paint technology, the effort required to maintain the value and beauty of your car is easier and simpler than ever!

Car Paint Basics

  • Virtually any car made in the last 15 years is made with a clear coat as the top layer of paint.
  • At a simplified level, clear coat is simply car paint with no pigment.
  • This is also referred to as 2-stage paint; color base coat and top clear coat.
  • Clear coats are what provide protection to the base coat, or color coat itself.
  • So in many ways, applying wax to your car is like putting a second floor mat over the first floor mat; protection for the protection.
  • With that said, wax or paint sealants do also offer visual enhancement and will offer a degree of protection for the clear coat itself, so most people consider waxing and polishing a requirement to optimum care for their cars paint.

Car Paint Oxidation Facts

turtle wax polishing compound oxidation

Due to the process of modern paints and the 2-stage process, or the clear coat process, car paint of today, does not oxidize like the cars of past. Anyone who has been around long enough will remember how your car paint would become dry, chalky, and dull. It was during these days that "rubbing you car paint out" with the famous Turtle Wax polishing compound that was the solution to removing the layer of dead paint known as oxidation while restoring some shine at the same time. This was also about 35 years ago and in case you have not noticed, technology, chemical engineering, and manufacturing has made amazing advances in both car paint and the products used to maintain your car paint; it is time to catch up to modern times!

Clear Coat Failure

The picture above is what is called clear coat burn out, or clear coat failure. Many enthusiasts would call this "owner failure"! But this is mostly unfair due to the fact that clear coat is going to fail based on things beyond your control. Every car company has their skeletons when it comes to car paint problems, some just more than others, and all the washing, waxing, and polishing in the world will not save clear coat that is too thin or made with inferior chemicals. This is an area none of us can control and an area that you would never get a straight answer from of the car manufacturer's.

  • Any car made in the last 15 years will have clear coat.
  • Clear coats must be maintained just like any car paint from the past; this includes washing, waxing, etc.
  • Despite misinformed opinions, clear coats are not all the same, meaning sometimes they are hard, sometimes they are softer. Each car must ultimately be judged on a case by case basis.
  • Despite product labeling, any product is clear coat safe. This is simply a scare tactic by manufacturers to promote their agenda.
  • Common sense always applies to anything when choosing products in relation to desired results.

Clear Coat Problems

turtle wax polishing compound spider-webbing

99% of you will not be dealing with what has been called paint oxidation, but simply lack of care and maintenance to your clear coated car paint. Over time, the clear coat not only dries out, but superficial scratches accumulate over time to create what is referred to as "spider-webbing". By looking at the picture to the right, you can see where the name comes from. It looks as though thousands of spider webs have been laid out in a circular pattern, which is also why many people refer to this problem as swirl marks. Officially, swirl marks in the professional world have to do with improper use of car buffers and car polishers that leave swirl marks in the car paint. In attempt to stay relevant and dramatic, the industry as well as self-proclaimed experts now refer to buffer tracks left by car buffers as holograms. (see how much more dramatic holograms sound instead of buffer tracks or swirl marks.)

Turtle Wax Polishing Compound Alternatives

If you are shopping for Turtle Wax polishing compound as a solution to this type of problem, you will need to keep the following in mind:

  • You will be in for lots of work!
  • It is an oversimplification to the problem as trying to remove these spider-webbing effect by hand through the use of some kind of car polish or rubbing compound will prove to be very ineffective.

Darren's Candid Tips

Before we get further we need to lay out some harsh realities that will hopefully apply some better understanding so you can make an informed decision. So follow along as I break it down section by section.

Who Turtle Wax Polishing Compound is for: My professional opinion is that this product should be reserved for spot treatments only. If your car truly needed to be rubbed out, or compounded, or polished, trying to do it by hand would produce very unsatisfactory results and should be done using some form of car buffer and better choice in products. I recommend seeing my page on auto buffers.

Who Turtle Wax Polishing Compound is not for: Anyone thinking they are going to polish out their entire car. 

As a rule, I would reserve this product for removal of bumper scuffs, finger-nail scratches typical around door handles, and various other marks on your car paint that does not come off with traditional washing and waxing. Like I said early; very limited use and for spot treatment only.

Modern Day Solutions to Modern Day Car Paints

The following rules apply to your car whether it is one day old, or 10+ years old and represent the very basic requirements of any car. If you have never performed any of the following and have gone searching for the best polishing compound as you think this is the automatic solution for years of neglect, either by yourself or a previous owner of your car, I highly recommend you start with the basics and proceed from there. The simplified version is as follows:

  • Washing of your car on a regular basis to remove superficial dirt. If you are looking to apply any of the other following suggestions, you need to start with a freshly washed car.
  • Use detailing clay to remove embedded pollutants from paint. (for a complete education of detailing clay and all its purposes, please refer to Detailing Clay.)
  • Some form of protective layer in the form of car wax or paint sealant.
  • The detailing clay will need to be used initially to remove pollutants from your car paint prior to application of car wax/sealant, and used periodically depending on the area you live and how much exposure it gets to weather; I may use the clay bar anywhere from every 2 months to once a year as it is a case by case judgement call.
  • The Clay Bar Kit below from Meguiar's is a perfect place to start if you are working on your own cars.
Meguiars Smooth Surface Clay Kit - G1016 60% More Clay!

Meguiars Smooth Surface Clay Kit - G1016 <font color=red>60% More Clay!</font>

Darren's Tips for Turtle Wax Polishing Compound Alternatives

I have found most people not only do not understand what car paint oxidation is, but also misuse the term. For most of you out there, simply using the quality clay bar and wax from Meguiar's I listed just above will be all that is necessary as a replacement to the time and effort you think you need from a product like Turtle Wax polishing compound. If you have used these products and you still think you need to polish your car, then refer to car polish of this site. If that is the case, I then further recommend professional products and tips that will also deliver a far better user experience than the Turtle Wax polishing compound for polishing your cars paint.

Car Paint Scratch Repair

While Turtle Wax Polishing Compound remains a popular product for the removal of superficial paint scratches, there are better ways to going about this. Often your car will have light scratches, skid marks, etc. that have accumulated over time. These types of random marks are best treated individually before you wax your car. The follow product from Meguiar's is ideally suited for these types of "superficial" marks:

Meguiars SCRATCH X 2.0

Meguiars SCRATCH X 2.0

  • Use on any miscellaneous scratches, "skid marks", paint stains, etc. after using the clay bar first, and prior to application of wax.
  • If you can grab the scratch with a finger nail, then this is beyond the abilities of a superficial scratch remover and requires more of a professional level of attention.

Darren's Tips for Turtle Wax Polishing Compound Alternatives

The area of scratches and miscellaneous marks on your cars paint is often where people over-complicate the problem and think they need to deal with the collection of these random scratches and marks as a whole. This is when people will often go looking for Turtle Wax polishing compound so they can "compound their car" and think they will just treat these miscellaneous problems while at the same time, treat their whole car. I do not recommend this as experience has shown me that you will end up with not only a partially "rubbed out" car, but a very frustrated car owner!

Turtle Wax Polishing Compound Review

  • Turtle Wax rubbing compound (polishing/ rubbing, whatever) is a good product; better alternatives just happen to exist.
  • Most of you will not need to go to this type and level of effort.
  • Starting with use of the clay bar and the recommend paste wax products from Meguiar's will go a long way to making you a happy car owner, with far less efforts and better end results!
  • If your car does have various and random light scratches, skid marks, or blemishes, use the Meguiar's Polish X first and treat individually; this would be you working smarter not harder!

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Turtle Wax Polishing Compound

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