Turtle Wax Polishing Compound
The outdated polishing compound

best auto detailing tips

Turtle wax polishing compound is a well known product that existed before I was even a twinkle in my dad's eye! 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. Welcome to the 21st century and modern day clear coated (2-stage) car paints.

Turtle Wax Polishing Compound Review

turtle wax polishing compound
  • Easy to apply.
  • Very hard to remove. (so hard you may find yourself scratching and marring your paint by rubbing so 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 embrace 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 You don't know any better and you cling to outdated terminology.

As an auto detailing professional I will break these areas down into specific areas and provide alternatives to the outdated technology of Turtle Wax polishing compound.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!

Single Stage and 2-Stage Car Paint

Unless you are working on a car built before 1990 you are in for good news! (this is approximately the time that clear coat became mainstream on cars) 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!

  • Virtually any car made since 1990 is made with a clear coat as the top layer of paint. (A few car manufacturers still produced cars with single stage paint and as a rule this is white paint only)
  • At a simplified level, clear coat is simply car paint with no pigment.
  • This is also referred to as 2-stage paint; the color 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 as well as protection for the clear coat itself, so most people consider waxing and polishing a requirement; I know as a professional detailer I do.

Car Paint Oxidation Facts

turtle wax polishing compound oxidation

Due to the process of modern paints and the 2-stage 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 became 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, the world is a very different place.

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.

Paint Spider Webbing

turtle wax polishing compound spider-webbing

99% of you will not be dealing with what has been traditionally referred to as oxidation, but simply deferred maintenance and/or abuse. Over time the clear coat not only dries out, but superficial scratches accumulate 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 formed 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.

Car Paint Holograms

car paint holograms

Since the term "swirl marks" is now considered both a boring and outdated, the industry has adopted the term "holograms" when referring to buffer tracks or buffer trails of improper use of car buffers. And in defense of the industry if you have ever seen buffer tracks, they do take on a hologram appearance as it appears that these tracks float atop of the paint surface and move and float as you change viewing perspective.

Turtle Wax Rubbing Compound:
If you Must!

If you find that you are still compelled to purchase this relic of a product, then who am I to judge. Below you will find a secure Amazon link with which you can order your own Turtle wax polishing compound and have sent directly to your front door.

Turtle Wax T-230A Rubbing Compound & Heavy Duty Cleaner - 10.5 oz.

  • I would reserve this product to limited use.
  • Finger nail marks underneath door handles.
  • Light bumper scratches.
  • Transfer from other materials that are now sitting atop of your car paint.
  • Miscellaneous smudges, scrapes, and abrasions as they accumulate on your car's paint over time.

Turtle Wax 50935 Scratch Repair & Renew 7 oz

  • A great product so long as you maintain realistic expectations
  • I keep and use a product like this as part of my professional arsenal
  • More aggressive than the rubbing compound above, but still mild enough for any car owner to use safely

Darren's Tips: I love having one of these product around my garage are as part of my professional arsenal for a few reasons:

  • They come pre-package in an easy to carry and use form
  • Products like these are excellent for those endless little car paint scratch touch-ups where I don't want to bust out my entire arsenal of paint correction tools, polishes, and polishing pads
  • Since I don't have unrealistic expectations for these retail type products, I can use them for results without disappointment

I would never try and polish my entire car using either of the products on this page. But for spot treatments of many kinds, these products definitely have a place in my arsenal and likely you would find them helpful also.

Turtle Wax Video Review

Turtle Wax Polishing Compound Alternatives

If you are shopping for Turtle Wax polishing compound as a solution to either of the mentioned problems from above, you will need to keep the following in mind:

  • You will be in for lots of work!
  • There is no "Wonder" polish or wax that will do the hard work for you.
  • Most people will have unrealistic expectations from car care products and go in search of a quick fix.

"Darren we get it... you're not a big fan of Turtle wax polishing compound. So what do you recommend as a professional to restore the paint on my car!"

Glad you finally asked!

Darren's Professional and Candid Tips

The rules below 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 these basics and proceed from there. The simplified version is as follows:

The Bare Minimum Plan:

  • Wash car first to remove superficial dirt. (This is a must before proceeding to the next steps)
  • 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.)
  • Apply your choice in a car wax or paint sealant. See my best car waxes review for my professional recommendations.

Turtle Wax Polishing Compound

Taking It To The Next Level

After you have completed the steps from above from the "bare minimum" plan, then you can raise the visual status of your car through polishing.

Believe it or not, there are car buffers, polishes, and polishing pads that have been created so that any first timer can deliver professional grade results if you in fact would like to raise the bar on your car's appearance. You can see my professional tutorial for car polishing for the complete beginner.

car polishing for beginners bmw 5501

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