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Best Aluminum Polishes

Make your rims shine like they’re fresh off of the lot with the best aluminum polish.
Written and Tested By:
Ben Kasierski
Written and Tested By: Ben Kasierski Contributor – Motor1 Review Team

Ben Kasierski is a North Carolina native who covers the latest automotive and motorcycle products. He has tested hundreds of car detailing products – including tire shines,  car wash soaps, and full detailing kits – as well as gadgets to make life easier for the everyday driver like key finders and GPS trackers.

Last Updated 01/08/2024

Motor1 Reviews Team Take:

  • We tested and reviewed the best aluminum polishes on the market in 2024. Chemical Guys, 3D, Flitz, and Meguiar’s all made our list.
  • Ranging from $10 – $20, these products all offer a great way to get your vehicle’s rims looking brand new again.
  • While some of these are more heavy-duty, most of these products take minutes to apply and require minimal upkeep.
Best Paste
Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish

An all-around paste polish that takes little effort to use.

Best Liquid
Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish

A liquid polish great for knocking out small marks.

Best Heavy-Duty
3D Metal Polish & Aluminum Restorer

A heavy-duty polish for removing resilient buildup.

Best Precision Detailer
Flitz Multi-Purpose Polish And Cleaner Paste

A pinpoint cleaner for small details and missed spots.

Best Combo Option
Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner

A foaming wheel cleaner with polishing properties.

Aluminum polish is a heavy-duty compound designed to remove oxidation, stains, water spots, and more from aluminum surfaces. It’s used, particularly wheel rims, to improve appearance and protect against future damage. However, there isn’t one ideal polish for every person, as they each have different textures, features, and more.


Aluminum Polish Reviews

Five of the best aluminum polishers as tested and reviewed by our auto product team.

Our expert review team has rounded up and tested the best aluminum polishes based on their ease of use, clarity of instructions, the shine they produce, and whether or not they leave streaks. Read further to discover the pros and cons of each and which one is right for you.

The scores in each category are compiled into a single overall rating that ranges from 1.0 to 5.0 stars. Each polish’s ratings, including their overall ratings and awards from our team, are highlighted below:

What Are The Best Aluminum Polishes?

Based on these criteria, we named the Mothers Mag, Chemical Guys Heavy Metal, 3D Metal Polish & Aluminum Restorer, Flitz Multi-Purpose, and Meguiar’s Ulitmate as the best-rated aluminum polishes on the market in 2024.

Brand/ModelCostOverall RatingAward
Mothers
Mag & Aluminum Polish
$9.985.0Best Paste
Chemical Guys
Heavy Metal Polish
$19.994.9Best Liquid
3D
Metal Polish & Aluminum Restorer
$19.994.8Best Heavy-Duty
Flitz
Multi-Purpose Polish And Cleaner Paste
$10.024.6Best Precision Detailer
Meguiar’s
Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner
$13.924.3Best Combo Option

*Because cost data fluctuates, the prices in the table above are approximate values that our team regularly updates.

For those interested in learning more, we’ve provided a detailed review of each of the best aluminum polishes in the sections below:

1. Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish: Best Paste

  • Cost: $9.98
  • Amazon review score: 4.6 out of 5.0 based on around 20,000 reviews
The Mothers Aluminum Polish being used to clean a vehicle's wheel.

Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish Review

A trusted name in aluminum polishes, Mothers® Mag & Aluminum Polish is a paste that adds a protective coating to aluminum surfaces. It can be applied directly by hand using microfiber towels.

Because of its advanced paste formula, Mothers can work on nearly any metal surface besides aluminum. The paste formula makes it a great choice for those who need a quick and easy clean that thoroughly protects rims from environmental damage.

You can see how the Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish performed in each category below:

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use5.0
Clarity of Instructions5.0
Shine5.0
Streaks, Spots, and Scratches5.0
Overall Rating5.0

We give Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish 5.0 out of 5.0 stars. It’s easy to apply and leaves a brighter shine than any of the other aluminum polishes we tested. Our team also appreciated how well it works on small scratches and marks.

Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish:

Pros Easy to apply Protective, shiny finish Inexpensive
Cons

Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish: Our Experience

Mothers polish is easy to work with due to its creamy paste texture, which buffs with little effort. The instructions are direct and make the application process a breeze.

The Mothers formula changes color as it works, lifting grime. After our test, it left no streaks nor water spots, and it filled minor scratches enough to where they were barely noticeable.

A wheel after being cleaned by the Mothers Mag & Aluminum Paste.

Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish Reviews: What Customers Are Saying

Many of the positive reviews mention that Mothers Polish is versatile. Customers claim to use it on household items such as sinks, tea kettles, and other metal furnishings with successful results. Some of these reviews also commend how little effort it takes to make a great shine.

While most of the reviews are positive, some negative reviews complain about containers arriving leaking or smashed.

2. Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish: Best Liquid

  • Cost: $19.99
  • Amazon review score: 4.5 out of 5.0 based on over 5,500 reviews
The Chemical Guys Polish being used to clean a vehicle's wheel.

Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish Review

Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish has a concentrated formula great for restoring sheen. Besides aluminum, this polish can also brighten several other types of metal, including: diamond plate metalwork, chrome, and stainless steel surfaces.

You can see how the Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish performed in each category below:

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use5.0
Clarity of Instructions5.0
Shine5.0
Streaks, Spots, and Scratches4.5
Overall Rating4.9

It can remove light rust stains and oxidation from metal surfaces, which is especially useful for cleaning built-up brake dust on aluminum wheels. The best way to apply the Heavy Metal Polish is with a microfiber towel and applicator pad, plus careful attention to detail.

Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish:

Pros Easy to use, apply, and understand Left a brilliant shine
Cons

Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish: Our Experience

This aluminum wheel polish is easy to apply and leaves a brilliant shine after one coat. It did a superb job of extracting worn-in grime on our vehicle’s rims and has direct instructions that even a first-time user could understand.

The Heavy Metal polish left no streaks or spots, plus it made scratches less visible after a few passes with a dry microfiber towel. Deeper scratches were still prominent, though.

A wheel after being cleaned by the Chemical Guys Polish.

Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish Reviews: What Customers Are Saying

Many positive reviews claim this product leaves a better shine than any other polish they’ve used as well as a mirror finish. Some praise how well it works as a chrome polish, citing its usefulness for restoring their classic car’s bumpers. Some negative reviews say the Heavy Metal polish leaves slight discoloration after a few coats.

3. 3D Metal Polish & Aluminum Restorer: Best Heavy-Duty

  • Cost: $19.99
  • Amazon review score: 4.3 out of 5.0 (approx. 1,200 reviews)
The 3D Polish being used to clean a vehicle's wheel.

3D Metal Polish & Aluminum Restorer Review

Best for tackling well-worn stains, 3M Metal Polish & Aluminum Restorer removes rust and heavy-duty dirt with little effort. Its formula is designed for safe use that can tackle tough stains and restore shine even after long-term corrosion.

You can see how the 3M Metal Polish & Aluminum Restorer performed in each category below:

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use4.5
Clarity of Instructions5.0
Shine4.5
Streaks, Spots, and Scratches5.0
Overall Rating4.8

Our review team had a difficult time using the 3D because of its bottle design, which provides inconsistent amounts of polish with each squirt. In our test, this polish didn’t leave as noticeable a shine as the other polishes in this roundup after putting in a little elbow grease with consistent circular motions using our microfiber cloth.

3M Metal Polish & Aluminum Restorer Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the 3M Metal Polish & Aluminum Restorer:

Pros Clear instructions Durable formula works on toughest messes
Cons Bottle design makes it slightly difficult to use Not as great a shine as other top options

3D Metal Polish & Aluminum Restorer: Our Experience

3D Metal Polish includes clear instructions and requires no extra steps to apply other than polish and buff. It isn’t as tough on ground-in debris, but still removes or covers light scratches and water spots without streaking or tarnishing the finish.

A wheel after being cleaned by the 3D Polish.

3D Metal Polish & Aluminum Restorer Reviews: What Customers Are Saying

Satisfied customer reviews note how well their polished surfaces resist grime buildup even after one use. A couple of reviews even discuss using the 3D polish for successfully restoring sterling silver antiques.

Although most reviews are positive, some users complain that extra physical effort or a polishing tool is necessary for a glossy finish.

4. Flitz Multi-Purpose Polish: Best Precision Detailer

  • Cost: $10.02
  • Amazon review core: 4.6 out of 5.0 based on over 12,000 reviews
The Flitz Polish being used to clean a vehicle's wheel.

Flitz Multi-Purpose Polish Review

When you have a difficult scratch to remove or a pesky stain that won’t come out, Flitz Multi-Purpose Polish and Cleaner excels at evening out the appearance of many different materials. It tackles anything from water spots to oxidation, and Flitz claims it even works on difficult materials such as fingerprints, tree sap, and oil stains.

You can see how the Flitz Multi-Purpose Polish and Cleaner performed in each category below:

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use4.0
Clarity of Instructions5.0
Shine5.0
Streaks, Spots, and Scratches4.5
Overall Rating4.6

While Flitz works well on aluminum, this detailer can also be used on plastic, fiberglass, and chrome. Based on our testing process, we rate Flitz Multi-Purpose Polish 4.6 stars. It isn’t easy to open the seal on the tube packaging, plus measuring out the right amount is difficult due to Flitz’s texture, but the results of our testing speak for themselves.

Flitz Multi-Purpose Polish and Cleaner Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the Flitz Multi-Purpose Polish and Cleaner:

Pros Useful on multiple types of surfaces and for cleaning hard-to-remove substances Left an incredible shine during our testing
Cons Tricky to use due to quick drying time

Flitz Multi-Purpose Polish: Our Experience

We had to move quickly to avoid this polish from streaking, as it dries quicker than the instructions claim. The first coat didn’t remove all the minor scratches but produced a surprisingly bright shine on our rims.

A wheel before and after being cleaned by the Flitz Polish.

Note that in the image above, we used Flitz on the right side of the wheel.

Flitz Multi-Purpose Polish Reviews: What Customers Are Saying

Customers who enjoy using this polish commend how well it works to restore rusted aluminum surfaces. Some say Flitz polish can remove tough chemical materials such as acetone and paint spills. A common negative remark against the Flitz is that applying large quantities on car parts like fenders and rims takes extra effort.

5. Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner: Best Combo Option

  • Cost: $13.92
  • Amazon review score: 4.6 out of 5.0 based on over 30,000 reviews
The Meguiars Cleaner being used to clean a vehicle's wheel.

Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner Review

Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner is specifically designed for automotive use. It’s loaded with pH-balanced polymers that are especially effective on brake dust and rust buildup. You can see how the Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner performed in each category below:

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Use4.0
Clarity of Instructions4.5
Shine4.5
Streaks, Spots, and Scratches4.0
Overall Rating4.3

Because of its all-wheel design, this cleaner won’t stain tires if spilled. It also turns purple as it picks up grime, providing users with a visual indicator when it’s ready to be rinsed.

Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner:

Pros Great shine Clear instructions
Cons Stickiness left after application Involved application process

Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner: Our Experience

Due to its more involved process and poorer performance on scratches, we rated Meguiar’s cleaner at 4.3 stars. Unlike the other polishes in our roundup, Meguiar’s had to be washed out and then buffed for the most thorough finish possible. Even after buffing, we had to give it a second run-over with a dry cloth to prevent streaking.

The provided instructions were straightforward and gave us little room for error. And the Meguiar left a clear shine, but not as reflective as some of the other products we reviewed.

A wheel before and after being cleaned by the Meguiar's Polish.

Note that in the image above, we used Meguiar’s on the left side of the wheel. 

Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner: What Customers Are Saying

Those who left positive reviews appreciate the Meguiar’s color-changing properties to tell them when it’s time for removal. Other reviews point out how well it works on high-end aftermarket wheels. Some unhappy customers are upset that it left a sticky residue on their rims after application.


Aluminum Polish Buying Guide

When selecting aluminum polish, it’s important to consider your vehicle’s needs. Some rims may require polishes with a strong formula while others can be damaged by abrasive compounds. Whichever one you choose, be sure to test a small amount on a small portion of your rims before applying all of it. If you’re looking for additional tips on how to polish aluminum, Mobil has an expert guide with detailed images guiding you through the process.

Compare Aluminum Polishes

Brand/ModelCostFormula TypeSize
Mothers
Mag & Aluminum Polish
$9.98Paste5.0 ounces
Chemical Guys
Heavy Metal Polish
$19.99Liquid16.0 oz.
3D
Metal Polish & Aluminum Restorer
$19.99Liquid16.0 oz.
Flitz
Multi-Purpose Polish And Cleaner Paste
$10.02Paste1.76 oz.
Meguiar’s
Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner
$13.92Spray32.0 oz.

Formula Strength

Some polishes are designed for lightweight metals while heavy-duty polishes can tackle more intense jobs. It is better to choose polishes built for automotive detailing when cleaning your vehicle because its strength is made for these metals. 

Also try to use polishes that are non-toxic, non-flammable, and non-abrasive so you can protect your skin in case of accidental spillage.

Compatible Metals

Be sure the polish you choose is designed to work on the metal surfaces of your vehicle. Most polishes are designed to work on a variety of metal surfaces, but there are some that are specifically designed for aluminum and can damage materials like stainless steel and chrome.

Oxidation And Sealant Properties

While most polishes will give aluminum a new glow, the best should also double as a deoxidizer. This prevents rust buildup that can damage your aluminum over time. Polishes should also act as a sealant that prevents moisture from absorbing into aluminum.


Best Aluminum Polishes: Bottom Line

In this article, along with sharing helpful purchasing tips for those interested in purchasing a new aluminum polish for their vehicle, we reviewed the top five aluminum polishes in 2024:

Top-Rated Aluminum Polishes

  1. Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish: Best Paste
  2. Chemical Guys Heavy Metal Polish: Best Liquid 
  3. 3D Metal Polish & Aluminum Restorer: Best Heavy-Duty
  4. Flitz Multi-Purpose Polish: Best Precision Detailer 
  5. Meguiar’s Ultimate All Wheel Cleaner: Best Combo Option

Best Aluminum Polish: FAQ

How do I apply aluminum polish?

While each manufacturer has different recommendations for how to apply their aluminum polish, most follow these essential guidelines:

  1. Wash and dry the aluminum surface before polishing.
  2. Apply a dime-sized amount of polish to a clean applicator pad or microfiber towel.
  3. Scrub the polish into the aluminum surface. Use small circular motions on a specified area of the surface no more than 6.0 by 6.0 inches in diameter.
  4. Immediately after applying, buff the polish out using a separate clean cloth. Do not let the polish dry, as this can leave streaks.
  5. Let dry for three to five minutes.
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 until the entire surface has been polished. If your surface does not have an even coat or does not shine as previously hoped, consider adding a second layer.

Do I need to sand my aluminum surface before polishing it?

Some detailing experts recommend sanding aluminum before applying polish, as this process evens out the surface for a more precise finish. While this is one suggested method, many polishes do not require this extra step and can simply be buffed after a thorough wash-and-dry.

Is it better to use a polish cream or liquid for detailing?

We believe that liquid polishes are better for larger surface areas and general cleanings while pastes are better for fine detailing. Although texture plays a role in the application process, the most important consideration when choosing an aluminum polish is whether or not it’s safe on the surface you intend to clean.

Can I use a WD-40 to polish aluminum?

WD-40 is not an alternative to aluminum polish and, therefore, should not be used as such. WD-40 etches the surface of aluminum before it can be anodized and would leave your aluminum surface black and sticky. 


Best Aluminum Polishes: Our Testing Process

The polishes in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching Amazon for top products, looking at factors like customer ratings, Amazon superlatives, and prices.

The five polishes that best met these standards were ordered by our team for testing. A team member tested each product on a car, taking note of ease of use, clarity of instructions, shine, and whether or not they left streaks behind. Each polish was given a rating out of 5.0 stars based on these criteria.

We tested each of our five polishes on the rims of a 2004 Subaru Forester. The rims were first cleaned using Sonax wheel cleaner prior to being buffed with the aluminum polishes. We applied each polish according to the manufacturer’s instructions and recorded how easy they were to buff in, how clear the instructions were, the shine that each one left, and whether or not there were streaks, spots, or scratches after initial polishing.

Ease of Use: Aluminum polishes come in a variety of textures, and some are easier to apply than others. Products that are easier to spread evenly across our aluminum rims scored highest in this category.

Clarity of Instructions: Not all polishes work the same, but the provided instructions should clearly explain the application process. Polishes that have simple, straightforward instructions scored well in this category while those with complicated manuals did not.

Shine: The purpose of an aluminum polish is to improve overall appearance and make wheels shine like new. The polishes that scored highest in this category improved our aluminum’s luster significantly.

Streaks, Spots, and Scratches: The best aluminum polishes shouldn’t leave streaks or water spots after application. They should also reduce the appearance of scratches or marks. It is important to consider that polishes cannot completely remove scratches. Polishes that left a clear, uninterrupted finish scored better in this category.

How We Score Products

Every aluminum polish we test is given a score between 1.0 and 5.0 stars in each category. Here’s what those star ratings mean in concrete terms:

  • 5.0 Stars: A 5.0-star rating means an aluminum polish is among the best in a category.
  • 4.0 Stars: A 4.0-star rating means an aluminum polish performs better than average in a category.
  • 3.0 Stars: A 3.0-star rating indicates what is average or typical for an aluminum polish, based on our testing experience.
  • 2.0 Stars: A 2.0-star rating indicates the aluminum polish performs poorer than average.
  • 1.0 Star: A 1.0-star rating indicates that the aluminum polish performs well below expectations in a category.

Why Trust Motor1.com

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

*Data accurate at time of publication.