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Best Buffing Compound

Ensure your car’s paint won’t get damaged with one of the best buffing compounds on the market.
Written and Tested By:
Aidan Pounder
Written and Tested By: Aidan Pounder Writer – Motor1 Review Team

Aidan Pounder is a Motor1 product tester who has written reviews spanning from tonneau covers to rooftop cargo boxes. If he’s not burning through the clutch on his 2003 Ford Focus Zx3, you’ll find him keeping up with the latest happenings in the world of European football.

Last Updated 01/06/2024

Motor1 Reviews Team Take:

  • The best buffing compounds in 2024 are Chemical Guys V-Line, 3D One Car, Meguiar’s Quik Scratch Eraser Kit, Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound, and Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound.
  • Buffing compounds vary in cost but expect to spend between $20 and $30 for a small bottle.
  • Some buffing compounds should be paired with a wax, while others offer all-in-one formulas.
Best
Buffing Compound
Chemical Guys V-Line Polish And Compound Kit

A comprehensive and quality buffing compound kit.

Easiest to Use
3D One Car Scratch & Swirl Remover

A highly effective all-in-one buffing compound.

Best
Scratch Removal
Meguiar’s Quik Scratch Eraser Kit

A buffing compound that’s designed to remove scratches.

Best Value
Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound

A budget-friendly buffing compound that provides results.

Best for RVs
Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound

An aggressive buffing compound for boats and RVs.

The choices for car detailers and DIYers who want the best buffing compound are endless. Many products claim to make your ride shine, but the real-life results are often disappointing.

We’ve tested several buffing compounds to determine which work well and could be applied by most people even without professional experience.


Buffing Compound Reviews

Five of the best buffing compounds that were tested and reviewed by our auto product team.

A buffing compound is supposed to improve the appearance of your vehicle’s exterior by shearing down and smoothing your vehicle’s clear-coat layer. These are typically applied with a buffing pad and require some elbow grease.

What Is The Best Buffing Compound?

We named the Chemical Guys V-Line, 3D One Car, Meguiar’s Quik Scratch Eraser Kit, Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound, and Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound as the best-rated buffing compounds on the market in 2024.

Brand/ModelOverall RatingAwardCost

Chemical Guys V-Line

5.0

Best Buffing Compound

$69.99 (16.0 oz.)

3D One Car Scratch & Swirl Remover

4.7

Easiest to Use

$29.99 (16.0 oz.)

Meguiar’s Quik Scratch Eraser

4.5

Best Scratch Removal

$17.97 (4.0 oz.)

Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound

4.2

Best Value

$11.89 (15.2 oz.)

Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound

4.0

Best for RVs

$21.90 (32.0 oz.)

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

Buffing Compound Ratings: Our Testing Process

Our team tests all types of car chemicals, including interior cleaners, car wax, and leather cleaners. To find the best buffing compound we started by testing products from our favorite companies. We also considered new products that are popular and have received many positive online reviews.

A team member tested each buffing compound, taking note of how well the buffing compound performed when it came to effectiveness, versatility, and shine. Each buffing compound was given a rating out of 5.0 stars based on these criteria.

Learn more about how we tested buffing compounds here.

1. Chemical Guys V-Line Polish And Compound Kit: Best Buffing Compound

Chemical Guys V Line Polish And Compound Sample Kit
Chemical Guys V-Line Polish And Compound Kit Best Buffing Compound

The Chemical Guys V-Line Polish And Compound Kit.

  • Cost: $69.99 (16.0 oz.)
  • Amazon review score: 4.6 out of 5.0 based on more than 5,200 ratings
  • Available sizes: 4.0 oz., 16.0 oz.

The Chemical Guys V-Line Polish and Compound Kit is engineered specifically for scratch-resistant and ceramic clear coats. The kit itself consists of four 16.0-ounce bottles of compound and finishing product: the V32 Optical Grade Extreme Compound, the V34 Optical Grade Hybrid Compound, the V36 Optical Grade Cutting Polish, and V38 Optical Grade Final Polish. All of the buffing and polishing compounds are silicone- and filler-free.

The buffing compounds in this kit feature Optical Grade micro-abrasives, which remove deep scratches and blemishes to provide a clear and high gloss finish. The V32 compound removes 1,200 to 1,500 grit scratches, as does the V34 compound. The V36 is a cut compound that removes 2,000 to 2,500 grit sanding scratches, swirls, and holograms. The V38 is a finishing polish that removes 2,500 to 3,000 scratches.

It should be noted that the buffing compounds in this kit are all compatible with dual-action polishers and rotary polishers.

You can see how the Chemical Guys V-Line Polish and Compound Kit performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Effectiveness 5.0
Versatility 5.0
Shine 5.0
Overall Rating 5.0

The buffing compounds in this kit feature Optical Grade micro-abrasives, which remove deep scratches and blemishes to provide a clear and high gloss finish. The V32 compound removes 1,200 to 1,500 grit scratches, as does the V34 compound. The V36 is a cut compound that removes 2,000 to 2,500 grit sanding scratches, swirls, and holograms. The V38 is a finishing polish that removes 2,500 to 3,000 scratches.

It should be noted that the buffing compounds in this kit are all compatible with dual-action polishers and rotary polishers.

Below are the pros and cons of the Chemical Guys V-Line Polish And Compound Kit:

Pros
  • Includes four different, effective buffing compounds
  • Versatile assortment of compounds included
  • Unbeatable shine

In our testing experience, the Chemical Guys V-Line Polish and Compound Kit is an exceptional kit, as it gives you the power to fully buff, cut, and polish your car.

Effectiveness

In terms of effectiveness, there wasn’t a buffing compound that could match up to this kit from Chemical Guys. The fact that we’re not considering just one buffing compound, but rather four, should tell you all you need to know about the different compounds’ effectiveness. In particular, the V32 compound had incredible fast-cutting capabilities.

Versatility

Easily the most versatile buffing compound we tested, the inclusion of different types of cutting and polishing compounds in this kit allows you to fully complete the buffing process without purchasing extra compounds or tools.

Shine

Our team was incredibly impressed by the high-quality shine that the V38 Optical Grade Final Polish left on our testing vehicle’s paint. We applied the V38 to our favorite polishing pad and the glossy shine it left was unlike any other luster we saw while testing.

The Chemical Guys V-Line Polish and Compound Kit being used for buffing a vehicle.

The vast majority of reviewers say they recommend this buffing compound for anyone who needs to remove light scratches, water spots, or swirl marks from their car’s paint. Many say it works better than other similar products. One reviewer dubs his results as “spectacular.”

2. 3D One Car Scratch & Swirl Remover: Easiest To Use

3D One Car Scratch & Swirl Remover
3D One Car Scratch & Swirl Remover Easiest To Use
The 3D One Car Scratch & Swirl Remover.
  • Cost: $29.99 (16.0 oz.)
  • Amazon review score: 4.4 out of 5.0 based on more than 6,900 ratings
  • Available sizes: 16.0 oz., 32.0 oz.

Designed as an all-in-one compound, the 3D One Car Scratch & Swirl Remover features a hybrid formula of cutting compound and finishing polish. This means that the buffing compound can remove light scratches to heavy cuts, while also offering sealant protection. Furthermore, this compound is excellent for true paint correction, remedying paint defects, and eliminating swirl marks from a car’s paint.

The brand, 3D, has over 25 years of experience in the car care industry and produces high-quality products that at-home DIY guys, detailers, and body shops alike trust. The 3D One, like all detailing products from 3D, is made in the United States. This all-in-one buffing compound is easy to apply, as you can use your fingers for small surface imperfections, or use with a polisher and one of the best buffing pads on the market for larger areas.

You can see how the 3D One Car Scratch & Swirl Remover performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Effectiveness 4.5
Versatility 4.5
Shine 5.0
Overall Rating 4.7

3D has over 25 years of experience in the car care industry and produces high-quality products that at-home DIY guys, detailers, and body shops alike trust. The 3D One, like all detailing products from 3D, is made in the United States. This all-in-one buffing compound is easy to apply, as you can use your fingers for small surface imperfections, or use with a polisher and one of the best buffing pads on the market for larger areas.

Below are the pros and cons of the 3D One Car Scratch & Swirl Remover:

Pros
  • Excellent buffing results
  • Versatile all-in-one compound

The 3D One Car Scratch & Swirl Remover performed very well during testing. Our review team was blown away by the results we had when using this buffing compound.

Effectiveness

Only slightly less effective than the Chemical Guys V-Line kit, our review team had reservations about this product prior to testing as it was an all-in-one compound. We’re pleased to report that this buffing compound is nothing like your average men’s all-in-one shampoo and conditioner – because it actually works.

Versatility

By nature of the hybrid formula implemented in this buffing compound, the 3D One is incredibly versatile. Our team members found ourselves quite satisfied with this buffing compound’s ability to accomplish multiple portions of the buffing process.

Shine

Even though this all-inclusive formula can remove grime and scratches on a car’s paintwork, it can also act as car polish and leave behind a bright shine. We were thoroughly impressed by the quality of shine that this buffing compound left on our testing vehicle.

The 3D One Car Scratch & Swirl Remover being used for buffing a vehicle.

The 3D One Car Scratch & Swirl Remover is deemed incredible for paint correction by a large number of reviewers, and many others refer to it as user-friendly. One reviewer states she recently shipped her car across the country, which left a number of swirl marks all across the hood of her vehicle. She says 3D One is better than any multi-step compound she used.

3. Meguiar’s Quik Scratch Eraser Kit: Best Scratch Removal

Meguiar's Quik Scratch Eraser Kit
Meguiar’s Quik Scratch Eraser Kit Best Scratch Removal
The Meguiar’s Quik Scratch Eraser Kit.
  • Cost: $17.97 (4.0 oz.)
  • Amazon review score: 4.2 out of 5.0 based on more than 8,200 ratings
  • Available sizes: 4.0 oz.

The Meguiar’s Quik Scratch Eraser Kit consists of a 4.0-inch scratch eraser pad that can attach to a cordless drill, a 16.0- by 16.0-in. microfiber towel, and a 4.0-oz. bottle of Meguiar’s ScratchX. During your research, you may have come across Meguiar’s ScratchX 2.0 – this was reformulated in 2020 and “2.0” was dropped from the name. In summary, this means that the bottle of ScratchX included in the kit is the more effective new formula.

This buffing compound can quickly remove scuff marks, scratches, defects, paint transfer, and even fingernail marks near door handles. Meguiar’s ScratchX formula features micro-abrasives that remove defects and enhance the level of shine. It should be noted that this buffing compound is safe to use on all clear coats and glossy paints.

You can see how the Meguiar’s Quik Scratch Eraser Kit performed in each of our testing categories below:

Overall Rating Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Effectiveness 4.5
Versatility 4.5
Shine 4.5
Overall Rating 4.5

This buffing compound can quickly remove scuff marks, scratches, defects, paint transfer, and even fingernail marks near door handles. Meguiar’s ScratchX formula features micro-abrasives that remove defects and enhance the level of shine. It should be noted that this buffing compound is safe to use on all clear coats and glossy paints.

Below are the pros and cons of the Meguiar’s Quik Scratch Eraser Kit:

Pros
  • Impressive scratch removal
  • Great shine
  • Easy to apply

We really like Meguiar’s Quik Scratch Eraser Kit and felt its scratch-removing capabilities were a notch above the rest of the competition.

Effectiveness

Our team members were impressed by the effectiveness of Meguiar’s ScratchX. In particular, this buffing compound’s ability to remove scratches was notably better than other competitor products that we tested in person.

Versatility

Although this buffing compound’s marquee characteristic is its ability to remove scratches, it also features micro-abrasives in its formula to enhance the shine it leaves behind. We think that this buffing compound is a solid choice for any stage of the buffing process.

Shine

As touched upon earlier, this buffing compound does leave behind a shine. While the quality of shine is not to the same level as the Chemical Guys V38 compound, it is undoubtedly still a quality shine.

The Meguiar’s Quik Scratch Eraser Kit being used for buffing a vehicle.

Reviews speak to how easy to use this buffing compound is and how well it works. Many reviewers state going to a body shop is a waste of money when buffing compounds like this exist. A few negative reviews state that this buffing compound left swirl marks on paint, but we personally didn’t experience this.

4. Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound: Best Value

Meguiar's Ultimate Compound
Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound Best Value
The Meguiar’s G17220 Ultimate Compound.
  • Cost: $11.89 (15.2 oz.)
  • Amazon review score: 4.5 out of 5.0 based on more than 7,300 ratings
  • Available sizes: 15.2 oz.

Safe and effective on clear coats and single-stage paints, Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound features a time-reducing formula that makes it easier to restore neglected paint finishes. This buffing compound is designed to remove scratches, oxidation, blemishes, and water spots without scratching or swirling. We recommend taking your car through a car wash or using one of the best car cleaning products to remove contaminants before using this compound.

Featuring exclusive micro-abrasive technology, this buffing compound can restore your car’s paint finish and even add gloss to the paintwork in just one step. Although this buffing compound is reasonably priced, Meguiar’s didn’t curtail its quality as it cuts as fast as harsh abrasives to restore surface clarity. It should be noted that this buffing compound can be applied with your hands or via a dual-action polisher, such as Meguiar’s MT300.

You can see how the Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Effectiveness 4.5
Versatility 4.0
Shine 4.0
Overall Rating 4.2

Featuring exclusive micro-abrasive technology, this buffing compound can restore your car’s paint finish and even add gloss to the paintwork in just one step. Although this buffing compound is reasonably priced, Meguiar’s didn’t sacrifice quality as it cuts as fast as harsh abrasives to restore surface clarity. It should be noted that this buffing compound can be applied with your hands or via a dual-action polisher, such as Meguiar’s MT300.

Below are the pros and cons of the Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound:

Pros
  • Budget-friendly
  • Great scratch removal
  • All-in-one formula
Cons
  • Formula disappoints in some areas, like shine

The Meguiar’s G17220 Ultimate Compound is a budget-friendly option for those who want a quality buffing compound.

Effectiveness

Undoubtedly effective, this buffing compound worked well at removing light to moderate scratches on our testing vehicle. Our team members were impressed, as it managed to buff out a few deeper scratches with quite large surface areas.

Versatility

Relatively versatile, the Ultimate Compound from Meguiar’s greatest strength is arguably its biggest drawback – it’s an all-in-one compound. While you won’t have to worry about switching between different compounds during your buffing process, this compound is better at scratch removal than it is at leaving a shine on your car’s paint.

Shine

If you want a buffing compound for the shine it leaves on your car’s paintwork, then this might not be the right compound for you. However, this buffing compound does leave a gloss over your car’s paint, which we found restored some radiance to the paint on our testing vehicle.

The Meguiar’s G17220 Ultimate Compound being used for buffing a vehicle.

Reviewers speak to how well this buffing compound removes light scratches on their car’s clear coat. Lots of customers say they highly recommend this product, while several go as far as saying their car looks brand new now. Negative reviews focus on the buffing compound’s failure to remove scratches – however, our review team didn’t find this to be true.

5. Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound: Best For RVs

Meguiar’s Marine RV One Step Compound
Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound Best For RVs
The Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound.
  • Cost: $21.90 (32.0 oz.)
  • Amazon review score: 4.6 out of 5.0 based on more than 4,200 ratings
  • Available sizes: 32.0 oz., 128.0 oz.

The Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound is a buffing compound that’s designed to clean fiberglass, gel coat surfaces, and leave behind a high-gloss finish. This one-step compound restores surfaces by way of removing water spots, scratches, stains, and oxidation. It also restores color and leaves behind a bright shine. It should be noted that you should not apply this buffing compound to vinyl and rubber surfaces or decals.

In terms of application, this buffing compound can be applied by hand or via a high-speed rotary buffer. For applying the buffing compound by hand, Meguiar’s recommends using a 100-percent cotton towel or a foam applicator pad. For applying the buffing compound by machine, we recommend using a foam or wool buffing pad.

You can see how the Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound performed in each of our testing categories below:

Overall Rating Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Effectiveness 4.5
Versatility 3.5
Shine 4.0
Overall Rating 4.0

In terms of application, this buffing compound can be applied by hand or via a high-speed rotary buffer. For applying the buffing compound by hand, Meguiar’s recommends using a 100-percent cotton towel or a foam applicator pad. For applying the buffing compound by machine, we recommend using a foam or wool buffing pad.

Below are the pros and cons of the Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound:

Pros
  • Eliminates many different kinds of surface blemishes
  • Ideal for boats and RVs
Cons
  • Not useable for cars or trucks
  • Not the best shine we’ve seen

In our experience, Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound is an aggressive yet simple and safe-to-use compound – making it the buffing compound that’s Best for RVs.

Effectiveness

During our testing process, we were impressed by how well this buffing compound worked. It eliminated heavy oxidation, tough water spots, and scratches – all while leaving behind a high-gloss finish.

Versatility

Albeit having a poor rating in our versatility testing category, this buffing compound is in fact incredibly versatile, as long as you use it solely on your boat or RV. Due to its more aggressive makeup, it shouldn’t be used on cars or trucks. However, it is more than effective at each stage of the buffing process.

Shine

This buffing compound for RVs isn’t going to leave a showroom shine on your camper or boat, but it will leave a high-quality glossy finish. Simply put, this buffing compound enhances the shininess of your RV but won’t wow you with the level of shine it leaves.

The Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound being used for buffing a vehicle.

A huge number of reviewers speak to how effectively this buffing compound restores heavily oxidized panels on their RV. Several customers comment that their RV looks nearly brand new after using this product.

Negative reviews state the buffing compound didn’t work as expected, but our review team chalks this down to customer misuse as we had no issues with the product.


Buffing Compound Buying Guide

Every buffing compound that you encounter is unique to some extent. Whether it’s different because of what it’s made up of or the way it’s applied. We recommend reading the back of your buffing compound bottle diligently, taking note of how much or how little of each compound you need to apply to your buffing pad.

Some buffing compounds work best at certain speeds or with certain machines, but as long as you follow the manufacturer’s directions as closely as you can, you should be able to get the high-quality finish you’re looking for on your car, truck, or RV.

At the end of the day, you may need to try several options to find the perfect buffing compound for your vehicle’s paint. Keep in mind that buffing compound works to smooth out imperfections, but can only do so much. Deep scratches may be impossible to remove, and getting the results you want could take several passes.


Best Buffing Compound: Bottom Line

If you’re unsure which buffing compound to purchase, we’ve tested the following and can confirm that they are effective and can be applied by the average car owner at home.

  1. Best Buffing Compound: Chemical Guys V-Line Polish And Compound Kit
  2. Easiest to Use: 3D One Car Scratch & Swirl Remover
  3. Best Scratch Removal: Meguiar’s Quik Scratch Eraser Kit
  4. Best Value: Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound
  5. Best for RVs: Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound

Buffing Compounds: FAQ

Below are some common frequently asked questions about buffing compounds: 

What is the difference between buffing compound and rubbing compound?

The difference between buffing compounds and rubbing compounds is buffing compounds correct uneven surfaces caused by scratches. On the other hand, rubbing compounds restore old paintwork and act as a new automotive top coat.

What is the most aggressive buffing compound?

The most aggressive buffing compound that our review team came across while researching and testing buffing compounds is Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound. This is because it’s specifically designed for use on RVs and boats, rather than cars and trucks.

Is Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound a rubbing compound?

Meguiair’s Ultimate Compound is a cross between a rubbing compound and a buffing compound. It surpasses the performance of most other rubbing and buffing compounds, leaving a nice shine and even paint surface.


Full Buffing Compound Testing Methodology

Each buffing compound was tested with one of the best buffing pads on the market with both a cordless drill and a random orbital polisher, specifically the TORQX Random Orbital Polisher. This was done to recreate real customer interactions with these buffing compounds, from both a DIY standpoint and from a professional detailer’s point of view.

During our testing process, we judged each buffing compound against the criteria listed below:

Appearance

Above all, customers want a buffing compound to be effective. We tested each compound’s effectiveness by judging how well it performed each step of the buffing process, from removing deep scratches to final polishing.

Versatility

Testing for versatility involved our team members noting if the buffing compound was intended to be used for multiple stages of buffing, cutting, and polishing processes. Depending on its intended use, we then judged how well it functioned in each process.

Shine

Simple and straightforward, we observed how bright and impactful the shine was that each buffing compound left on our testing vehicles.

How We Score Products

Every buffing compound 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 a buffing compound is among the best in a category. It removes scratches, doesn’t swirl, is safe for all vehicles, or produces a like-new shine.
  • 4.0 Stars: A 4.0-star rating means a buffing compound performs better than average in a category. It can remove moderate scratches, is safe for most vehicles, or produces a high shine.
  • 3.0 Stars: A 3.0-star rating indicates what is average or typical for a buffing compound, based on our testing experience. It can remove minor scratches, is safe for only specific vehicles, or provides a minor shine.
  • 2.0 Stars: A 2.0-star rating indicates the buffing compound performs poorer than the average silicone wiper blade. It does not remove even small scratches, is suitable for a narrow range of vehicles, or provides little-to-no shine.
  • 1.0 Star: A 1.0-star rating indicates that the buffing compound performs well below expectations in a category. It damages car paint, doesn’t remove scratches, or provides no shine.

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. Products subject to availability.