Rubbing Compound Vs. Polishing Compound

by Jay Motes
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Taillight and spoiler on new white car image by steven Husk from

Though similar in use, rubbing compound and polishing compound are not interchangeable. Each is used to correct different car finish problems. Car owners should understand these differences to make the proper choice for their car's needs.

Polishing Compound

Polishing compound is a substance that is mildly abrasive. It is used to remove contaminants from the paint and will also smooth the paint by removing a small amount of paint. Polishing compound will remove light scratches in the finish of an automobile.

Rubbing Compound

Rubbing compound works in a similar manner to polishing compound, but is more abrasive. This means that the rubbing compound will remove more paint and is used for smoothing out larger scratches and other significant damage to the vehicle's painted surface.

Tips for Use

As polishing compound is less abrasive, it should be used first to correct problems with a vehicle's finish. If the polishing compound does not provide a satisfactory result, the more abrasive rubbing compound can then be used. Polishing compound may be needed after the use of rubbing compound to smooth out the paint.

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