Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound Review
A staple of many detailing arsenals, Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound is a useful product to have. While it does not have the cutting ability or refinement capabilities offered by more specialised products, it is a good all-rounder. Machine use will remove swirl marks and leave good gloss, while hand use will provide effective removal of surface oxidisation, improving the overall clarity of the paint.
A classic from Meguiar's, with Ultimate compound having the ability to remove and refine the paint to a high standard.
- Easy to use for both trade and weekend-warrior
- Decent amount of cut, best results with a machine polisher
- Good value for money
- Next to no residue
- Lacks the cut you get from more abrasive polishes
- Need to work hard to get perfect results
Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound – Application and Ease of Use
I tested this product using a Vertool Forced Drive machine polisher combined with a Meguiar’s microfibre cutting pad, as well as by hand using a foam applicator. Before polishing any vehicle, it’s important to ensure the surface is clean and dry. Chemical decontamination and use of a clay bar will ensure the surface is clean and ready to be polished. For more on decontamination, check out this article.
Ultimate Compound is a consumer-grade product from Meguiar’s, so as a result, it is very easy to use. One of the first thing I noticed when using Ultimate Compound, both using a machine polisher and by hand, was that it was very ‘wet’. What I mean by that is that the polish did not feel that it was dry or chalky, and the pad had plenty of lubrication as it was worked, which makes for a better user experience in my opinion.
With the microfibre machine polishing pad, I primed the pad with the product. This ensures that no dry spots are able to cause marring.
Working on an area roughly 40 cm by 40 cm, I started the machine at a low speed and spread it out over the area, before increasing the speed to around 5 (out of 6). I made 5 complete passes with the polisher at this speed applying moderate speed while applying light pressure.
By this stage, the polish had turned clear, so I increased the speed of the machine to maximum and made one final pass with no additional pressure. This will give the highest possible gloss with the polish before wiping away residue with a microfibre cloth. For subsequent polishing sets, I would brush out the pad and apply three or four small drops of polish. After a few sets, I would change to a fresh pad to maintain efficient and consistent polishing.
Using Ultimate Compound by hand is a simple process. I recommend chemical decontamination as before, but a clay bar should only be used if absolutely necessary. This is because clay is abrasive and causes marring, this isn’t a problem when machine polishing, as the machine polisher will be able to remove that marring. Polishing by hand will not be abrasive enough on many paints to remove that marring, so a clay bar should be used sparingly.
I have used both a foam and a microfibre pad to use Ultimate Compound, both work well. When used by hand, I apply a spot of polish to the pad that is roughly 3 cm by 3 cm, but it doesn’t need to be exact, the user will quickly notice whether more or less polish is needed.
I work in small sections of roughly 20 cm by 20 cm, working in circular motions and applying pressure until the polish turns clear and the residue can be wiped away.
One complaint I have in this area is there does seem to be difficult to find usage instruction from Meguiar’s themselves. Although it is self-explanatory, some more information online would be useful.
The finish achieved by Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound will depend very much on the method of polishing used. A machine polisher will be able to remove the top layer of the clear coat and as such remove defects that are within the clear coat, such as swirl marks. In theory, this can also be done by hand, however, I find it hard to generate enough force to do this by hand.
After a polishing set with my machine, I compared before and after results. The before and after results definitely showed an improvement, with the swirl marks removed and deeper scratches looking diminished.
Polishing by hand the results were not as impressive, but this was to be expected. The paint still looked better than before having been polished by hand.
How is this polish best used?
This product would serve well as an introduction to paint polishing, due to its ease of use and reasonably good gloss. Due to the low viscosity and good lubrication of the product, it would work well on oxidised paint, including single-stage paints. It is paint in this condition where this product will yield the most impressive results.
Some polishes can produce a lot of dust when used or leave a tacky residue that is hard to wipe away. Ultimate Compound does not present this problem, I haven’t had to deal with any fling or dust, and the residue has been easy to remove.
What should follow this product?
Following Ultimate Compound, it is possible to go straight to a protective product such as a wax (Best Car Wax) or sealant. Another option is the use a glaze, such as Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish. This contains conditioning oils that add clarity to the paint and can fill in minor imperfections.
Value for Money
This product is sold in 16 oz (473 ml) bottles which usually costs around £16.00. One bottle goes a long way, especially when polishing by hand. A small dot of polish is roughly 1 ml, roughly 50 ml – 75 ml would be needed to hand polish an entire car, at the cost of approximately £2.50.
When using a machine polisher, I did use more polish but was also covering a larger area. I used roughly 5 ml to prime the pad and added roughly 2 ml for subsequent sets. For a car I would aim to use three clean pads, so would need to prime three times. This would amount to roughly 80 ml of the product being used at the cost of £2.70.
Level of Cut
Before and after machine polishing, I used a paint depth gauge to measure the amount of paint removed by the polish. This averaged out to 4 micrometres, which is slightly more than the level of cut I would expect from a polish like Menzerna 2500 but is not as aggressive as many heavy cut compounds.
Meguiar’s are a USA based detailing company with a wide range of detailing products. They make products suitable for the enthusiast as well as professional detailers and painters. Meguiar’s have a professional line that is available to the public. M105 is a heavy cut compound that may be more suited to certain jobs than Ultimate Compound.
I used Ultimate Compound on a heavily swirled bonnet, which also had some random deeper scratches on it. Below the results can be seen, with a good improvement in paint clarity and the removal of swirl marks. Deeper scratches were not removed but were definitely less noticeable.
I tried polishing by hand on the same bonnet, resulting in deeper clarity, with the paint on the right-hand side appearing a truer shade of black. Lighter swirl marks have been removed, but deeper scratches do remain.
Hand polishing will be more effective on softer surfaces. Some paints are softer than others, but excellent use of hand polishing is on piano black trim. I used Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound with a microfibre pad to hand polish these B-pillars, with excellent results.
What does Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound do?
It is a mild abrasive which can clean the surface of the paint of oxidisation which cannot be removed by ordinary washing alone. It can also be used to remove light swirl marks, improving the gloss of the paint.
Do I need to polish after using Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound?
You don’t need to do any further polishing, however applying a glaze to the paint will temporarily mask some imperfections and further improve the visual appearance of the car. It is worth noting glazes are only temporary solutions.
Do I need to wax after applying Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound?
You will need to apply some sort of protective product after using Ultimate Compound. This can be either a wax or a sealant. My advice would be to wipe the paint down with a panel wipe before applying protection, this will give the best durability.
What pads should I use with Ultimate Compound?
The Meguiar’s microfibre cutting pads are designed to work with Ultimate Compound. If like me, you find microfibre pads hard to get on with, a medium cut foam pad is also a good option. For hand application, either a foam or a microfibre pad is suitable.
Can you use Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound on glass?
Yes, it will clean glass effectively, and can be used as a water spot remover.
Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound – Final Thoughts
Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound is a staple of the ‘Weekend Warrior’, it is simple to use by either hand or machine and can still produce good results. I find using it in conjunction with a glaze and wax can give paint excellent shine, even without the use of a machine polisher.
While it is a very usable product, I don’t think it can compare with more specialist compounds from the likes of Koch Chemie or Menzerna, which I’ve found to give better results.
For people trying detailing for the first time, it’s a product I’d recommend due to its usability and effectiveness.