Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound Review – A Real World Test

The other day I was cleaning out my garage, and came across an opened-for-years, half finished bottle of Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound.

In fact, it’s been so well used in the past that there’s even a split in the plastic in the side of the bottle – you have to be careful how you squeeze or else it will come out of the side and not out of the cap.

In recent months I’ve been gradually doing “real world” tests of car detailing products I use on a regular basis. I had totally forgotten this neglected bottle of Ultimate Compound, and could easily have just thrown it out as it is looking a bit worse for wear.

However, in the interests of consumer information and insight, I decide I should probably do a review.

As luck would have it, I had the perfect “test bed” ready to go.

I’ve been weighing up trading in our trusty family wagon – a 2009 Subaru Legacy – for a newer Subaru (my wife particularly likes the new Forester, which I must admit is a rather nice car).

However, the Subaru has lived a fairly tough life under our ownership over the past few years. We’ve covered thousands of KMs around town, across the country, going up gravel ski and hill access roads etc.

As you might expect, the paintwork on the Legacy has therefore suffered. The car hasn’t skipped a beat reliability-wise, but it certainly isn’t looking factory fresh.

Whether we trade in the Legacy or sell it privately, improving the paint finish is only going to help get the best possible value.

I figured why not try Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound on the Legacy? The car was there ready to be cleaned, and so was my rather old bottle of Ultimate Compound.

In this review of Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound I’m going to show you some before and after images and give my experiences using this product.

What Is It?

Basically, Ultimate Compound is a cutting compound/heavy polish that is designed to remove surface imperfections from your car’s paintwork.

This includes:

  • Swirl marks (e.g. from using automatic washes)
  • Light scratches
  • Oxidation
  • Water spots

As it is an abrasive product, it’s not meant for regular use – you might use this type of product once or twice per year.

The whole idea behind it is to gently abrade the top surface to remove unsightly imperfections.

Does Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound Work?

As the saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding”.

Who cares what they say on the bottle – what matters is whether or not the product actually works.

What I did was identified some problem areas on the Subaru Legacy and took a series of before and after shots. All photos in this review have been taken with an iPhone 13 Pro, inside an Otterbox case (I make this point as I do feel the case negatively impacts on the image quality from the camera). Please note that this website also applies compression/resizing to images in order to save on storage space and speed up page loading. This means that you might not get the full effect from the images, but I hope they are good enough for you.

As far as application process goes, I simply followed the hand application steps on the bottle as per this image:

I must confess that I am not exactly the world’s most talented car detailer. I’m probably not using perfect technique, and I’m only applying by hand. I suspect if you had an orbital/DA device you could achieve a better outcome, and also if you spent more time on the application you could achieve better results (as well as preparing the paint better by using a clay bar after washing, for example).

I just washed the car with Mother’s California Gold Wash & Wax, dried it, and then used ultimate compound on some problem areas.

Results are as follows:

Before: A particular problem area on the Subaru Legacy – noticeable scratching above the driver’s side door handle.

 

After: You can see a noticeable improvement in the finish, with clear reduction in the visibility of scratches and swirls. The paintwork “pops” a lot more, which is impressive considering this is a now 13 year old car with plenty of mileage and use under its belt. 

 

Before: This is an area of deeper scratching on a top quarter panel of the car. Notice how flat the paintwork looks as well. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be able to do much with the scratching here as it looked a lot deeper versus the door handle are scratching. But let’s see what Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound is capable of!
After: The most prominent scratch (in the middle of the frame) is still somewhat visible but definitely improved. The whole finish looks much better. I was genuinely impressed here.

Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound Review Conclusion

Hopefully you can see from the before and after pictures that even with basic application technique and limited skills, you can achieve some great results with Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound.

I’m genuinely impressed with how much better the Legacy looks after a quick go over with Ultimate Compound. The car certainly isn’t “as good as new” but it does look a heck of a lot better – to the point that I think the paintwork looks better-than-average considering the age and mileage and usage of the car.

I’m sure there are better polishing products/compounds out there, but considering the reasonable price of this product and the great results it gets (as well as the fact that it will probably last a long time) it’s honestly hard to beat in my view.

With a basic application process I’ve seen a significant improvement to the paintwork on my old Subaru Legacy wagon. I have used this product on other cars in the past too, but just never took before/after shots.

What I’m going to do next is actually dedicate one day in an upcoming weekend to properly trying to detail the Legacy, and I’ll use a better camera to show before and after. I’m talking a process like washing and drying, then using a clay bar, then doing the entire paintwork with Ultimate Compound, then waxing. I’ll come back and update this review with some more insights after that.

However, for now I can safely say that I recommend Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound.

What is your view on this product? Is there something else you prefer for the money? Leave a comment below, it would be great to hear from you.

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