Your car is probably not a display item that sits in your garage under a cover and is never on the road. But when you use it, it will eventually start to look less than pristine. There are several things like tiny little nicks, dings and scratches that are inevitable when you hit the open road. But those imperfections don’t have to be permanent — A Best car scratch remover might be able to help you buff that ding right out.
We take the vehicles that pass through the Roadshow garage a lot of places and inevitably, superficial scratches and swirls happen in car paint. That means we’re exactly the right people to test out different scratch removers — we want to keep those cars looking top-notch. However, we spent a considerable amount of time sampling various car paint scratch removers, rubbing compounds, and polishes to see which products remove a shallow scratch and restore your paint job with just a microfiber cloth and some elbow grease, and which ones don’t live up to the hype. Below you’ll find our top picks for combating paint defects, so read on and see which one is right for you and for some pro tips.
A quick caveat, though: If you have a deep scratch, these might not do the trick. For deeper scratch issues, a car paint expert is probably in order.
Your car is constantly exposed to the elements, and despite your best efforts, it is bound to get surface scratches and swirls from time to time.
Waxing and polishing can help protect your car’s finish but can sometimes be the cause of scratches too! Automatic carwashes are notorious for surface swirls and scratches, using abrasive buffers and applicators. But fear not, these types of scratches are usually easily rectified. A simple buffing is often good enough, but you’ll need a decent quality scratch-removal product to go with it, whether doing it by hand or via a machine buffer and polisher.
There are hundreds of different car scratch removers to choose from, and it can become overwhelming to find the right one. We’ve done all the hard work for you and put together a list of in-depth reviews to help you find the perfect scratch remover for your needs.
Why Use a Car Scratch Remover?
You may consider taking your car to a professional to remove the scratches. After all, a car scratch remover can’t give you professional results, right? Actually, a car scratch remover can remove the scratches and give your car’s finish a new look. With a little effort and the right product, you can remove scratches, swirls, scuffs, watermarks, and other blemishes.
A scratch removal job is easy and takes less time than you think. Plus, you can save up to $500 in professional scratch removal. While it is true that some scratches require professional repair and detailing, you can remove most scratches yourself, and you don’t have to be an expert.
Before You Buy Car Scratch Remover
On the surface, all scratch removal products look the same. However, results can vary depending on the product. Polishes “cover up” a scratch by lightly buffing it out. Compounds remove the scratch permanently without damaging your finish. As such, if you have tiny blemishes on the car, then you probably only need a standard polish. Deeper scratches will require a pro-grade compound that removes the scratches for good and keeps your paint job intact.
If you can afford it, get a paint removal kit. They typically come with everything you need to complete a job from start to finish. In addition, manufacturers design all the pieces in the kit for their particular compound. While buying a kit is not necessary, it makes the job a lot easier and eliminates the guesswork of buying the right removal tools.
Most car scratch removal kits are not stand-alone products. Once you finish removing the scratches, you will need to follow up with a sealant or wax. This will protect the paint and reinforce the job. You are less likely to see the scratches come back if you take this extra step.
Lastly, avoid using any type of buffer or electric polisher to apply car scratch remover, as doing so can damage your car’s finish. A simple application by hand is all you need to do the job. The only exception is a heavy-duty compound designed for professional scratch removal.
Each product featured here is selected by our editorial staff of car enthusiasts, and anything you buy through our links may earn TrueCar a commission. Although prices featured are accurate and items are in-stock at the time of publication, offers are subject to change without notice.
Chemical Guys Scratch and Swirl Remover
Chemical Guys is a well-known company that produces all kinds of auto detail supplies, and this car polish is one of its most valued products. The scratch remover works to remove imperfections from all vehicles and can be applied to all paint colors. It’s strong yet safe for the surface and proves to be very efficient.
This medium compound is intended to restore “moderate to heavy surface imperfections” for use with orbital buffing tools. This product has been demonstrated to effectively eliminate swirls, and in some cases make even deep scratches nearly invisible. All for a very affordable price, although no sealant compound is included.
Chemical Guys also have a ton of resources online, including video tutorials, to teach customers how to properly apply scratch remover and get the best results.
Mothers California Gold Scratch Remover
Our list could not be complete without this amazing product from Mothers. The car cleaning company has produced premium products for decades and this product is no exception. You can use it for polishing, cleaning, and waxing. You can use it to first clean your car while it works wonders on existing scratches. After a fresh coat, you will notice that your car is shiny again – almost like it did when you drove it from the showroom.
The product works on small scratches on your keyhole or nail marks that are common on the car’s body. Mothers California Gold is designed to work with most car paints. The product is applied by hand and this is evidenced by the lack of a full application kit.
The application is simple. First, clean the area you are applying the liquid and wait for it to dry. The compound has multiple uses and for the best results, it is advisable to wax your car after application. The liquid is most suitable for base coat scratches.
If you do have fine scratches in some typical areas of the car, we noticed them fill in quite well after following the manufacturer’s directions. For less than $10, it ain’t too shabby to remedy a minor car surface scuff mark.
Turtle Wax Color Magic Black
This is a high-quality swirl and scratch remover coming from a reliable company at an attractive price. It’s mostly designed for black vehicles, and it efficiently restores the paintwork, making it shiny and classy all over again. The glossy coat stays on for better aesthetics as well as for protecting the surface from further damage.
This Turtle Wax compound has been specifically formulated to restore and protect those dark coats, even bringing some color back to paints that have faded under UV exposure. The polish itself will only repair light swirls and scratches, so it may be best paired with a heavier cutting compound for a full restoration.
After application, the product leaves a wax layer that should protect your vehicle from further dust and sun damage for at least a couple of months. Just be sure to wear gloves, as this compound, in particular, can leave dark stains on skin and clothes.
3d cutting compound and finishing polish
This 3D One product boasts a scratch remover, rubbing compound, finishing polish, and sealant all in one bottle, with one even coating needing to be applied for a full detail. It’s certified to completely erase scars and blemishes caused by sand and dirt up to about 13 micrometers in size.
The manufacturer claims it “removes many moderate to heavy surface imperfections on all paint colors” and enhances clear coat protection for a couple months. It can also be followed up with a dedicated ceramic to seal the shine in for longer.
For full paint restoration, the product can be applied with a more coarse buff bonnet, then given another round of coverage with a smooth one to bring out the mirror finish.
Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover
Besides scratches, swirls are another common type of paint imperfection. Easily seen on dark-colored/black cars, swirls mar the appearance of your vehicle’s paint and can be difficult for the average car owner to correct. However, Carfidant’s scratch and swirl remover kit is a great alternative when it comes to paint repair.
Much like other compounds available, Carfidant’s product is formulated to both repair surface scratches and shine the paint surface for a glossy finish. The included buffing pad makes the process as easy as applying the compound to the pad, swirling it onto the affected area of paint, and then wiping it clean with a soft cloth. As the product removes tiny scratches, it will also brighten the paint for a better end result.
Like many of the products we’ve listed, however, Carfidant’s scratch and swirl remover aren’t going to turn your scratched-up ride into a brand-new vehicle that looks like it came fresh out of the paint booth. A glossy finish can only hide deep scratches for a limited amount of time. All the same, this product can be applied by anyone willing to take an hour or two out of their day for their vehicle. No big biceps, pricy machines, or expert knowledge is required.
Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound
Meguiar’s Deep Crystal Carnauba Wax is a high-grade carnauba-based formula that offers outstanding wax protection on both clear coat and single-stage paint. If you’ve used carnauba waxes in the past, you know they have traditionally been difficult to remove. However, Deep Crystal Carnauba Wax is a newer formulation that is much easier to apply and remove while creating a strong protective barrier that locks in depth and shine.
Also, because it’s a carnauba wax you’ll get a dark, rich gloss and shine while protecting your paint against the sun and outside elements. It’s the perfect product to apply for long-lasting protection after polishing your paint. So, if you want an easy-to-use wax that leaves a strong, protective barrier with a brilliant depth of shine Meguiar’s Deep Crystal Carnauba Wax is the perfect solution.
For more than 115 years, Meguiar’s has provided Car Crazy people with specialized, state-of-the-art formulations for making every car’s appearance show car perfect. Meguiar’s provides high performance car care products for every automotive surface, both on the interior and exterior of cars.
Griot’s Garage Complete Compound
Complete Compound’s advanced formula makes quick work of eliminating defects Not only does Complete Compound enhance your finish, it is also formulated to wipe off quickly and easily with a clean microfiber cloth and buff to a glossy shine. It can be applied by hand or with a Random Orbital and is safe for all automotive paint finishes, including clearcoats.
Complete Compound’s exclusive cutting-edge abrasives cheat physics by starting out with superior defect removal capabilities, but as it’s worked into the surface the compound leaves an ultra-fine finish that’s ready for a wax or sealant.
You’ll be impressed how Complete Compound’s advanced formula makes quick work of eliminating defects, leaving a wax-ready finish while adding depth and vitality to your paint. Not only does Complete Compound enhance your finish, it is also formulated to wipe off quickly and easily with a clean microfiber cloth and buff to a glossy shine. It can be applied by hand or with a Random Orbital and is safe for all automotive paint finishes, including clearcoats. Complete Compound’s exclusive cutting-edge abrasives cheat physics by starting out with superior defect removal capabilities, but as it’s worked into the surface the compound leaves an ultra-fine finish that’s ready for a wax or sealant. Try it once and you’ll never look back!
Chemical Guys Polisher Kit
NOVUS 7100 Plastic Polish Kit
Try our polishes and you’ll see why manufacturers of plastic/acrylic products recommend NOVUS Polish
NOVUS Plastic Polish is your one-stop solution for restoring and revitalizing all plastic, acrylic and fiberglass products. For home or industrial use, NOVUS Plastic Polish has formulated a complete system to restore scratched, faded, or discolored plastic materials.
For over 40 years, NOVUS Plastic Polish has been the recognized industry leader. Since 1972, NOVUS Plastic Polish has added new life to plastics, acrylics, and fiberglass with easy to achieve professional results. NOVUS Plastic Polish is helping millions win the war against fading, scratching and dulling of plastics that all too often cause the best products to grow old before their time.
Mothers California Gold Clay Bar
You’ve heard about clay bars—professional detailers, body men and your car buddies all talk about how well they work. Now use the clay bar everybody wants. Created to remove the particulate debris and contaminants that washing and polishing can’t, our exclusive Clay Bar System will remove embedded grains of metal, tree sap, airborne environmental deposits and paint overspray. Better yet, our clay bar isn’t hazardous to your paint—it’s just firm enough to pick up the bad stuff, without being too aggressive. Use Mothers Clay Bar to get rid of paint fouling grime and pave the way for complete waxing.
Mothers is known worldwide for its premium-grade polishes, waxes and cleaners and offers a broad array of finish care products under its Classic, California Gold, CMX, Speed, Power, Marine and Professional lines.
What to Careful about Car Scratch Remover?
The first thing to be aware of is while polishes and scratch removers are incredibly useful to the auto detailing process, they are not a cure-all. Detailing products are great for all the tiny blemishes over regular use, but things like deep key scratches or prolonged UV damage will require more excessive paint repair than over-the-counter polishes can provide. Be sure to consult professional detailing resources for what’s best for your car. It’s also crucial to fully wash and dry the car before applying scratch removal products.
It’s strongly recommended that you also do a “test area” before you apply the product to the rest of the car. This test area can offer you a lot of information like what the proper RPM and OPM (and pad) are in order to remove the scratches without damaging the surrounding paint.
When it comes to specific polishes, some are more gentle and made to be applied semi-regularly, while others are abrasive and made to help reverse several months or years of wear. Generally, polish is used to eliminate haze from the compounding stage, whereas compound is the most abrasive. Some polishes are also marked to be used on specific types of surfaces or paint, as opposed to general-purpose use. After scratch removal, apply a sealing compound like wax or ceramic to protect the paint long-term. Some polishes additionally have a sealant included as part of their chemical makeup, speeding up the detailing process.
Why Buy Car Scratch Removers?
- Improve the exterior appearance of your vehicle. Washing your vehicle on a regular basis can do a lot to keep your paint staying new and shiny. Add removing scratches to that routine, and you’ll be on the path to maintaining the investment that gets you to work and play each day.
- Cover up that scratch (before ___ sees it). Accidents happen, and we all make mistakes. But if you need an easy solution for your boo-boo, scratch removers can be of great help. They don’t require a lot of time or expertise and are relatively affordable considering the alternatives.
- Avoid repainting the entire panel/car. Paint jobs for even the smallest cars can number in the thousands of dollars. If you can improve the look of your vehicle without repainting the whole thing, that’s money saved.
- Increase its value. It’s not always a great idea to invest money in your car before you try to make a profit from it, but taking a few hours to spiff the entire thing up might just get you more in the end. We buy with our eyes first, after all.
- Learn some DIY paint correction. Maybe you want to learn how to improve the exterior of your vehicle. If that’s the case, experimenting with compounds is a great first step. We recommend you pick up a few panels to practice on before you experiment on your own vehicle, but knowing how to correct your own mistakes is a part of the process, too.
Do Car Scratch Removers Work?
Most car scratch removers are designed to repair shallow scratches. That is scratches to the outer clear coat of the car’s paint.
Honesting speaking, No not all the scratch removers we tested produced the same results, even on shallow scratches. However, some we tested proved to be brilliant on shallow scratches and one even managed to lessen the appearance of damage on deeper scratches.
The clear standout we’ve named our Best Buy car scratch remover produced the best results on the scratches we tested it on and left the best finish, even after washing the paintwork with car shampoo.
Different Types of Screatch Remover
There are many different types of car scratch removers. Bellow we defined then shortly.
RUBBING VS. SCRATCH REMOVAL COMPOUND
If you’re not familiar with the different types of compounds available for paint correction, distinguishing between the various terms can be hard. Rubbing compounds are typically more abrasive than scratch removal compounds and almost always require a polish to be applied afterward. Scratch removal compounds don’t necessarily require this polishing step. Polish compounds are their own class of clarifying, paint-enhancing products: They focus on shine, no scratches.
SCRATCH REMOVAL KITS
Designed to provide you with everything you need to remove scratches, these kits typically include a compound, an applicator of some kind, and perhaps even a microfiber towel. Purchasing a scratch remover kit can be a good way to get a deal. Oftentimes, you can get away with buying just the compound and then supplying your own applicator pad. All the same, these kits do provide value when it comes to simplicity.
SCRATCH REMOVAL CLOTHS
These innovative clothes are designed to take the hard work out of buffing the scratches on your own car. They’re made of formulated materials that don’t need to be wet to work. After washing your car, simply wipe the cloth across the surface of a scratch or defect multiple times. These cloths can be kept in a sealed container for continued use, as long as they aren’t dropped or contaminated, and are applicable for any and all paint colors.
TOUCH-UP PAINT PENS
Though they add more paint than they take away scratches, paint pens can be considered another type of scratch remover. Depending on where you purchase the paint pen, colors can vary from basic shades to custom palettes. Paint pens should be used on scratches where the base metal is exposed to prevent rust and further damage. Not all scratches require a paint pen.
How to Remove Shallow Scratch from Your Car?
If you’ve identified a shallow scratch on your car and want to use one of our recommended car scratch removers. Here’s what you need to do:
Protect your hands with rubber gloves
Many of these products contain strong chemicals which can be irritant to bare skin. If any of the car scratch removers does get on your bare skin, wash it off with soap and rigorous scrubbing.
Prep the area
Make sure you’ve cleaned the area you are going to apply the car scratch remover to with decent car shampoo. Bear in mind, some of these products need to be applied out of direct sunlight or in a cool place, so check the instructions.
Grab a clean cloth or pad
We used a fresh microfibre cloth for each of the car scratch removers we tested. Some kits come with a foam applicator pad or you can buy these yourself separately. While not essential, they do make application easier.
Prepare for more than one application
Even on shallow scratches we tested on we found that many car scratch removers needed more than one application to get rid of the scratch.
Polish the whole body
Once you’ve finished and the scratch is invisible you might notice the area you worked on has a slightly different finish to the rest of the car. It could be shinier, duller or just have a bit of haze across it. At this point, we recommend you give your car some TLC and polish the whole body.
How to Remove a Deep Scratch from your Car ?
Even the most careful and responsible drivers can end up with deep scratches on their car from time to time.
Our Best Buy car scratch remover was the only product of those we tested which made any difference to medium and deep scratches, though it didn’t completely remove them.
If you identify a deep scratch on your car it may be time to turn to the professionals. Depending on the depth of the scratch, a bodywork repair shop will either be able to smooth it out or if need be replace the car panel.
Top Brands in Screatch Remover
Popular Mechanics has picked these products at a variety of price points based on a combination of personal detailing experience and expertise from publications such as AutoWeek, Motor Authority, and SuperStreet.
Founded in 1932, this Illinois-based company specializes in a variety of automotive products. Its Scratch and Swirl Remover compound can be applied by hand or with a machine to remove scratches and blemishes in your car’s paint.
Much of what Adam’s has to offer comes with years of experience and hands-on knowledge of what works—and what doesn’t. Adam’s is headquartered in Colorado. Its Revive Hand Polish is worth trying if you’re looking to get that extra shine.
Oftentimes referred to as the industry standard, this company is headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota. If you’re a die-hard 3M fan, check out its plainly named Scratch Remover for above-average results.
With a good track record, Meguiar’s has a lot to offer when it comes to painting correction. For example, you can pair a number of compounds with these DA Power Pads for an even application. Meguiar’s is headquartered in California and has been improving vehicles all over since 1901.
Headquartered in Illinois, Turtle Wax was founded in 1944. If you’re looking for an all-in-one kit, check out Turtle Wax’s Premium Scratch Repair Kit. It’s everything you need to help your ride look brand-new.
The California sun gives Mother quite a lot of experience when it comes to painting protection and correction. After years of experience in the business, it has come up with the California Gold Scratch Remover.
Car Scratcher FAQ
How much does it cost to remove large scratches?
If your car has been involved in a major accident then the scratches may be more pronounced and beyond the scope of conventional scratch removal products. Most of auto repair shops often charge $150 to $200 for minor scratches but the costs can rise to $500 for major ones.
Can I use toothpaste to remove scratches?
Toothpaste may work in cases where the scratches are minor and have not penetrated into the clear coat. You can do this by applying some toothpaste on a damp cloth and erasing the marks. However, toothpaste is not a long-lasting solution and you need to upgrade to car scratch remover.
Are car scratches covered by automobile insurance?
If you have comprehensive insurance coverage then the scratches are covered. However, the car scratches removal products in the market are relatively affordable and cost less than $20 dollars.
Can I use WD40 on my car surface?
Yes, you can. WD40 has been proved to be safe for use on car exterior and other parts. The compound will not do any harm to your car paint.
According to our tests, Carfident C305 is our top choice for removing scratches and swirls from your car’s finish. It comes with a buffer pad and includes professional-grade chemicals that are safe to use. It is easy to apply, and no additional polish is required for a showroom, scratch-free finish.
Our top choice for a car scratch remover for the money goes to Formula 1 Scratch Out. It is affordable yet effective and has micro-polishing agents that are sure to restore your car’s finish to its original shine. It can be used both on your car’s finish and on the headlights and taillights, all at an affordable price.
There are many scratch removal products available, some of which work beautifully and others that can potentially do more harm than good. It can be a confusing process to find a safe and effective scratch remover for your car, and hopefully, our in-depth reviews have helped you decide which one is the best product to suit your specific needs.
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