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There’s absolutely nothing more heart-sinking than walking up to your car and noticing there’s a scratch — or even a few scratches — visible in your paint job. While it’s a very common danger for every car owner, getting scratches is never fun. Whether your car is new or old, you want to keep its exterior looking sleek, sharp, and well cared for. No one wants to drive around with a clearly scratched vehicle. Though you might not be able to prevent scratches entirely, there are steps you can take to remove and repair them. With the right car care products in your garage, you may be able to completely remove scratches, restoring your car to perfect condition once again. You can check out some of the best car scratch removers right here.
The Best Car Scratch Remover
The paint job on a typical car is actually made up of three layers. The bottom layer provides protection from corrosion, and it also a primer for the second layer that provides the color. The final layer on top is a clear, “lacquer” layer, which is what makes modern cars look shiny.
A scratch remover essentially works by breaking down the top layers. It removes the top layer completely, and works the color layer to fill the scratch, repairing it. It’s important to know that so that you understand that Meguiar’s boast of an advanced formula compound that cuts through the paint layers to repair a scratch quickly, that is a great feature.
In fact, this product is so effective, the only negative is that you do need to take it easy, only apply a little and very carefully repair the scratch.
Advanced Formula – Less Abrasive Than Some Compounds
Works Blemishes, Water Spots and Scratches
- Weight13.6 oz
15 Ounces of Product
Micro Abrasion Technology is Fast to Apply
Powerful Formula – Use with Care
When you apply Carfidant’s Scratch and Swirl Remover, it’ll work to restore your car’s paint. It can remove scratches while providing a coat of gloss and shine. You get eight ounces of product, along with a buffer pad that you can use by hand to gently erase scratches and more. It’s safe for all vehicle paint colors, and it works effectively on clearcoat, single stage, and multi-stage paint. This car scratch remover is even backed by a 100-percent satisfaction guarantee to ensure you’re happy with the results.
Includes scratch removing formula and one buffer pad
Safe for use on vehicle clearcoats
Versatile for many uses
- Weight8.4 oz
Can be used on all paint colors and types of paint
Works on scratches as well as mineral deposits and contaminants
Can be applied by hand or with a buffer or polisher
Will not work on deep scratches
Turtle Wax is an industry leader in car care products, and with good reason. This is a great addition to their range, and the kit provides pretty much everything you need to tackle scratches.
The kit comes complete with foam applicator pads and microfiber towels – both key tools in scratch repairs and often sold separately. In addition, you get two bottles of repair compound. One is milder and designed for very light surface scratches, the other is more abrasive and designed for deeper damage.
No matter how you look at it, this is a great value product that brings everything you need in one convenient package!
2x Compounds with Applicator Pads & Towels
Works on Scratches, Water Marks and Oxidation
- BrandTurtle Wax
- Weight1.3 lbs
Complete Kit – Everything You Need in One Box
Two Different Strength Compounds
Both Bottles Bring 18oz of Product – a Huge Amount!
Price is Quite High – Especially if You Already Have Microfiber Towels
This is another complete kit, similar to the aforementioned Turtle Wax product. Price-wise, it’s also somewhat similar to that kit — size-wise, however, there is a big difference!
You’re only going to get a few applications out of this kit before you are re-ordering it. The point is though you probably will be reordering because this product works! Manufactured in Germany, the modern home of high tech European automobile industries, this product is formulated to effortlessly repair scratches.
The two-step process will quickly repair light surface damage, the included sandpaper is used to rough the area around deeper damage. This product will do a great job, seamlessly repairing damaged paintwork — it’s just a shame they don’t send you more!
Easy, 2 Step Application
- Weight3.2 oz
Works well on all Gloss (Metallic) Paint
Repairs Scratches Instantly
This is an interesting product. Again, this is a complete kit, so you’re getting everything you need delivered in one box. However, this removal system is designed to work with power tools.
Inside the kit, you get two sachets of liquid compound, plus three pads and a power drill attachment. The pads — ranging from abrasive fine sandpaper to foam applicator — are used to apply, buff, and polish the compound from one pack of repair compound.
The fact you can use your power drill to apply and polish means that this product is both fast and incredibly effective. A power drill after all can simply apply that bit more abrasion and polish than you can with a cloth.
The price is pretty cheap — it’s one of the lowest on this list. However, considering the repair compound is in a packet instead of a bottle makes it a one-time use only.
3 Step Process
- Weight4.5 oz
Works with Power Tools
Fast and Effective
Product Comes in Sachet Packets — Single Use Only
This car scratch remover is safe to use on all vehicle paint colors. It can restore shine and keep your vehicle looking its best by fighting — and removing — everything from scratches and scuffs to swirls and contaminants. It’ll work on water spots, paint transfers, and more. This car scratch remover even repairs glaze, leaving behind only a high-gloss finish.
Can be applied by hand or with a buffer or polisher
Lightly abrasive to remove both scratches and other stubborn blemishes
A little product goes a long way
- Weight14.11 ounces
Can be used with all vehicle paint colors, including black
Removes paint transfers that can happen during scratching, scraping, or collisions
Diminishes larger scratches
Should be followed by a clay bar for best results
Cannot remove deep scratches that can be felt with a fingernail
This is a fine, straightforward remover from 3M, a highly regarded manufacturer.
It should be noted that despite the name of Scratch Remover, the wax free formula is not really up to repairing deeper scratches. Instead, like the Formula 1 product above, this compound is more designed to repair very top surface issues like fine scratches with minimal penetration, water spots, and oxidation.
If 3M marketed this product the same as Formula 1 (i.e. that it’s a milder product, more of a polish than a remover) then it would sell a lot better. Don’t buy this expecting it to be a miracle repair for deeper scratches. Buy it knowing that it is milder and gentler for your paintwork than other more abrasive scratch removers.
Eliminates Fine Scratches
Wax Free Formula
- Weight7.8 oz
Cheap and Effective
Can be Applied by Hand or Machine
Only For Fine Scratches
Quite a few of the products on this list have either come in complete kits or with multiple applicators. You don’t get either with this product from Chemical Guys. Instead, you are looking at a complete, all in one product that combines remover compound with polisher and cleaner.
That means you simply apply the product — either by hand or by a powered buffer — and you’re done. From an application point of view, this product is a breeze.
But it also does its job. Scratches are repaired, surface imperfections like swirling are removed, and overall, this is a fantastic product. On the downside, however, premium products typically come with premium price tags, and this is no different, as it boasts one of the higher price points on this list.
Acts as Compound, Polish & Cleaner
Eliminates Surface Imperfections
Wax Free Formula
- BrandChemical Guys
- Weight1.32 lbs
Easy to Use
It’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating — if you are going to name your product so that it has “The Best” or in this case “The Ultimate” right there in the name, then you need to make sure it lives up to its billing. So does this one?
This is a professional formula scratch remover — if you took your car into a bodywork shop, chances are they would be using a similar formula. At the same time, it comes with helpful instructions, formula cloths, and application sponges — aka everything you need to do a top-quality repair at home.
The downside is that this is not a cheap product. In fact, it is far and away the most expensive on this list. It does, however, do a top-notch job. The bottles of formula are also pretty big, so you can get plenty of use out of this kit. You can simply look at it as a long-term investment in protecting your car’s paintwork.
Completely removes up to 80% of Scratches
Easy To Use
Professional Formula Does Its Job
Lots of Formula for Repeated Uses
This product is part of the large and respected range of Auto products from Mother’s. Like the Formula 1 and 3M Remover above, it is best to look at this product as suitable to polish out small surface imperfections than to remove medium to deeper scratches.
This is a great product to clean up high usage parts of the paintwork. For example, around keyholes and door handles where small scratches and imperfections can build up over time.
This product both repairs paint in these instances but also over long term use builds up a protective layer to help prevent future damage. This is a great product therefore to keep on hand for touch-ups and surface repairs. It’s a cheap product that comes in a pretty large bottle too, making it a great product to turn to again and again.
Works on Any Paint Type
- Weight8 oz
Easy To Use
Long Term Protection
Surface Polish More Than Scratch Remover
Turtle Wax has been in the business of creating innovative car care products for many decades so when they put something out into the market, one can always expect car enthusiasts to be especially upbeat about it.
The Renew Rx is not really a scratch remover per se, but rather a very effective polishing compound. It is actually used by many in the reduction if not total elimination of oxidized surfaces such as the headlights and body panels. It only works on light to moderate surface imperfections, though. As such, if you’re actually looking at large, extensive, or even very deep imperfections don’t expect the Renew Rx to return your car to its showroom quality finish.
It should still be a wise buy especially since most of the problems of many car owners are associated with smaller and finer surface imperfections like stubborn stains, blemishes, and even faded color finish. At the very least, you’ll still be very proud of what the Turtle Wax can accomplish for your vehicle.
Special formulation against light to medium oxidation
Easy to apply formula
- BrandTurtle Wax
- Weight12.5 oz
Brand name that you can trust
Removes oxidized surfaces
Friendly on the pocket
Not really a scratch remover, more of a polishing wax
If you’ve got the budget to spare, the V36 + V38 combo kit from Chemical Guys should be an excellent choice. The V36 is perfect for eliminating the scratches made by surface sanding with 2000- to 2500- grit. It’s also perfect for eliminating holograms and swirls.
On the other hand, the V38 promises exceptional professional-grade finishing as it is designed specifically to eliminate the surface marks created by sanding using 2500- to 3000- grit materials. There really is no need to fill the miniature grooves of these scratches nor is there a need to cover them up. The V38’s formulation should be enough to give your car’s surface that mirror-like finish it deserves.
Since you’re actually using two different products, expect that the price tag will be heftier than most. And oh, don’t worry if you don’t have any polishing equipment, as the V36 and V38 can be applied just as easily with your hands.
Combination of cutting and final finish
Ultra-refined surface cutting polish
Formulated for moderate to heavy surface imperfections and paint defects
Compatible with DA or rotary machine
- BrandChemical Guys
- Weight2.45 lbs
2-finishing formulations work like a charm
Perfect for paint defects and heavy surface imperfections
Versatile application by hand or machine
Hefty price tag
In fact, this car scratch remover by Shine Armor is gentle enough to be applied by hand. You can restore shine and smoothness with just a single layer of its formula. Forget about taking your car into the dealership or repair shop for professional fixes — this product makes it both easy and affordable to get quality results on your own.
Delivers professional-grade results
High-quality formula is very versatile
Includes detail-grade compounds
- BrandShine Armor
- Weight5.6 oz
Easy to apply
Can be used for scratches as well as oxidation, swirls, and scrapes
Needs just a thin layer to work effectively
Strong elbow grease is required to achieve results
Can be difficult to rub in by hand
This car scratch remover kit features a formula with microscopic abrasives. Those abrasives work to erase blemishes like light scratches, defects, scuff marks, paint transfer, fingernail marks, and more. It’s clear-coat safe and works on all glossy paints in any color. Once you’re done, you can use the included microfiber towel to clean up and remove residue left behind.
ScratchX 2.0 formula features light, microscopic abrasives
Scratch Eraser Pad attaches to a power drill for better efficiency
Can remove scratches as well as other blemishes
- Weight4.2 oz
Removes scratches without creating new swirls or marks
Works gently yet quickly thanks to its drill attachment
Eliminates the need for physical application
Can leave behind white residue
Only works on light scratches
This car scratch remover is a special rubbing compound that’s like wax in texture and viscosity. Rub it into your car’s exterior surface, and it’ll get to work quickly. You don’t need to mix the product, and it contains no chemicals or potentially toxic ingredients. It can even restore gloss and shine after every use, making your car look more brilliant. Once you’re done, you can buff away the residue with a soft cloth. Backed by a 100-percent quality assurance guarantee, this product will work as you expect it to.
Effective on a wide variety of scratches and blemishes
Special rubbing compound includes no chemicals or toxic ingredients
Comes with sandpaper and a microfiber cloth
- Weight10.2 oz
Prevents scratches from growing
Safe for use with your hands and on all car exteriors
Can leave behind a waxed, polished finish
Won’t work on scratches that reach the primer or a car’s metal surface
Can take time and multiple applications to work
In addition to removing scratches, this product can do even more. It works as both a buff and polish too, so it’ll actually leave your car looking glossier and shinier than it was previously. It gets rid of water spots, oxidation, and all kinds of different wear and tear. Your vehicle will look sleek once again. Made with professional-grade chemicals, this product has no unnecessary dyes or scents. It’s a strong cutting polishing compound that won’t leave behind even bigger woes on black and dark-colored exteriors.
Specially formulated for black and dark paint colors
Removes light scratches, swirls, and other blemishes
Won’t alter or damage black paint
- Weight8.4 oz
Safe for use on all types of vehicle paint and exteriors, including clear coats
Can easily be applied by hand
Doesn’t cause white streaking
Requires strong force to effectively apply
Best Car Scratch Remover Buying Guide & FAQ
There are countless products available that promise to eliminate scratches and remove them completely from your car’s exterior. But many of these products simply can’t live up to their promises. If you’re wondering how to tell quality car scratch removers from less-effective options, you just need to know what makes a product work well. And in order to do that, you’ll want to read our guide on choosing and buying the best car scratch removers.
Types of Removers
Car scratch removers come in many forms. And the type of remover you choose will ultimately determine whether or not you can effectively remove scratches from your car. You have options, but it’s important to understand what those options can do.
The most common kind of car scratch remover is a bottled compound. These products are individual bottles of specially created formulas designed to remove scratches and other blemishes. These include a wide array of ingredients. Some are all-natural without chemicals or other toxic ingredients, while others include compounds. Others feature microscopic abrasives that help sand away scratches. No matter what kind of bottled compound you choose, you’ll get a semi-solid or liquid product that’s made to tackle scratches.
Car scratch remover kits are another popular option. These include both a bottle compound and other accessories intended to make removing scratches and marks easier. This can include microfiber towels or polishing cloths, buffing pads or sponges, and sandpaper. Kits aim to give you all of the tools you might need to complete a multi-step scratch removal process.
Polishes can also be used as car scratch removers. While these products aren’t really formulated to remove scratches and blemishes, they can help eliminate some car exterior surface issues. Applying a polish helps restore shine, gloss, and luster to your vehicle’s paint. It may smooth over scratches and be able to reduce the appearance of some marks. Polish isn’t always ideal for deeper damage, however.
What Types of Scratches Can Be Fixed?
The paint on your car’s exterior might seem like one simple coat, but it’s actually composed of three layers that all work together
to keep your vehicle looking great. So, when your car develops scratches, they can affect your paint in different ways, and that means some scratches are more problematic than others.
Scratch removers are designed to tackle lighter scratches. They can typically handle any scratch that occurs within the top two layers of paint. A remover compound will be able to gently scrub down the edges of the scratch, blending paint in to make it less visible and helping it seamlessly become one with the rest of your car’s exterior.
Car scratch removers do have limitations, however, and they aren’t able to remove deep scratches that go beyond the top two layers of paint. A good rule of thumb is to run your fingernails gently over your car’s surface. If a scratch can be felt with your fingernails, it’s likely too deep to be removed with one of these DIY products. If you can see metal within the scratch, that’s also a sign it needs professional attention.
Related Post: Best Car Body Fillers
Steps to Remove Scratches From a Car
Make sure your car’s exterior is clean. Give it a quick wash and dry to ensure dirt, dust, and other grime doesn’t affect your repair work or, even worse, potentially cause more damage and scratching. You can give the area that’s scratched a bit of extra TLC to ensure it’s perfectly clean.
Next, read the instructions on the product you’ve chosen. Every product will have a different method of application, different amounts needed to be effective, and different guidelines. Assess how you need to apply the product to get your desired result. Determine if you need to have any special equipment or supplies nearby like a microfiber cloth, sandpaper, or electric drill. If you’ve purchased a scratch remover kit, you’ll likely have everything you need already together in one place.
Take a close look at the scratch or scratches you want to remove. If the scratch is shallow and light, you can apply the remover on its own. Based on the instructions, apply the product to a microfiber cloth, sponge, or pad. Work it into the surface of your car using the recommended motion, which is typically back-and-forth or in small circles.
Working with a deeper scratch? Make sure to gently buff it first to smooth out the edges. This will dull the paint a bit too. Wipe away any dust or residue from the sanding, and you can then apply the scratch remover according to its instructions.
Once you’re finished using the scratch remover, you may need to apply polish or wax. You can apply these products to get a protective coating over your newly repaired scratches. You can polish by hand or with an electric buffer or polisher.
Finally, you’ll be ready to enjoy a scratch-free car exterior and a flawless paint job.
Benefits of Using Scratch Removers
There are plenty of benefits that come with using a car scratch remover. You’ll reap so many more rewards than just a sleek and well-maintained exterior — you can actually get a fantastic return on your investment when you buy a scratch remover and put it to work. The following are just a few of the benefits.
You’ll save money. Having scratches on your car’s paint job professionally repaired at a dealership or repair shop can cost hundreds of dollars. If you use a car scratch remover, you can do the work yourself for a small fraction of the price. A little time and effort, along with a small investment, will prevent you from paying significantly for a few light scratches.
You’ll maintain your vehicle. Getting rid of scratches enhances your vehicle’s appearance, but it also helps you keep your car in its best possible shape. That’s an important kind of maintenance that can help you get more life and more miles out of it, even though it might seem like a small fix. Removing small scratches offers protection for your paint, which can help keep your car’s body strong and damage-free.
You’ll increase your car’s value. If you ever want to sell your car, you’ll need to make sure it looks good. And ensuring scratches are removed or repaired is a great way to increase its worth so you get a fair sale price. Using a car scratch remover can help you maintain your car’s appearance so its value stays steady.
These benefits can really pay off in the long run, making a car scratch remover a worthwhile product to invest in.
Best Car Scratch Remover FAQ:
Q: Do scratch removers work on cars?
A: It all depends on the type of scratch that is present on your car. If you’re talking about scratches that cut well into the metal part of the body of your car – beyond the clear top coat – then no scratch removers will ever save your car. Only a professional repaint job will do the trick, although some touch-up paints should do the trick for less obvious deep scratches.
Scratch removers are considered mildly abrasive compounds. Scratches leave a groove on the surface of your car’s top paint. When light strikes the surface of your car, the groove cast shadows making them highly noticeable. The idea in using scratch removers is by ‘scraping’ off a very thin layer of your car’s topcoat so that it will be ‘flush’ with the groove. It won’t cast shadows onto the surface of the car and you’ve got an almost-invisible scratch.
Q: What is the best scratch remover for a black car?
A: Black cars or any other color of the vehicle doesn’t necessarily mean that the different layers of paint on the car are of the same color. The primer will usually be with a different color. Depending on the vehicle manufacturer, several layers of paint finish may be applied one on top of the other with each one carrying an entirely different hue.
If scratches are made on a black car and it so happens that the paint layers underneath are actually light-colored, your best bet at ‘masking’ the scratch is to use a restorative black car remover with wax. It will be quite tricky as you cannot use just any other kind of scratch remover. Remember that scratch removers are actually abrasive, too. Using the wrong product can make the problem worse.
Q: How to fix my car paint fade after using the scratch remover?
A: As already mentioned, scratch removers are mildly abrasive substances that can also cause very fine marks on your car’s paint. Over time, this can be heightened by continued exposure to the elements. Fading paint requires removing the almost-microscopic scratches that scratch removers have left behind. Car detailers often use an appropriate rubbing compound to help remove the dull outer surface of your vehicle’s paint. This requires a lot of prep work which typically includes washing and cleaning your car’s surfaces and removing any surface contaminants.
The application of a rubbing compound requires very precise steps, whether you’re using an orbital sander or applying it by hand. The key here is to apply even pressure on the applicator so that you don’t necessarily create more damage than your car already has. For instance, keeping the wool pad of an orbital sander fluffy is one of the most important elements to ensuring more effective treatment of scratch remover-induced car paint fade. Firm, even pressure is a requirement when applying the rubbing compound by hand.
Once you’re done with the application of the rubbing compound, you’ll need to buff the area immediately. This should be followed with an appropriate car polish to give your car the shine that it needs. Most car detailers don’t stop with car polish, however. They also apply paint sealant to make sure that your car’s re-paint will look really crisp.
Q: What is the use of a rubbing compound?
A: The principal indication of a rubbing compound is in the smoothening of a car’s surface paint. In many cases, it can also be used in the management of heavily-oxidized paint essentially by removing the vehicle’s topmost layer of paint. Many car detailers also use rubbing compounds to help repair scratch marks left by sandpaper or sanding machine as well as other surface contaminants. Rubbing compounds also work to help provide a remedy to deeper and heavier scratches on your vehicle. It is also used in the removal or management of stubborn spotting. Technically, what it does is that a rubbing compound removes part or all of the topcoat so a new one can be applied.
Q: Will I be able to match the paint color with a car scratch remover?
A: A scratch remover only works on superficial scratches such as those that do not penetrate deep and beyond the topcoat. They work by removing a layer of the surface so that it becomes ‘one’ or flush with the groove created by the scratch marks. Technically, you don’t really need to worry about matching the color of your car’s paint with that of a scratch remover. However, if you’ve got a much deeper cut into the paint layers, don’t expect a scratch remover to help you. Touch-up paints usually do a fine job for less extensive damage. But for really severe ones, your best recourse is to have a professional repair it for you.
Our Top Pick
Meguiar’s G17216 Ultimate Compound remains the top when it comes to the best car scratch remover. Its advanced formulation and less abrasive action compared to other products make it the perfect choice not only by avid car owners but also by professional automotive detailers. Its fast application capabilities can also reduce the time needed for effective car scratch management.