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Published Jun. 15, 2021

For car owners, there are few things as bad as the gut punch you feel when you get that first scratch on your car’s pristine paint job. Even if your car is a bit older and has been around the block more than once, getting scratches that detract from the look of your car and hurt its resale value is never fun.

We know that scratches are an inevitable part of life for every car owner, no matter how careful you treat your baby. Luckily, there are some top-quality scratch removal products on the market that can quickly and effectively help restore your paint job to that fresh from the factory quality. In fact, the market is flooded with products that promise to revive and restore your car’s paint to “like new” conditions.

So how do you tell the good from the bad? You want a solid scratch remover that delivers great results quickly. To help you weed through all the options and choose a great scratch remover, Car Bibles has come up with a review of some of the best products. We’ve also put together a handy buying guide so you can learn just what to look for.

The Best Car Scratch Removers

When it comes to the best overall choice for a car scratch remover, the Meguiar’s G17216 Ultimate Compound is tough to beat. This formula is aptly named, delivering high-quality results with a refreshingly low price point. It utilizes exclusive micro-abrasive technology that’s used by professional body shops and detailers to quickly and effectively remove below surface defects.

This compound is capable of removing oxidation, blemishes, and water spots, and won’t leave behind any swirls or small surface scratches. It will also effectively revive your car’s color and clarity. The clear coat safe formula is also safe for single-stage paints and can be applied by hand or with a dual action polisher. If you do apply it by hand, get ready to work up a sweat, though. It requires some concentrated elbow grease to get properly and thoroughly applied. You may also find that you need to repeat the process several times in order to get the desired results.

Key Features
  • Exclusive micro-abrasive technology removes surface scratches and oxidation
  • Apply by hand or with a dual-action polisher
  • Professional-grade scratch removal
Specification
  • Brand Meguiar’s
  • Model G17216
  • Weight 1.1 pounds
PROS

Removes scratches without creating new swirls or marks

Super affordable

Safe for clear coats and single-stage paint jobs

CONS

Can be tough to apply by hand

May require multiple applications for best results

If you’re looking for the ultimate car scratch remover, consider the Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover. This impressive product can repair scratches in your car’s exterior paint, get rid of water spots, and leave your car perfectly buffed and polished. It’s a highly versatile scratch remover, and it’s very easy to use. Specially formulated to “erase” wear and tear and scratches from vehicle paint, even a small amount of Carfidant’s scratch remover can work to make your car’s surface smooth once again. It can even remove years of wear and small flaws, including swirls, oxidation, mineral deposits, and more.

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 glossy finish 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 clear coat, 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.

Key Features
  • Includes scratch removing formula and one buffer pad
  • Safe for use on vehicle clearcoats
  • Versatile for many uses
Specification
  • Brand Carfidant
  • Model 5
  • Weight 8.4 oz
PROS

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

CONS

Will not work on deep scratches

Shine Armor Revive Scratch Repair is a quick and easy-to-apply compound that uses no fillers or waxes. It works to completely remove surface swirls and scratches in a matter of minutes. Some users even report getting great results using the product to remove dullness and scratches from their car’s headlights. It also works great on oxidized areas.

Detail-grade compounds make up this proprietary formula that goes on easily without creating a lot of dust or an overpowering odor. It’s safe for use on chrome and clear coat and goes on easily by hand. While this is a great option for surface scratches, it won’t work on deeper scratches. It’s also a little on the pricey side considering the amount of product you get.

Key Features
  • Detail-grade formula
  • Removes surface scratches, swirls, oxidation, and water marks
  • Contains no waxes or fillers
Specification
  • Brand Shine Armor
  • Model 10
  • Weight 5.6 ounces
PROS

Applies easily by hand

Can work in a single application

Also works to remove scratches from headlights and chrome

CONS

Pricey

If you’re a fan of a multi-step kit that will deliver professional-grade scratch removal results, consider the Quixx System Paint Scratch Remover Kit. It’s an all-inclusive, German-engineered, two-step kit that comes complete with repair paste, finish paste, two polishing cloths, and four strips of fine grit sandpaper.

This scratch removal product gets rave reviews from users as well as leading consumer magazines. Its unique plastic deformation technology formula leaves behind a lasting repair that won’t just wash out after a few trips through the car wash. It does take some time to get it right, but goes on easily by hand without the need of extra tools. You also don’t get very much product, considering its cost. You’ll get a few applications out of it, but not enough to do a major overhaul.

Key Features
  • Long-lasting, professional-grade results
  • 2-step complete kit
  • German engineered
Specification
  • Brand Quixx
  • Model 00070-US
  • Weight 0.33 pounds
PROS

Works well on all gloss (metallic) paint

Premium product

Repairs scratches instantly

CONS

Tiny size

Not cheap

This is an interesting product. Again, this is a complete kit, so you’re getting everything you need all delivered in one box. However, this removal system is designed to work with power tools.

Inside the kit, you get two sachets of a 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 – but the fact the repair compound is in a packet instead of a bottle makes it a one-time use only.

Key Features
  • Complete kit
  • Three step process
Specification
  • Brand 3M
  • Model 39071
  • Weight 4.5 oz
PROS

Works with power tools

Fast and effective

CONS

Product comes in sachet packets — Single use only

TriNova Scratch Swirl Remover is a bit different than many car scratch removers. It might even seem counterintuitive. While many people assume you don’t want to fight scratches and stubborn marks with abrasive material, this abrasive product is highly effective. Made with an advanced formula that can be applied either by hand or with a dual-action orbital polisher, TriNova’s unique car scratch remover can remove scratches, touch up your car’s exterior paint, and fight both blemishes and oxidation.

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.

Key Features
  • 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
Specification
  • Brand TriNova
  • Model 5
  • Weight 14.11 ounces
PROS

Can be used with all vehicle paint colors, including black

Removes paint transfers that can happen during scratching, scraping, or collisions

Diminishes larger scratches

CONS

Should be followed by a clay bar for best results

Cannot remove deep scratches that can be felt with a fingernail

The 3M Auto Advanced Scratch and Scuff Removal Kit is a simple and effective solution for surface scuffs and scratches that are marring your car’s paint job. It’s a comprehensive kit that includes 3M rubbing compound, 3M scratch remover, a fine 3,000 grit abrasive square, a thick foam pad, and in-depth directions that help you restore the look of your car’s paint.

This is a great kit that requires no power tool use. You simply apply it and do the buffing by hand. It’s offered at a decent price point that won’t leave you reeling from sticker shock. The rubbing compound and scratch remover work with all types of automotive paint and clear coats. This product works well, but it does take patience and uses a multi-step approach that takes longer than some other options on our list.

Key Features
  • Eliminates surface scuff and fine scratches
  • Four-piece kit
  • Easy to apply by hand
Specification
  • Brand 3M
  • Model 39087
  • Weight N/A
PROS

Affordable and effective

Application doesn’t require power tools

Can tackle some fairly large scratches and scuffs

CONS

Application is more time-consuming than some other options

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 Chemical Guys Scratch Remover. 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 is removed – this is overall a great product. On the downside, premium products typically come with premium price tags, and this is no different from having one of the higher prices on this list.

Key Features
  • Acts as Compound, Polish & Cleaner
  • Eliminates Surface Imperfections
  • Wax Free Formula
Specification
  • Brand Chemical Guys
  • Model COM_129_16
  • Weight 1.32 lbs
PROS

Easy to Use

Effective

CONS

Expensive

For a fast and affordable single-step scratch remover, consider the HailiCare Car Scratch Remover Cream. This thick and effective cream goes on easily by hand with a soft cloth. It’s ideally formulated for erasing light surface scratches and swirls. It’s made to instantly match any paint color and restore shine and luster.

Unlike some other products on our list, this scratch remover is a thick paste-like consistency that not only buffs scratches and swirls but fills them in at the same time. It’s a solid bang for your buck that will give you multiple applications. It’s noted to be especially effective at removing swirls and damage around vehicle door handles, leaving behind a like-new appearance. This product won’t do a great job on deeper scratches, and it doesn’t last forever. You may find you need to reapply after a few months, depending on how often you wash your car.

Key Features
  • One-step paste formula
  • Completely removes surface swirls and scratches
Specification
  • Brand HailiCare
  • Model 772379
  • Weight 60 grams
PROS

Fast and easy to use

Thick consistency that doesn’t just wash away

Super affordable

CONS

Won’t fill in deeper scratches

Mothers California Gold Scratch Remover 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 with a pretty large-sized bottle too, making it a great product to turn to again and again.

Key Features
  • Works on Any Paint Type
Specification
  • Brand Mothers
  • Model 08408
  • Weight 8 oz
PROS

Easy to use

Long term protection

CONS

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.

Key Features
  • Special formulation against light to medium oxidation
  • Easy to apply formula
Specification
  • Brand Turtle Wax
  • Model T241A
  • Weight 12.5 oz
PROS

Brand name that you can trust

Removes oxidized surfaces

Friendly on the pocket

CONS

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 the 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 polishing equipment — the V36 and V38 can be applied just as easily with your hands.

Key Features
  • Combination of cutting and final finish
  • Ultra-refined surface cutting polish
  • Swirl-free formulation
  • Formulated for moderate to heavy surface imperfections and paint defects
  • Compatible with DA or rotary machine
Specification
  • Brand Chemical Guys
  • Model GAP_VKIT_101
  • Weight 2.45 lbs
PROS

Two finishing formulations work like a charm

Perfect for paint defects and heavy surface imperfections

Versatile application by hand or machine

CONS

Hefty price tag

Best Car Scratch Removers 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.

scratch remover
Scratches and Dents on Car

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.

Types of Car Scratch 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.

Bottled Scratch Removal Compounds

These are the most common and most affordable car scratch removal products. They can range greatly in price and are made up of specially formulated, usually abrasive compounds that buff scratches and swirls out of your car’s clear coat. Some formulas use serious chemical components, while others draw on more natural ingredients that are friendlier to you and the environment. They can range in viscosity from thick and gel-like to thin and watery.

Scratch Removal Kits

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 mitts, 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.

Scratch Removal Paint Pens

Although the name is a little misleading, scratch removal paint pens actually add paint rather than take scratches on your car away but that isn’t to say they aren’t effective. Paint pens are a very good solution when wishing to patch deep scratches where a car’s base metal has been exposed. They come in a range of different sizes and colors and do quite a good job when the color is matched well.

Scratch Removal Cloths

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 car 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 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

remover for car scratches
Car Scratch Remover

How 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.

Top Brands

There is a whole heap of different car scratch removal products currently on the market. Here are the best car care products that we use and trust.

3M

Hailing out of St. Paul, Minnesota, 3M is one of the most respected DIY and commercial chemical product producers in the world. 3M manufactures a massive range of car care products, including some of the best car scratch removers, touch-up paint, and dual action polisher on the market. A particularly good product that you will want to keep an eye for when removing nasty scratches from your car’s surface is their 3M scratch remover.

Turtle Wax

You’ll find the headquarters of Turtle Wax in Illinois. Their team makes some of the best all-in-one products and kits you’re likely to find. Whether it’s scratch and swirl remover, dual action polisher, or any other easy to use scratch repair, you can bet your bottom dollar Turtle Wax makes it.

Meguiar’s

Meguiar’s is another one of the best car scratch product manufacturers out there. Their easy and safe to use ultimate compound color and clarity restorer and polishes are sure to keep your car’s paint and clear coat safe and looking its best. And really when it comes to cut and polish work a good ultimate compound is your best friend.

Trinova

Another very well-respected car care company hailing out of Illinois is Trinova. Trinova manufactures a wide range of products to combat even the worst scuff marks, surface scratches, and those pesky scratches and swirl marks.

Pricing

Under $10

Between $10 to $20

Over $20

Best Car Scratch Remover FAQ:

Q: Do scratch removers work on cars?

Most scratch removers, especially the ones on our list, are highly effective at removing light surface scratches and paint swirls caused by light bumps and rubbing against things. If you have deeper scratches that go all the way down to the primer, most store-bought scratch removers will not be enough to remove that damage. For that, you’re better off trying a touch-up paint or going to a pro.

Q: What is the best scratch remover for a black car?

There are a few scratch remover products on the market that are specially formulated for black cars. Instead of a neutral or cream-colored compound, they use black compounds to more easily blend and hide scratches and blemishes.

Q: How to fix my car paint fade after using the scratch remover?

If you’ve noticed that your car’s paint appears to have faded following the use of a scratch removal product, your best bet is to use a good rubbing compound that’s designed to remove the dull look and restore a like-new shine. These compounds do require prep work and following the manufacturer’s directions precisely. Oftentimes you may also need to use an orbital sander to be successful. Be careful, though, as incorrect application of these types of products can quickly lead to a worsening of your problem.

Q: What is the use of a rubbing compound?

Rubbing compounds are designed to smooth out your car’s clear coat. They can effectively remove surface scuffs and scratches, oxidation, and water stains. Rubbing compounds are abrasive formulas that specifically remove part or all of your car’s topcoat so that a new one can be applied.

Q:  Will I be able to match the paint color with a car scratch remover?

Most scratch removers work universally with all paint colors. They do not impart new paint onto your car, but work to remove a surface layer of clear coating that has been damaged, leaving behind a smooth, buffed layer of clear coat.

Q: Does toothpaste really remove scratches?

Ah, the age-old toothpaste question. For small applications, there is some evidence that toothpaste does, in fact, remove light abrasions or swirl marks, but it’s not nearly effective as good quality, specifically formulated car scratch removal products. 

Q: Can WD 40 remove scratches on a car?

Using WD 40 to remove scratches is possible, but only on very light surface scratches and scuffs. You need to let the product sit on the scratches for 50-60 seconds before wiping away, and the process requires some serious elbow grease. For very little money, you can get a car scratch remover that is much easier to apply and much more effective.

Q: How do I remove deep scratches from my car?

Small scratches and swirls are a piece of cake but deep scratches can really be a pain to be rid of. Your best bet, aside from sanding the area back and repainting, is to try touch-up paint to hide the scratch. Properly removing deep scratches from your car usually requires the help of a professional.

Q: What scratches can be buffed out?

Usually, surface swirls, scuffs, and scratches that don’t reach down to through the entirety of the clear coat can be buffed out. If you have deeper scratches that affect the paint or reach down to the primer itself, those require touch-up paint or treatment by a professional.
removing car scratches

Our Top Pick

After reading through all the great options available for scratch removers, it’s probably easy to see why we chose Meguiar’s G17216 Ultimate Compound as our top pick. It uses micro-abrasive technology to quickly and effectively remove surface scuffs and scratches. You can apply it by hand or with a power tool, and it’s offered at a great price point. 

For a super budget-friendly and easy-to-apply option, check out the HailiCare Car Scratch Remover Cream.

Sources:

  1. 2 Ways to Repair a Scratch – Business Insider
  2. How to Paint a Car – Popular Mechanics

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