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8 Best Car Scratch Removers [Buying Guide]

Get Your Paint Looking Brand New With These Top Car Scratch Removers

Best Overall Choice
Chemical Scratch and Swirl Remover

Chemical Guys Scratch & Swirl Remover

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Best Premium Choice
best car scratch remover

3M Scratch Removal System

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Best Budget Choice
Shine Armor Scratch Remover

Shine Armor Revive Scratch Repair

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best car scratch removers

If you drive your car regularly, odds are that you might begin to notice small scratches on your paint. Even if you have a garage queen who only hits the road on clear, sunny summer days, simply driving your car is eventually going to result in some wear and tear. Because of that plain, hard truth, we’ve scoured the web to find you the best car scratch removers available. Luckily, with the right product and technique, you can get rid of shallow scratches with car scratch remover and soon have a shiny, stunning car again.

Types Of Car Scratch Removers

There are numerous different types of car scratch removers. We’ve outlined a few of the best ones in our buying guide. Regardless of the type you purchase, there are many benefits to keeping a car scratch remover on hand. Removing scratches when you first notice them will maintain the resale value and overall appearance of your car. Especially if you plan on selling the car eventually, having a well-maintained exterior is one of the first things that buyers notice. Additionally, utilizing a car scratch remover at home is a great way to save money by avoiding costly paint repair at a body shop. Finally, maintaining your paint is one way that you can make sure your car holds up well to many miles in the elements. Before we go into the best car scratch removers, let’s first distinguish between the different kinds on the market. 

Scratch & Swirl Remover Compounds

One of the most common forms of car scratch remover is a liquid compound. The main three categories of liquid compounds are rubbing compounds, scratch removal compounds, and polish compounds. Often, car scratch removers contain more than one type of compound.

If a scratch remover has rubbing compounds, this means that it is essentially the most abrasive remover possible. Rubbing compounds are designed to be used on deeper or more-pronounced scratches. You will likely need to polish the paint surface after properly applying a rubbing compound. It goes without saying that scratch removal compounds are what you want in a product. You typically won’t need to do any polishing after the application of a scratch removal compound.

In many products, additional polish compounds are included in the car scratch remover that will work on the paint’s shine while the scratch remover works on the scratches. Note that a polish compound along is probably not sufficient to remove even light scratches.

Scratch Removal Cloths

Unlike microfiber cloths which are commonly used with a product, scratch removal cloths work entirely by themselves to buff out light scratches, swirls, or other marks. Usually, the material doesn’t even need to be wet to get buff out surface scratches. After washing and drying the affected area of your car, simply wipe the cloth over the scratched surface to restore a scratch-free shine.

Scratch Removal Kits

Scratch removal kits are becoming more common. A kit usually contains a scratch remover compound, an applicator, and some other things that may come in handy when removing scratches from your car’s paint job. When purchasing a scratch removal kit, make certain you know exactly what comes in the particular kit. Sometimes, a scratch removal kit may be specified for use with power tools. Other times, they are stand-alone products and are a great way to get everything you need in one purchase.

Touch-Up Paint Pens

If the scratch is deeper than just surface level, you may need to use car touch-up paint instead of a car scratch remover to remove the scratch. The common rule of thumb for knowing when to use a touch-up paint as opposed to car scratch remover is by checking to see if you can see the base metal. Alternatively, if you can feel the scratch with your fingernail when lightly running your finger over the scratch, it might be deep that a car scratch remover will not be sufficient. In the case of deep scratches, using a touch-up paint pen will prevent rust and further damage. To get the job done, follow our complete step-by-step guide on how to touch up car paint.

Our Top Picks For The Best Car Scratch Removers

In this article, we’ve outlined our top picks for the best car scratch removers. Along with that, we’ve answered the most frequently asked questions surrounding car scratch removers and how to properly use them. When you’re done reading, you should have all the information you need to make your car look brand new again!

Best Overall Choice

1. Chemical Guys Scratch & Swirl Remover

Chemical Scratch and Swirl Remover

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The Chemical Guys VSS One-Step Scratch & Swirl Remover works as a compound, polish, and cleaner all at once. It will work on every paint color and is wax and silicone-free, a strong yet safe formula that is gentle enough for use on a car’s paint.

To apply this product, you can either apply by hand using a sponge or cloth or use a power-tool polisher. While the VSS works best on painted surfaces, it can also be applied to glass surfaces to address water spots. Instead of spending extra time polishing your car after removing scratches, you can use this product to combine all the steps into one single step. The polish leaves behind a shiny finish that’ll make your car glisten even on a cloudy day.

Numerous satisfied reviewers noted that they were owners of black cars which are notoriously difficult when it comes to removing scratches and swirls. With that, you can rest easy knowing this Chemical Guys compound can make any car look brand new.

Best Premium Choice

2. 3M Scratch Removal System

best car scratch remover

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With this 3M Scratch Removal Kit, you get everything you need to remove car scratches in a simple three-step process. These 3M products are capable of removing surface scuffs and scratches off of your car’s exterior. With this kit, you can sand, compound, and polish the affected area. This kit is a great option if you have a lot of surface damage around high-touch areas such as door handles, door panels, and trunks.

Included in this kit, you’ll find 3000-grit sandpaper to lessen the scratch, one 3M rubbing compound, one 3M scratch remover, one compounding pad, and one black polishing pad. Along with that, the kit contains a step-by-step guide. In addition to the kit, you’ll need to have a microfiber towel, some paper towels, and water. This is optional, but you do have the option to use a standard household drill with the compounding pad or the black polishing pad if you desire.

It’s important to note that, like most car scratch removers, this kit is designed to remove light scuffs and scratches that don’t go much deeper than the clear coat.

Best Budget Choice

3. Shine Armor Revive Scratch Repair

Shine Armor Scratch Remover

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The name says it all — the Shine Armor Revive Scratch Repair will revive your car’s paint job back to its shiny, smooth glory in no time. The product has no wax or fillers and is formulated to remove scratches, polish the paint, and act as an oxidation remover all at once. And though it isn’t necessary for a car scratch remover to smell good, the pleasant grape scent of this compound is a bonus.

With the use of this product, Shine Armor promises no streaking. You can either opt to apply it by hand with a microfiber towel or use a polisher. If you don’t use a buffer, be prepared to use quite a bit of arm strength. Trust us, the elbow grease will be worth it in the end.

In addition to restoring your paint’s scratch-free shine, applying Shine Armor to your car’s exterior will also prevent future rust and corrosion.

4. Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover

best car scratch removers

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The Carfidant Scratch & Swirl Remover provides simplicity and ease of use in the best way possible and comes with a buffer pad as an applicator. All you need to do is simply apply the remover to the applicator and begin the process. The formula is safe to use on all paint finishes. In addition to removing imperfections such as scratches, swirls, oxidation, and water spots, the Carfidant scratch remover gives your paint a gloss and shine like it had when it was brand new.

This remover is both dye-free and scent-free, for a gentle and effective product. If for any reason, you aren’t 100% satisfied, Carfidant will give you a full refund with no questions asked. The product can be applied by hand or by using an orbital polisher.

As with other car scratch removers, this remover is meant to remove light surface scratches or marks and will not be effective on deep scratches.

5. Meguiar's Ultimate Compound Scratch and Swirl Remover

car scratch and swirl remover

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Meguiar’s make quick work of any surface defects in your paint as quickly as an abrasive product would. But don’t worry — this scratch remover is gentle and will not add any further scratching or swirling to your car’s paint job. The Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound removes surface scratches, swirls, oxidation, water spots, and other blemishes to make your paint look striking again.

This formula is will work well even on old paint. Meguiar’s recommends either applying it by hand using microfiber cleaning pads or by using a polisher. This product will remove scratches and restore color to your paint all at once.

Be certain to wash your car prior to applying this product. It is best to work in a cool, dry place instead of directly in the sun. Once you apply the product and wipe it away, you may need to repeat the process a few times until the imperfection is fully removed.

6. Carfidant Black Car Scratch Remover

best car scratch removers

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Black paint is notorious for showing scratches more prominently. With that, the scratches can be more difficult to remove. If you own a black car, consider using a car scratch remover specifically meant to removes scratches from black paint. Carfidant put together a formula that is specifically suitable for dark paint of all colors, not just black. The formula comes with an included buffer pad so you can easily remove scratches using just a bit of elbow grease.

In addition to removing surface scratches from your dark-colored car, this product also removes swirls, oxidation, and water spots. If you aren’t satisfied, you can return this product for a full refund.

Note that with black cars, it is important to be careful when repairing any paint job imperfections. If the scratches are deep and you can’t buff them out, you may want to bring your car to a body shop for a professional touch-up.

7. Turtle Wax Premium Scratch Repair Kit

car scratch repair kit

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The Turtle Wax Premium Scratch Repair Kit takes a slightly different approach when it comes to removing scratches from your car’s exterior paint. The kit utilizes varying grit sandpaper, polishing pads, spray lubricant, paint clarifying compound, and a clearcoat finishing pen to address varying levels of scratches.

For lighter scratches, you can simply use the polishing pads and the clarifying compound. For slightly deeper scratches, you can use the sandpaper and finishing pen alongside a car paint touch-up pen that matches your vehicle’s color to fully remove the imperfections.

To use the paint clarifying compound, Turtle Wax recommends applying it to the polishing pad and rubbing over the scratch or swirl for about a minute. No matter what level of scratch you are working on, always be sure to begin this process on a fully clean car. In addition to the items in this kit, we recommend using a clean microfiber towel to wipe off the compound once you are finished. If you opt to use a paint touch-up pen for deeper scratches, exercise caution so as to not damage the surrounding area.

8. Camtoa Car Scratch Remover Cloth

car scratch remover cloth

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A newer development in removing car scratches is car scratch remover cloths. Once your car is fully clean, you can use one of the cloths to rub out any scratches or other surface-level blemishes on your car’s paint job. Alongside the Camtoa Car Scratch Remover Cloth, you’ll receive instructions that you should read prior to beginning the process.

When using the cloth, you may want to wear gloves, as the cloth is slightly rough to the touch and is scented. After buffing out the scratch, we recommend wiping your car’s surface with a clean microfiber towel to remove any dust buildup.

Be sure not to rub too hard. And first, practice on another unimportant paint surface a few times to make sure the cloth is working as expected before scrubbing your car. While we don’t condone using an actual magic eraser to get rid of scratches, this car scratch remove cloth may be the next best option!



Key Features To Look For In Car Scratch Removers

There are a few key features to look for in a car scratch remover beyond just good reviews. First, you’ll want to note the level of abrasiveness. Overall, scratch remover will be more abrasive than car polish. And if there are rubbing compounds in the remover, that makes it even more abrasive. Some scratch removers will note the level of abrasiveness while others will provide the ingredients for you to decide.

When finding a scratch remover, you’ll also want to note what kind of scratches the product covers. For instance, kits with buffing pads may be more suitable for removing slightly deeper scratches while liquid compounds may be only meant for surface scratches. Along with that, look for a car scratch remover with polish compounds if you also want to restore the shine of your paint job along with buffing out surface scratches.

Before purchasing, check to see whether the remover can be applied by hand with a cloth and a bit of elbow grease or whether a power tool is recommended. In addition, check to make sure the scratch remover is compatible with all paint jobs and paint colors. Other features to consider include cost, level of experience needed to use the products, and the amount of time the project will take.

Make Your Car Even More Immaculate

If your new scratch remover inspires you to go all out, be sure to check AutoWise’s Car Cleaning & Maintenance tips. If you have chipped paint or other blemishes, check out the easy step-by-step processes to touch up car paint and get paint off a car. Along with that, give your whole exterior an added shine by buffing your car.

More often than not, washing your car by hand can sometimes cause scratches. Instead, use a foam cannon with a pressure washer to reduce the risk of scratching your vehicle and keep your paint looking great.



Frequently Asked Questions

How do I use car scratch remover?

First off, it is best to use a car scratch remover right when you first notice the scratch. The application will vary from product to product. Regardless, we recommend always wearing rubber gloves when using any kind of car scratch remover compound. Make sure you thoroughly read the directions and any warnings. After all, the last thing you want to do is mess up the paint on your car more!

Before beginning the process of using the scratch remover, you’ll want to first wash your car. You can either wash the entire car or just wash the affected area. Then, visually mark the scratch above and below with masking tape. Next, apply the scratch remover to a microfiber towel or obtain a scratch remover cloth. Spread the remover over the affected area as directed. Using some good old fashioned elbow grease, buff the area to remove the scratch. Once the product is completely dried, wipe the area clean using a clean microfiber towel.

If there are still remnants of the scratch, repeat the process until it is gone. If needed, apply the scratch remover to the surrounding area and then wipe it off to give the paint one final seal and blend.

How can I tell how deep the car scratch is?

To tell how deep the scratch is, you’ll want to first take into consideration how it looks. For instance, if you can see the metal, then it is a deep scratch.

You can also feel it with your finger or fingernail. If the scratch is obviously concave, it is likely a deep scratch. In this instance, you may need more than just a car scratch remover to remove the scratch.

Surface scratches that can be removed with car scratch remover will still feel mostly smooth when you run your finger over them.

How does scratch remover work?

Car scratch removers generally contain products such as wax or other polymers meant to remove imperfections from automotive exteriors by gently buffing out the imperfection in the clear coat. The scratch remover is usually mild so that it does not remove paint from the car or cause additional scratches. With that, the addition of a polishing or rubbing compound will make the product more abrasive.

Will scratch remover work if the paint chipped off?

If the scratch is large and deep enough that the paint has visibly chipped off, you may need more than just a scratch remover. Use touch-up paint to reduce further chipping and rust. Or if you’re worried about the paint getting further damaged, consider getting a full wax or paint job from a professional.

How do I remove deep scratches from my car?

To remove deep scratches, it may be best to get an estimate from a local body shop before attempting to resolve it on your own. With a deep scratch, there is more risk of further damage if it is not repaired correctly. Just using a rubbing compound or scratch removal kit will probably not do the trick.

Are there any effective DIY ways to remove scratches from a car?

If you Google “DIY ways to remove scratches from a car,” the most common answers that will come up are using either a magic eraser or toothpaste to remove scratches. With that, we do not recommend using any product on your car’s exterior that isn’t especially meant for car paint. The last thing anyone wants is for your paint to become more damaged when all you’re trying to do is fix a small scratch.

Instead, we recommend purchasing a car scratch remover and keeping it on hand in your garage so that you can remove surface scratches safely and easily as you see them. There are several budget-friendly options, so you don’t have to break the bank to keep your car looking great.

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

For black cars, the scratches tend to be more noticeable and, thus, trickier to remove from the paint. In our buying guide, we’ve highlighted the Carfidant Black Car Scratch Remover as the best remover to use if you have a black car. Just remember, paint swirls will also be more noticeable on black paint as a result of using any kind of polishing compound. With that, depending on the type of paint correction you are needing, it may be best to get a professional detail to avoid any damage.



Joybeth Sullivan
About Joybeth Sullivan

Joybeth Sullivan is an accomplished content creator. She does it all as a writer, photographer, and videographer. Her work has been published in local and international outlets. She graduated from the University of Georgia in May of 2020 with a dual-degree in English & Film. Today, she is based out of Denver, CO. When she isn't writing, you can find her on long drives in the mountains with her husky, Newman, riding shotgun.