You don’t have to be a car detailing expert to remove scratches. We take a look at the best scratch removers available today.
Most of us have been there, despite our best efforts our precious auto ends up with a conspicuous scratch that just won’t buff out. If that’s the case, you might end up looking into specialized car scratch removers but with all the marketing hype to cut through it can be hard to figure out which one is the best for you.
- #1 Turtle Wax 50734 Complete Compound Polishing And Scratch Kit
- #2 TriNova Scratch and Swirl Remover
- #3 Quixx 00070-US Paint Scratch Remover Kit
- #4 Turtle Wax T-241A Polishing Compound – Scratch Remover
- #5 Quixx 10050 Paint Repair Pen
- When Should You Use a Car Scratch Remover?
- How Do Car Scratch Removers Work?
- So What Car Scratch Remover Do I Need?
You may also be interested in our recent review on best dent puller for cars. Below, we take a look at the top 5 best paint scratch removers available today.
#1 Turtle Wax 50734 Complete Compound Polishing And Scratch Kit
- Premium product;
- Easy to use;
- Affordable price.
- Not recommended to use by hand.
At at affordable price range, this still isn’t the cheapest option on our list. However, we’ve declared it the best value car scratch repair kit. It’s reasonably priced, and a great value for a complete repair kit. Turtle Wax is a reputable brand, and this product works quite well.
This comes with both a rubbing and a polishing compound. It also has two foam applicators and two microfiber towels. It works on light to medium scratches. The kit is also helpful for getting rid of stains and other cosmetic flaws.
#2 TriNova Scratch and Swirl Remover
- Works by hand or buffer;
- Includes foam pad;
- Impressive results from users.
- Won’t work on deep or heavy scratches.
Because it’s offered in a 12-ounce bottle, the TriNova Scratch and Swirl Remover is a bit more expensive than any of the other products we have looked at so far. But it’s also a highly rated product on Amazon, with some users posting impressive results with the product. The simple solution features an advanced formula that works either by hand or with a dual-action orbital polisher, and polishes oxidation after cleaning so your car can shine again.
TriNova does make it clear that if you can feel the scratch with the tip of your fingernail, there’s a good chance it’s too deep or heavy to be repaired with a simple polishing compound. This product comes with a foam pad if you opt to use it by hand.
#3 Quixx 00070-US Paint Scratch Remover Kit
- Restores paint;
- Effective scratch removal;
- A little goes a long way.
- Learning curve to usage.
This one is pretty utilitarian. However, it’s easy to use. Available at very affordable price, it’s a pretty good deal for an all inclusive car scratch repair kit. It comes with repair polish, finish polish, sandpaper, and polishing cloths. Once repaired, scratches will not reappear over time.
#4 Turtle Wax T-241A Polishing Compound – Scratch Remover
- Restores paint;
- Effective scratch removal;
- A little goes a long way.
- Learning curve to usage.
Turtle Wax is practically an institution in car maintenance, most vehicle owners have a tub of the stuff somewhere. It’s also fantastic at handling light scratches. If you’re just in the clear coat, you can go over your car with a little bit of extra work and manage to buff out quite a few scratches.
It’s not going to work on rough stuff, but it also shines and protects your paint when applied regularly. If you’re concerned with the aesthetics of your car, it’s something you absolutely should have around. It’s not a one-stop shop, and if it doesn’t do the job after a couple of applications you may need an upgrade but it’s a great start.
Use Turtle Wax when you have light scratches to buff them out. Use it all the time to prevent those mild scratches from happening in the first place.
#5 Quixx 10050 Paint Repair Pen
- Handles all clear coat damage;
- Easy to apply;
- Permanent repair.
- Can be misused easily.
The Quixx Paint Repair Pen has a reputation: it either is a wonder tool or it doesn’t work at all. Unfortunately, the people who fall into the latter category tend to have either ignored the instructions or expected more repair than is possible outside of a body shop.
If you have a deep scratch that isn’t quite in the metal, then this clear coat pen is an ideal solution. It works by applying clear coat from the tip. You’ll need to make several small, thin coats over the scratch in order to do things the best.
If you glob it up, don’t worry about it and instead apply a cutting and polishing compound to smooth it out. It’ll take some patience to get it right, but there’s no need to panic. If you are down to the primer or metal in a big way then you’ll need to find a manufacturer supplied touch up paint and apply this over the top for the best repair possible.
It’s not magical, but it’s the next best thing if you have some serious scratching on your car.
When Should You Use a Car Scratch Remover?
The simple truth is that not all scratches are going to be able to be removed, so it’s important to make sure that you know if you’re working with a lost cause or not right from the outset.
In general, scratch and swirl marks can be removed even if they’re visible to the naked eye, provided that the paint hasn’t actually been scraped down to the bare metal. If you’re looking at the naked quarter panel or door of your car then you’re not going to be able to fix things without painting.
Car paint is actually made of several layers, and you’ll want to assess the damage as best as you can before you begin. The layers are, from outside in:
- Wax Coat(if wax is applied)
- Clear coat
Underneath this is the bare metal of the car’s body of course.
Most damage to the outer coats, without hitting the paint, will be mostly invisible. You might be able to see it at just the right angle, however. If you have a scratch that’s only visible when the light hits it just right then this is probably what you’re dealing with.
Paint damage will be fairly obvious from all angles. These are the scratches most people will be dealing with, but these can usually be handled at home. The same goes for the primer, although you won’t always be able to handle these with a simple process.
Paint pens are a good way to handle the base coat, but you’ll still need to find a polish or wax to refinish the whole process.
Damage to the metal is pretty much irreparable at home. Scratches like this will only occur in rare instances, and you’ll definitely know if you’re in this boat. Often any hits that are this hard will also leave you with a dent.
Once you’ve assessed the damage, it’s time to learn a little bit about how different scratch removers work.
How Do Car Scratch Removers Work?
Car scratch removers are an abrasive compound held in a liquid suspension, the better ones will also have a filler which also helps to hide some of the damage in a deeper crack.
You might be wondering how applying more abrasive material to the already damaged surface of a car can help, but the truth is that’s exactly what any kind of polish is. This isn’t sandpaper we’re talking about after all. And if you were to compare the grits it would work out to something more like 3000 grit or finer.
Polishing anything is a matter of working through higher and higher grits in order to create a shiny finish where the scratches cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Of course, while a good finish can easily handle most scratches, particularly in the clear coat, a bad one can cause further damage. Honestly, some paints just aren’t suited to some scratch removers. So you’ll also want to test any new product in an area where damage can’t be seen just in case.
Basically, what most removers will do is abrade the area around the clear coat lowering the material until it matches with the light scratch which makes it invisible. This is why the majority of them won’t work on really deep scratches.
Touch up pens are also available, which include a pigment and can help to cover things up if they’ve made it into the primer by roughly matching the color of the paint. Even if you go out and buy manufacturer touch up paint, however, these are often still visible during an intense inspection due to UV degradation of the original paint.
So What Car Scratch Remover Do I Need?
If you’ve been following along, you’ve assessed the damage as best as possible already. If you haven’t… well, get on it.
Once you’ve determined the damage, you can take your pick of products. If you’re expecting a miracle, you may be better off praying than attempting to fix it but there’s something out there for everyone if you’re willing to put in the work.
Waxes and general polishes should handle most clear coat and light paint scratches with a bit of extra work. Just apply the wax a little bit heavier than normal and get on it until the scratch is gone and you’ll be in good hands.
You may need to apply a couple layers of wax before things disappear. And if you’re already in the habit of applying wax then you’re in good hands. As it adds an extra layer of protection to the rest of your paint.
If you’re into the paint, then a scratch removal system or cutting compound is probably your best bet. These kits do require a bit of extra work and make sure that you follow the instructions as well as possible for the best results.
You’ll still want to apply a layer of wax over these once you’re finished to return everything to that factory smooth and shiny finish but things aren’t unmanageable at this level. You can also get down to the primer if you work with these too hard, so be careful as you work.
If you’re down to the primer, a pen is your best bet but it’s not a foolproof process. You can either try to find a colored one or go with a clear coat pen. Be careful when applying these, if you apply too much it will stick up a bit from the surface of your vehicle.
Of course, that’s not necessarily a deal breaker, a raised spot can be lowered by application of a cutting compound and then resealed with wax.
Unfortunately, no one has yet come up with a completely fool proof way to get scratches off of your vehicle. But if you’re careful about the product selection then you can definitely take a crack at eliminating the scuffs and scratches on your vehicle. Product selection is your key and with some technique and luck you’ll be looking great on the road again in no time.