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These days, its not a matter of “if” you’ll get a scratch, it’s when. Unfortunately, bodywork scratches happen often and they cost a premium to fix. Luckily, you don’t have to be a detailing specialist to remove unsightly scratches or even paint transfers.

Best Overall
Meguiar’s
16 oz
Best Value
Shine Armor
4 oz
Best on a Budget
Chemical Guys
16 oz

These repair kits can help to remove light to medium scratches. They all come with a scratch removal compound, but some also come with abrasive materials like wet sanding sponges and pads.

The Best Car Scratch Remover

Let’s explore some of the better options!

1. Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound

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Meguiar has a dominant brand in the car industry for a long time, and their products have become synonymous with high quality. Therefore, with Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound, you can be sure to remove light to medium marring with ease.

This compound is designed to remove all sorts of paint defects, including scratches, blemishes, oxidation, and water spots. It uses a specialized formula that works in the same way as some of the more abrasive compounds, but without the risk of damaging the paint. Its micro-abrasive technology will also provide a nice finish and gloss, making your car look shiny and new.

The compound is easy to use and can be applied by hand. However, if you do decide that you need cleaning pads and brushes, bear in mind that you have to buy them separately.

  • Pros: Can easily fix minor scratches. Fixes other surface imperfections (water spots, oxidation, etc.)
  • Cons: Don’t expect it to fix deep scratches

2. Shine Armor Revive Scratch Remover

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Here is another product that will exceed your expectations. Shine Armor’s scratch remover is a great new compound that will make your car look factory-fresh.

First and foremost, the product will get rid of scratches and swirls without damaging the paint. You can even use it on deeper scratches. Moreover, it can help you get rid of other sorts of damage, such as oxidation and water spots, making your car look brand new.

The remover features an advanced formula, without any fillers and waxes, so you can be sure that you are buying a quality product. All in all, it will leave your car with a smooth surface and protect it from various elements.

  • Pros: Leaves your car scratch and swirl-free. Can also be used for removing oxidation and water spots, as well as on windows. Features no filler or waxes.
  • Cons: The Bottle is rather small

3. The Ultimate Car Scratch Remover System

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If you are looking for a truly professional product, the Ultimate Car Scratch Remover System will be the right pick for you. This all-inclusive kit is commonly used by both car aficionados and body shops alike.

The box set includes the compound, as well as other accessories that will help you remove scratches and swirls. You won’t need to worry if you have all the tools necessary, as they are all provided in the kit.

The compound offers superior results and will remove all sorts of scratches from your car. Most of the tools are also reusable, such as the wet sanding sponge. The bottle contains plenty of formula, so you will be able to get rid of dozens of scratches.

Finally, the price is something everyone considers when choosing a product, and this car scratch remover is not cheap. However, as there is enough product for much more than just one use, think of it as a long-term investment.

  • Pros: Reusable components. The formula works effectively and there is enough for multiple applications.
  • Cons: More expensive than other car scratch removers.

4. Chemical Guys Scratch and Swirl Remover

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While some of the previously mentioned products include different accessories, with this scratch remover, all you get is the compound. However, it is all you need! Chemical Guys Scratch and Swirl Remover is an effective product that will get rid of all the surface imperfections.

It can be used as a polish and a cleaner, so if you are a fan of 3-in-1 products, this will be a great solution for you. No other tools are required — all you need to do is apply the compound on the scratch. Even if you have no experience at all at removing scratches and swirls, you will still find it quite easy to use.

The remover works on all body colors, and it is meant for moderate scratches only. Still, even though it can’t completely fix deep scratches, it will disguise them well.

  • Pros: It’s a 3 in 1 compound: compound, polish, and cleaner. There is no wax or silicone in the formula and it’s easy to apply. 
  • Cons: It’s only for minor and medium scratches. It’s also a bit more expensive than other products.

5. 3M Scratch and Scuff Removal Kit

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3M Scratch and Scuff Removal Kit has become quite popular since its launch, and for a very good reason. First of all, the kit offers everything that you might need to remove the scratches. It includes the rubbing compound, scratch remover, an abrasive square, and a foam pad. Therefore, if you opt for this kit, you won’t have to buy any other tool.

Next, the compound is very effective. It will not only remove the scratches but also restore the shine and gloss, adding a clear layer that will protect the surface. It will be like the scratches never happened.

Another advantage of the 3M Scratch and Scuff Removal Kit is that it includes a simple manual and is easy to use. On the other hand, this product is meant for only minor and medium scratches, so it won’t work on the deeper ones.

  • Pros: Comes with all the tools you need. Simple and easy to use at a reasonable price. 
  • Cons: Doesn’t work on deeper scratches.

Factors to Consider in a Car Scratch Remover

scratched car

Finding the right car scratch remover is easier said than done. It requires the willingness to do your research and understand what the underlying issue is. Some car owners may hesitate during the buying process because the wrong choice could damage their vehicle. As long as the right approach is taken, buying the best possible product is not as difficult as it may seem.

Figuring Out the Depth of the Scratch

The first thing you have to do is analyze your vehicle’s scratch and how it looks. A white-colored scratch is good as it’s easier to handle. This type of scratch tends to impact the clear coat and any type of remover will get the job done. However, if the scratch matches the body’s basecoat then it may be time to find a more specialized car scratch remover.

While scratches that go through all layers of paint may need professional repair work to help replace the paint. In general, the goal is to make sure everything matches at the end. It’s also important to look at the scratched area and make sure to clean it thoroughly. This helps with the assessment phase.

Analyzing the Car’s Scratches

There are four different layers to a car’s exterior and each one can be scratched.

paint transfer anatomy

Layer 1: Body Panel

This is the layer of the vehicle’s exterior. This means it’s the actual frame of the vehicle and tends to stay hidden under everything else. Having a scratch get down to this level means it’s a deep, issue that will require a proper solution. The average scratch remover isn’t going to get the job done because of how far the scratch has gone. To fix this problem, it may be time to consult a professional to strip down the paint and rework everything.

Layer 2: Primer

With the second level, you’re looking at the vehicle’s primer, which is used to paint on top of the body. This coating is used to help prepare the metal body for the next coat. This ensures the paint can stick and allows it to last longer. The primer is also seen as a way to protect the metal body from external elements. There are many elements to think about and one of them has to do with rust-related damage.

Layer 3: Basecoat

The vehicle’s basecoat is the third layer applied to the vehicle. This is when the color is chosen.  This layer tends to get scratched on occasion if the exterior is damaged.

Layer 4: Clearcoat

This is the final coat and is similar to the basecoat. With the clear coat, you are looking at a resin-based paint that is applied after everything else is in place. The idea of this is to add a bit of protection on top of the basecoat. This also adds shine to the body, which is essential when it comes to keeping the car looking new. For most situations, this is where a scratch tends to occur and often happens to be white in color.

Types of Removers

In general, there are many different types of scratch remover. The average scratch remover often won’t remove the scratch even if it details as being able to. In essence, the scratch remover only fills in the area and hides the scratch.

Most car owners will notice two methods/solutions while looking through different options – compounds and abrasives.

Compounds

The compound scratch removers are designed to help fill in the scratch. This means as soon as the compound dries, it gets rid of the scratch. When used alongside a buff/polish material, the vehicle tends to go back to how it was and the scratch disappears.

This is why most car scratch removers tend to include the polish alongside the main formulation. While looking at the different options, you’ll notice these compounds for their abrasive texture.

Abrasives

The second method uses an abrasive such as the traditional 3M scratch removal kits above. These abrasive methods aim to work on the layers around the scratch. By working on these areas, the scratch starts disappearing and looks far smaller to the naked eye.

To make sure the finishing is perfect, these abrasives also come with additional polish for touch-ups. The kit is great as long as it is used properly, which isn’t always the case. This method is only good for those with experience.

Tips For Using a Car Scratch Remover

white paint scratches

Before working away at the scratches, it’s time to wax your car. The removal process isn’t easy when your car isn’t ready to be worked on. With the waxing, you are going to ensure the vehicle is properly protected and doesn’t have to deal with unnecessary scratches later on. It’s all about emphasizing how the vehicle looks.

If you are going to be working with a new scratch remover compound, it may be smart to work on a small area. A good example of this would be the rear bumper or running boards because those aren’t the most noticeable. You want to make sure these areas aren’t made of plastic. Buffing plastic isn’t as easy as metal, which is something you should keep in mind before testing.

The smart thing to do is to take before and after pictures. This allows you to see what’s worked and what hasn’t. You don’t want to view results based on how hard you’ve worked. Remember, this is an aesthetic job and has to be managed without bias. You want to make sure the removal has been done properly.

Don’t assume you are going to burn the car’s paint with hand applications. The hand isn’t fast enough to do this because it doesn’t create enough friction on the car’s body. However, it is possible while using a hand tool like a buffer which may create too much friction and lead to the paint melting.

The car is sensitive and even a touch-free car wash may damage the vehicle. There are times where hand washing is the only way to go if you want to keep the vehicle scratch-free.

Scratch Remover Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What does a car scratch remover do?

A: In general, a scratch remover works by melting the clear coat, filling in the scratched area(s), and implementing heat. When done right, the scratch tends to disappear and that’s what guarantees the aesthetic change.

Q: How does a car scratch remover compare to a scratch eraser for cars?

A: There are a few details to ponder over when it comes to this comparison. The average scratch tends to happen close to the surface and can be handled with something as simple as a scratch eraser. However, anything else requires a more heavy-handed solution such as a car scratch remover. Most people use scratch erasers for small scuff marks that appear from time to time.

Q: What is the difference between a scratch remover and rubbing compound?

A: The rubbing compound is going to have a more abrasive quality to it. It is often regarded as liquid sandpaper by experts. A good example may be traditional sand versus something found close to a river. There is a different texture to rubbing compounds compared to the average car scratch remover.

Q: How can I determine how deep the scratches are on my car?

A: There are different approaches a person can take with their car. You should start with something as simple as a visual inspection. Is the car scratch white? This means it’s quite deep. Can you feel the scratch while running your fingernail across it? If it is, this means it’s deeper than a surface scratch. Regular scratches will not allow your fingernail to get stuck.

Conclusion

Inspect your scratches, determine the level of damage, and settle on your plan of action. If the scratch is deeper, likely the products above won’t work very well. However, superficial scratches can repaired quite easily.

References

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Richard Reed
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