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Regardless of how carefully you park and drive your car, it’s almost impossible to avoid getting a swirl mark or scratch on its paintwork. In some instances, you can take your car to a professional body repair shop to get the scratches fixed.
Unfortunately, this is not an option for many car owners since it’s not the most time- or cost-efficient approach.
Instead, many people are now opting to fix any light scratches on their cars in the comfort of the garage. Luckily, provided you’ve got one of the best scratch removers for car paint, you can easily make those scratches on your car’s clear coat disappear.
Scratch removers are designed to get rid of certain scratches on your car’s paintwork to make it look new again and improve its overall appearance. But where do you even get started when looking for the perfect scratch remover for your car?
Well, you’re certainly on the right path! First, here’s something you need to know before you embark on your journey to find the best scratch remover for your ride!
What’s a scratch remover?
Sometimes known as car scratch polish, a car scratch remover is a product that is specifically designed to cheaply and conveniently get rid of car paint scratches.
It’s usually a polish compound that can be applied with a polishing machine, wax pad, polishing cloth, or an old T-shirt, provided it doesn’t have zippers and buttons.
The best car scratch removers remove car wash scratches, deep & superficial scratches, holograms, and swirl marks. Even better, they can restore dull car paint to its original shine.
Different types of car paint scratches
Car paint consists of several layers including the base coat, color coat, and a clear coat. First, the car manufacturer covers the bare metal with a primer. Primers adhere tightly to the bare metal, smooth out minor imperfections, and offer a microscopically rough surface for the color/ base coat to adhere to.
Afterward, they spray an extremely thin, but hard layer of clear coat over the color coat to protect from environmental elements.
In short, a clear coat offers the most protection to the car paint finish. Besides, water can easily go through the metal through the base coat since it’s much softer.
Unfortunately, the clear coat is vulnerable to various types of scratches. According to the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST), the most common causes of car paint scratches tend to damage the first 2 -3 coats on an average car. However, sharp objects like keys can create deep scratches that go all the way down to the 4th layer.
Most light scratches are relatively easy to fix with a scratch remover, but if you have a deep scratch, scratch removers might not do the trick.
So, before you decide to buy a scratch remover, it’s a good idea to identify the type of car paint scratches you’re dealing with. This will help you determine whether you should take the vehicle to a car paint expert or a simple DIY job that will get the issue fixed.
With that in mind, here are the most common types of car paint scratches you’re likely to encounter;
Light scratches are easy to remove since they’re only in the clear coat. However, before you get rid of these scratches, make sure you clean the car’s surface first. Rubbing dirt into the car paint may create additional scratches.
Once the surface is clean, apply the scratch remover, rub it into the scratch you want to remove for a minute, then wipe it away.
A car paint scratch is classified as a ‘medium scratch’ if it goes through the color coat/ lacquer. These types of scratches are usually visible as white scratches and are more difficult to remove than light scratches.
Like with light scratches, it’s important to clean the car’s surface with good quality, clean microfiber cloth before you fix medium scratches. Next, add some wax to the car paint to act as an additional layer of protection.
Deep scratches go all the way through the car paint layer. For that, they’re easily recognized since they penetrate into the metal layer. Unfortunately, these scratches are almost impossible to fix, especially if significant damage is involved.
In most cases, you can only reduce the visibility of these scratches after simply brushing and applying polishing compounds. Alternatively, you can use products that are specially designed to remove deep scratches, usually available as markers or in spray form.
Nonetheless, some deep scratches are difficult to remove completely and can only be fixed at a professional body repair shop.
Swirl marks are usually caused by light rain and snow that has collected on the car’s hood/ roof overnight. The best way to repair swirl marks is to avoid them in the first place by covering the car with the best outdoor cover during the winter season.
Also, you can protect the car by keeping it clean and polishing it with premium-quality car waxes. However, if your car already has swirl marks, you can use a scratch remover to remove them.
Decide the type of car paint scratch remover you want to use
After determining the type of scratches on your car’s paintwork, the next step is to choose an appropriate scratch remover. As mentioned earlier, most scratch removers can remove scuffs and minor scratches on the car paint.
However, some are designed to deal with deep car paint scratches that have been caused by sand or grit. Also, some contain special formulations that can remove stains and light oxidation on the surface of your car’s paintwork.
Whichever the case, it’s important to be careful when choosing the type of scratch remover you intend to use. If you’re not careful, you may end up making the situation worse, especially if you use the wrong scratch remover on the wrong type of damage.
On the bright side, we’ve reviewed the 5 best scratch & swirl mark removers for car paint below to help you find the right product for your needs!
5 Best Scratch Removers for Car Paint
1. Chemical Guys VSS Swirl & Scratch Remover
Although Chemical Guys is a premium brand in the car care industry, its scratch & swirl remover is quite affordable. Yet it can effectively get rid of any moderate to heavy surface imperfections on your car’s paintwork.
So, if you’re looking for a high-end scratch remover that will eliminate car paint defects like water spots, light scratches, and swirl marks, this one-step scratch remover from Chemical Guys is an excellent option.
At the same time, it produces a glossy mirror finish on your car surface, saving you time and effort. This is because it contains mild abrasives that break down as you buff your car’s surface.
As a result, it starts out as a compound that eliminates oxidation and scratches but evolves into a shiny finish, leaving you with a smooth surface.
In addition, this product doesn’t contain any silicone or wax. This allows its innovative abrasives to cut fast to remove swirls, oxidation, scratches, and fine 2500-grit sanding marks in no time. Also, this makes it quite effective on single-stage ceramic finishes as well as clear coat paints.
On the downside, this scratch remover dries quickly due to its thick nature, making it a poor option for hand rubbing. However, if you’ve got a dual-action and rotary polisher, it’s relatively easy to apply and safe to use on all car paint color finishes.
- Comes in a 16 oz bottle
- Ideal for use on all color finishes
- Eliminates scratches, water spots, swirl marks, etc.
- Acts as a polisher, cleaner, and a compound
- One-step application process
- Silicone- and wax-free formula
- Not ideal for hand-rubbing
2. Carfidant Scratch & Swirl Remover
While this single-product solution from Carfidant doesn’t remove deep scratches, it’s very effective when it comes to medium scratches and swirls on your car’s surface.
Best of all, it’s suitable for use on various types of car paint, including single/ multi-stage finishes & clear coats. And unlike the Chemical Guys scratch remover we reviewed above, this product can either be applied by hand or by an orbital buffing machine.
On top of that, it even comes with a foam applicator that you can use to apply the scratch remover on minor scratches. This makes it easy and fast to apply since you only need to put some liquid on the pad and buff it into the scratch you want to remove. Plus, the product leaves a shiny, glossy finish on your car’s paintwork.
Lastly, this professional-grade formula doesn’t contain any unnecessary dyes or color scents, making it as environment-friendly as possible. Moreover, apart from removing scratches on any car paint color/ finish, it’s a great product for restoring the paint to make the paintwork look shiny & new again!
- Restores paint and leave a shiny finish
- Safe on all car paint colors & finishes
- Includes a buffing pad
- Comes in an 8.4 oz (250 ml) bottle
- Removes minor scratches, oxidation, etc
- No scents or dyes
- Not effective at removing deep scratches
3. 3D One Hybrid Car Scratch Remover
If you want a scratch remover that removes light scratches and swirls, while adding a protective layer of wax to your car paint finish, this 3D Speed Car polish & Wax might be all you need.
Instead of hiding or masking scratches, the product fills them in and creates a permanent connection to your car paint. Mover, it acts both as a polishing and waxing compound, eliminating the need to buy 2 separate products.
To be precise, its formula contains montan wax instead of carnauba wax. As a result, it offers a gloss look, long-lasting protection, and better heat resistance than you’ll ever get from the best car waxes on the market.
Moving on, the polish/ wax combo helps to restore your car’s color in large and small areas. Especially seeing that it doesn’t leave any residue on the plastic trim after application.
Talking of application, this product is relatively easy to apply and buff out. On the same note, you can either apply it by hand or with a dual-action polisher to get rid of those light defects on your car’s paint job.
Interestingly, it will not wear out, fade, peel, or wash off, even after washing your ride. Instead, this hybrid 2-in-1 rubbing & polishing compound will restore dull and weathered car paint to its original shine right away!
- Works on paint, metal, plastic, and chrome
- Removes swirls and scratches
- Safe and effective scratch remover
- All-natural water-based formula
- Heavy-duty polishing & rubbing compound
- All-in-one polish and wax
- Easy to apply & puff out
- Does not work well on wet surfaces
4. Nu Finish Scratch Doctor Car Scratch Remover
Nu Finish Scratch Doctor is another incredible scratch remover for eliminating minor scratches and surface scratches on your car’s paint job. In addition, the creates acts as a filler to reduce the severity of scratches and light scuffs.
However, the most stand-out feature about this scratch remover kit is that it also includes a car polish and 2 convenient microfiber cloths. The car polish helps to restore the car paint’s shine, while the reusable microfiber cloths make it easy to apply the products.
More importantly, the microfiber cloths allow you to get rid of swirls and scratches on your car paint without leaving any residues or blemishes.
Still, on application, you don’t need any technical knowledge to use this scratch remover kit as it’s relatively easy to apply. Just apply the scratch remover cream on every blemish on your car paint with a damp cloth.
Let it dry, then wipe it off with the provided microfiber cloth. Finally, apply the included car polish to give your car a glossy lock and an extra layer of protection.
- Easy to use
- Comes with all the essential
- Non-abrasive formula
- Ideal for tiny blemishes and light marks
- Perfect paint care kit for cars, trucks, RVs, boats, etc.
- Not great for deep scratches
5. Meguiar’s G17216 Ultimate Compound
Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound is a brilliant product for tackling above-surface defects such as bird poop residues, tree sap, paint overspray, dust, and road grime.
Surprisingly, it also makes it extremely easy to handle sub-surface defects like stains, acid-rain etching as well as swirls and scratches. For that, it’s a perfect option for anyone trying to remove scratches and other surface imperfections from their car paint.
In addition, this product makes cloudy-looking paint look new again, yet it’s more affordable than similar rubbing compounds. And unlike other scratch removers, you don’t need a dual-action polish to apply this compound since it’s totally safe to use by hand with a microfiber towel.
However, if you want excellent results, I’d recommend that you invest in some sort of polishing machine like Meguiar’s MT300 Dual-action polisher.
Apart from cleaning swirls and scratches, this compound adds an exquisite gloss finish and deep shine to your car’s paint.
Not to forget that it can also enhance the appearance of dull matte-colored vehicles. Even better, it’s safe and effective to use on single-stage paints and clear coats.
- Eliminates scratches, swirls, and water spots
- Uses exclusive micro-abrasive technology to add a high glossy finish
- Safe for use on clear coat & single-stage paints
- Easy application
- Not ideal for use in direct sunlight
Things to Consider when buying the best scratch remover for Car Paint
Some car scratch removers are specially designed for black finishes, while others work more aggressively which can be too much for minor imperfections. In short, all scratch removers for car paint are not the same.
Therefore, not every brand out there will meet your specific needs. However, the following factors will help you determine whether you’re choosing the right car scratch removers for your project;
Type of Car Paint scratch remover
There are 2 main types of car paint scratch removers; compound and polish scratch removers.
Compound scratch removers are recommended when you need a powerful formula to enhance the finish of your car paint. More importantly, they’re designed to tackle deep and shallow scratches.
However, due to their aggressive nature, they can remove the clear coat if you apply too much. For that, it’s important to follow the instructions and use the right tools when applying this type of scratch remover.
On the other hand, polish scratch removers cover up any scratches, so they don’t technically remove them. As a result, they’re less effective at eliminating deep scratches compared to high-quality compounds.
However, they do a great job of covering up defects and blemishes.
Each car paint scratch remover has different application instructions. Therefore, it’s important to carefully read the instructions to determine the preferred application method.
In most cases, scratch removers can either be applied with a buffer or by hand. In addition, you should assemble the right tools such as microfiber towels before you start the application process.
More notably, you should look for a product that is easy to apply to help you get the desired results. If possible, buy a scratch remover kit that comes with everything you need so that you don’t have to be concerned about finding the right supplies.
If you want to fix several scratches around your vehicle, you may want to buy a product with a larger bottle. However, if you’re only removing one scratch, you can purchase the smallest bottle possible.
Also, make sure you choose a product with a liquid formula if you don’t plan to use it all at once. This will prevent it from drying before you use it again./
The formulas of various car scratch removers contain different ingredients. Some contain silicone or wax, which serves as a filler. These formulas are a little thicker than silicone- or wax-free scratch removers and allow you to fill in a defect more easily.
Unfortunately, the effect of these products is not permanent, meaning you have to reapply for them after a shorter period. In comparison, scratch removers without silicone or wax are thinner and provide longer-lasting results.
Step-by-step Guide on how to apply a scratch remover on car paint
To get rid of those scratches on your car paint with scratch removers, here are the steps you need to follow:
- First, thoroughly clean your car before you try to repair any scratches or blemishes. Rubbing dirt on existing scratches might make the situation worse. So, make sure you closely inspect the surface you’re working on and use a cleaning agent to get rid of any pre-existing dirt/residue.
- After cleaning the car, use the right car-drying microfiber towel to thoroughly wipe it down to remove any moisture and remaining residues. Also, you can use a car wash sponge to gently scratch the area with the scratch. This will help the car scratch remover to go down deep enough into the scratches.
- Now, apply your preferred scratch remover directly onto the area with the scratches, following the instructions provided by the product manufacturer. Avoid leaving any excess polishing compound on the car as it may cause further damage down the line. Rub the polishing compound on the car paint scratch in a uniform, circular motion and apply the compound multiple times if necessary for ideal results.
- The last step for removing the scratch from your car’s paintwork with a scratch remover is buffing. To accomplish this, you can use a buffer with fine-grit sandpaper (1000 grit/higher) at a speed range of 1000 – 1500 RPM to remove any excess polishing compound. Buff the affected area with light pressure until the scratch isn’t visible. Use a wet non-abrasive cloth/ towel to wipe off any remaining residue.
- After successively removing all scratches and swirls on your car surface and wiping it clean, apply some polish or wax to protect the recently buffed area. This helps to restore the protective layer to ensure the surface will not get scratched again.
Overall, the best scratch removers for car paint we’ve listed above are very efficient in fixing a wide range of scratches, including blemishes and minor scratches. Even better, they add a layer of shine to your car’s paintwork, making the vehicle look like it has just come out of the showroom!