Your car is constantly exposed to the elements, and despite your best efforts, it is bound to get surface scratches and swirls from time to time.
Waxing and polishing can help protect your car’s finish but can sometimes be the cause of scratches too! Automatic carwashes are notorious for surface swirls and scratches, using abrasive buffers and applicators. But fear not, these types of scratches are usually easily rectified. A simple buffing is often good enough, but you’ll need a decent quality scratch-removal product to go with it, whether doing it by hand or via a machine buffer and polisher.
There are hundreds of different scratch removers to choose from, and it can become overwhelming to find the right one. We’ve done all the hard work for you and put together a list of in-depth reviews to help you find the perfect scratch remover for your needs.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Carfidant Ultimate Scratch and Swirl Remover||
|Best Value||Formula 1 Scratch Out||
|Premium Choice||SHINE ARMOR Revive Scratch Repair Swirl Remover||
|Nu Finish Scratch Doctor||
|QUIXX Paint Scratch Remover||
The 10 Best Car Scratch Removers – Reviews 2021
1. Carfidant Ultimate Scratch and Swirl Remover — Best Overall
This scratch-and-swirl remover from Carfidant is a specially formulated compound that will easily make light swirls and scratches a thing of the past. The included buffer pad makes the process even easier, as it’s simple to use: Apply the Carfident compound to the pad, rub it in a circular motion onto the scratch or swirl, and then softly wipe it clean. This means your car will go from scratched to restored in a matter of minutes.
Not only does the compound easily remove minor swirls and scratches, but its special formula will also polish and renew the smooth shine of your car. It can remove oxidization and water spots with its professional-grade chemicals that are safe and easy to use. Its affordable price and ease of use make it our top choice for DIY scratch removal.
2. Formula 1 Scratch Out — Best Value
Formula 1 Scratch Out is affordable and effective and the best car scratch remover on our list for the money. It is a unique paste wax that uses micro-polishing agents to remove swirls and scratches and clear the dull haze that can appear on older cars. The paste contains a strong Carnauba wax that protects your car’s finish and is non-abrasive, so it won’t add any additional scratches.
Formula 1 Scratch Out is also a multi-use product, meaning that you can use it for more than just your car’s paint job: It is great for headlights and taillights too. The paste solution is easy to use: Simply apply to a clean, soft cloth or buffing pad, spread it and allow to dry, and then wipe it off with a microfiber towel.
3. SHINE ARMOR Revive Scratch Repair Swirl Remover — Premium Choice
While Shine Armor may be on the more expensive end, it will remove scratches, swirls, and oxidization without any damage to your car’s paint finish. Even slightly deeper scratches are no match for its all-in-one correction compound. It contains no extra fillers or waxes and is a safe and effective product that can be applied by hand or with an orbital polishing machine.
Even old cars with a dull finish can be restored to their previous sheen with Shine Armor, and it will also bring the shine back to the chrome and metal components on your car. All that’s required is a bit of elbow grease and a soft applicator, and Shine Armor will do the rest.
4. Nu Finish Scratch Doctor
Nu Finish Scratch Doctor will remove not only paint scratches and swirls, but it will also brighten up dull haze and will work on chrome and metal too. If your car’s clear coat is looking dull and aged, this polish will quickly get it back to its former shiny glory. Scratch Doctor polish uses a specialized polymer formula that is harder and long lasting. This formula will make your car’s clear coat more resistant to detergents and grime, so dust and other small road debris are less likely to stick to it.
To get the most shine out of this polish, apply it and wait a few days, then apply a wax sealant over it. This will give your car a durable, long-lasting shine.
It’s worth mentioning that this polish may stain plastic components on your car, like a bumper. So, it’s best to try to keep it off any plastic surface. Also, if you’re going to apply it in direct sunlight, make sure to wipe it off as soon as possible, as the hot sun can make it difficult to remove.
5. QUIXX Paint Scratch Remover
QUIXX 00070 uses a simple two-step process to remove scratches and stains permanently. The first step utilizes a patented compound that works with the surrounding paint to remove the scratch, essentially melting it into the scratch. The second step involves a polish that will restore the area to its optimum shine. The difference with QUIXX is that it claims to actually remove the scratch, not just temporarily cover it up, using a German-engineered process called plastic deformation.
It also claims to be able to remove deeper scratches that you can feel with your nail, not just clear-coat surface scratches and swirls. This kit also comes with a polishing cloth and specialized sandpaper if a light sanding is needed. QUIXX takes a great deal of time and elbow grease to apply, so it’s a good idea to do one scratch at a time.
6. 3M Advanced Scratch Remover
3M Scratch Remover will remove all light scratches and swirl marks, utilizing fine particles to smooth the scratch out and bring your car’s finish back to life. Instead of filling in scratches like certain wax-filled products do, 3M actually repairs the damage. It will also remove oxidization, light stains, and sticky surface contamination.
Application is simple: Drop a small amount of the formula onto a clean microfiber cloth, and apply in a circular motion. Leave for a few minutes and remove with a separate cloth.
There are several reports of users saying that it can discolor the paint of your car, so a gentle hand is suggested. It can also cause dulling around the scratch area if applied too heavily. We suggest that less is more if you decide to go with this polish.
7. TriNova 5 Scratch Swirl Remover
This scratch-and-swirl remover from TriNova is an abrasive polishing compound that can be used on any paint color. It is also safe to use with an orbital polisher or by hand with its included buffer pad. The buffing process is a simple, two-step procedure: Make sure the surface area is clean first, apply the product to the buffer pad, and rub in a circular motion until the polish is almost gone. Then simply polish off the remaining product with a microfiber towel.
It boasts a permanent scratch removal, provided that the scratches do not penetrate past the clear coat of your car. This, of course, means it cannot handle deeper scratches and damage. Some users report dulling of the paint on the applied area, so you may need to go easy with the included buffer.
8. Chemical Guys Scratch and Swirl Remover
This affordable, wax- and silicone-free scratch-and-swirl remover from Chemical Guys will remove moderate to heavy surface scratches. Its wax and silicone-free solution will not just fill in the scratches — which are sure to reappear later — it will actually remove them with its specialized formula. This formula will remove swirls, scratches, and oxidization and then finish like a polish, creating a mirror-like shine. It will also work on any color paint job and is suitable for ceramic and clear-coat finishes.
Its one-step process makes it simple and quick to apply, saving you time. It is also safe to use with machine orbiters or by hand application. That said, it can be difficult to remove if left on for too long, so elbow grease may be needed. Some users also report that its thick texture is difficult to spread evenly.
9. Meguiar’s ScratchX 2.0
Meguiar’s ScratchX 2.0 is safe to use on all paint finishes and will remove scratches and swirls quickly and easily. It has a unique micro-abrasive formula that will repair your car’s scratches, blemishes, and swirl marks, as opposed to just covering them up like a few other wax products tend to do. It is also effective for oxidization, light stains, and surface grime and is safe to use with a machine orbiter or by hand. It’s simple to apply and will only take minutes to remove any minor swirls or scratches.
Users report some paint discoloration after use, especially on black paint. Despite its claim of scratch repair, many users claim that it is only a temporary fix, with scratches reappearing a day or two after use.
10. Turtle Wax Clean Cut Scratch Repair & Renew
Turtle Wax Scratch Repair and Renew will remove heavy scratches and swirl marks and is safe to use on any finish. The compound is specially formulated with a blend of nanotechnology polishing agents that will work on even the toughest of surface scratches.
This product is a scratch-and-swirl remover only, so you’ll have to purchase and apply additional polishing compound after using it. It is also hard to get off after application, so it is better suited for machine use. Many users also report that it only works temporarily, meaning it doesn’t actually fix the scratches, it merely fills them in for a few days. Not only that, but users also report that more scratches are being caused by the compound than it removes, probably due to the micro-particles inside it.
Whether you prefer machine buffing or doing the job by hand, removing the scratches on your car requires more than just elbow grease. You’ll need an effective product to remove any scratches and swirls that inevitably appear on your car. You want to permanently remove the scratches, not just temporarily cover them up.
There are a few factors to take into consideration when buying a scratch remover, in order to ensure that scratches and swirls are removed effectively but also safely — you don’t want them causing more damage than there was to begin with.
The first consideration is the components inside the product you are using. It should ideally be non-abrasive, so it won’t cause more micro-scratches and swirls. It should also be non-toxic, especially if you are applying by hand. Harsh toxic chemicals can also dull your car’s finish and even remove layers of clear coat.
Some products also include useless and potentially damaging fillers like silicone or waxes. These fillers serve to only temporarily fill the scratch as opposed to actually fixing them.
Removers and Polishers
While some products have specialized formulas that include both, a scratch remover and polish are actually two different things. A scratch remover will either fill the scratch in with a filler of some kind or gently melt the surrounding paint into the scratch to remove it. A polisher or wax will then need to be applied to protect and seal the surface. Some products make this easy by combining the two, making it a simple one-step procedure of application. Even then, a light polishing is still recommended for optimum shine.
Depending on the product you choose, scratch removers can be applied by hand or via a machine polisher. With a machine polisher, accuracy can sometimes be difficult, and they are often heavy, which can tire your arms out quickly. However, you can exert a great deal of pressure with a machine, and this will help you achieve a more effective result.
A hand polish allows you to gently apply the product at your own pace, without the noise and weight of a machine. You can also be more accurate and polish hard-to-reach areas with ease. That said, some products can be tricky to remove by hand, especially when applied in the hot sun. The trick is to do one section of your car at a time and not leave the product on too long, which will harden it and thus make it difficult to remove.
According to our tests, Carfident C305 is our top choice for removing scratches and swirls from your car’s finish. It comes with a buffer pad and includes professional-grade chemicals that are safe to use. It is easy to apply, and no additional polish is required for a showroom, scratch-free finish.
Our top choice for a car scratch remover for the money goes to Formula 1 Scratch Out. It is affordable yet effective and has micro-polishing agents that are sure to restore your car’s finish to its original shine. It can be used both on your car’s finish and on the headlights and taillights, all at an affordable price.
There are many scratch removal products available, some of which work beautifully and others that can potentially do more harm than good. It can be a confusing process to find a safe and effective scratch remover for your car, and hopefully, our in-depth reviews have helped you decide which one is the best product to suit your specific needs.
Featured Image Credit: energepic.com, Pexels
Pete has been working in the trades since high school, where he first developed a passion for woodworking. Over the years, he has developed a keen interest in a wide variety of DIY projects around the home. Fascinated by all sort of tools, Pete loves reading and writing about all the latest gadgets and accessories that hit the market. His other interests include astronomy, hiking, and fishing.
As the founder of House Grail, David’s primary goal is to help consumers make educated decisions about DIY projects at home, in the garage, and in the garden.
- 1 A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- 2 The 10 Best Car Scratch Removers – Reviews 2021
- 2.1 1. Carfidant Ultimate Scratch and Swirl Remover — Best Overall
- 2.2 2. Formula 1 Scratch Out — Best Value
- 2.3 3. SHINE ARMOR Revive Scratch Repair Swirl Remover — Premium Choice
- 2.4 4. Nu Finish Scratch Doctor
- 2.5 5. QUIXX Paint Scratch Remover
- 2.6 6. 3M Advanced Scratch Remover
- 2.7 7. TriNova 5 Scratch Swirl Remover
- 2.8 8. Chemical Guys Scratch and Swirl Remover
- 2.9 9. Meguiar’s ScratchX 2.0
- 2.10 10. Turtle Wax Clean Cut Scratch Repair & Renew
- 3 Buyers Guide
- 4 Conclusion