Michael SimariCar and Driver
Uh oh. If you are here, you may find annoying scratches on your vehicle. Maybe it’s from a rebellious shopping cart, a bike in the garage, or a tree branch sticking out too far. Do not be afraid! This doesn’t mean an expensive trip to the body repair shop—there are over-the-counter scratch removers you can buy cheaply.
One day Car and DriverThe 2022 Ram 1500 TRX long-term test vehicle returns from an off-road adventure with (thankfully) minor scratches running along the passenger side, all because of a bit of annoying foliage. The Gear team was called in, and we decided to do a side-by-side comparison test of some of the popular car scratch removers. This is their fate.
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Will this product remove all scratches?
Not. This scratch removal product is designed to repair minor and minor scratches. This usually occurs when the clear coating breaks down, leaving a faint streak. If the scratch is too deep, especially into metal parts, it will likely require professional repair. One easy way to determine this is by moving your fingernail across the scratch—if your nail hangs in the valley of the scratch, this product likely won’t solve the problem.
The scratch remover uses a very fine abrasive to smooth the jagged edges of the scratch, then blends the clear layers together to fill in the valleys until the scratch is no longer visible. Some of the heavier scratch removers will actually get into the primer coat and bring the paint back together. For our tests, we avoided the scratch remover that comes with paint correction for two reasons: The Ram TRX was a loan vehicle, and we wanted to make testing as simple as possible.
To determine which car scratch remover is the best, we glued seven scratch sections onto the TRX. We then rubbed various compounds, with even pressure, for 30 seconds each. Most removers only require scrubbing the compound with a microfiber cloth, while others feature a few additional steps. After testing, we present best car scratch remover for your vehicle.
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Meguiar Scratches Eraser Kit
This kit worked so effectively that we decided to use it to remove the parts that didn’t go well after our tests.
Premium Turtle Wax Scratches Repair Kit
There were a few surprises heard from our test team after the third pass with this kit.
Best One-Step Product
Formula 1 Scratch!
Despite the unpleasant smell, this item works well as a one-step scratch remover.
Meguiar X Scratches
You can use this bottle as a refill for Meguiar’s Scratch Eraser Kit instead of buying a new box.
Turtle Wax Scratches Repair & Update
While the image looks like the scratches are completely gone, the blemishes are still faint. Capturing it at the corners of the body panels proved tricky.
Notice how the vortex of this thing doesn’t spread evenly? We think these inconsistencies and Nu Finish Scratch Doctor’s poor performance are a result of runniness.
Quixx Paint Scratches Remover
We had to catch a lot of steps for this one, and the result was not worth the effort.
How We Test Car Scratch Remover
In order to test this scratch remover as uniformly as possible, we glued equal sections of equally deep light scratches along the passenger side of the 2022 Ram 1500 TRX.
With each product, we did three 30-second passes through each section and recorded the results. We directly follow the instructions for each product. We also noted odor, consistency, and other observations.
We then aggregate our results based on performance, ease of use, speed, and price. We feel confident that every car scratch remover has been tested and rated the same.
Does scratch remover really work?
We were wondering the same thing. Decision? Yes! Well, some. And only in certain situations. Scratches on the clear coating of your vehicle can be repaired; anything deeper would probably require a professional. For light scratches like the ones in our test, the scratch remover really works.
What is the best scratch remover for cars?
For the best overall, which means a combination of time and performance, Meguiar Scratches Eraser Kit is our choice. For best results, Premium Turtle Wax Scratches Repair Kit superior for completely removing light scratches.
Can detailers remove scratches?
Sometimes, and for the price. Since we like doing things ourselves, we started to see if this product could remove scratches right in our own garage. If you’re not comfortable trying to remove a scratch yourself, detailers are a great option—but if the scratch is deep enough, even they might not be able to remove it.
Can I use WD-40, toothpaste, or Magic Eraser to remove scratches?
Not for results that even come close to what a $20 scratch removal kit can. In fact, using household items to try to repair scratches can cost you a lot more in the long run. In short—no, and we don’t recommend trying it.
Why trust us?
Car and Driver and its sister publications at Hearst Autos represent the three most influential automotive publications in the world. With inheritance Autoweek, Car and Driver, and Roads & Trails behind us, the Gear Hearst Autos Team doesn’t have to worry about our advantage. Our selection and recommendations of products and equipment are based on testing and knowledge, not sensationalism.
For consistency, these tests are performed in an environment that provides the same test procedure for each product: Car and Driver garage. After calculating our findings, we agree that our tests were fair and legitimate — and provide the most complete information for us to recommend our choices.
Read more about our product testing and evaluation process here.
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