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Tested: Best Car Scratch Removers

Michael SimariCar and Driver

Uh-oh. If you’re here, you’ve probably discovered an irritating scratch on your vehicle. Perhaps it came from a rebellious shopping cart, a bike in the garage, or a tree branch that reached out just a bit too far. Have no fear! This doesn’t necessarily mean an expensive trip to the body shop—there are over-the-counter scratch removers you can buy for cheap.

One day Car and Driver‘s 2022 Ram 1500 TRX long-term test vehicle returned from an off-road escapade with a (thankfully) light scratch that stretched along the entire passenger’s side, all due to a pesky bit of foliage. The Gear Team was summoned, and we decided to perform a side-by-side comparison test of some popular car scratch removers. Here’s how they fared.

Our Top Picks

Will these products take out all scratches?

No. These scratch-remover products are designed to mend light, minor scratches. These typically occur when the clear coat is damaged, leaving a faint scratch. If a scratch is too deep, particularly down to the bare metal, it’ll likely require a professional fix. One easy way to determine this is to run your fingernail across the scratch—if your nail gets hung up in the valley of the scratch, these products likely won’t take care of the problem.

A scratch remover uses extremely fine abrasives to smooth the jagged edges of a scratch, then blends the clear coat together to fill the valley until the scratch is no longer visible. Some heavier-duty scratch removers will actually get down into the primer coat and meld the paint back together. For our test, we avoided scratch removers that come with paint correction for two reasons: The Ram TRX is a loaner vehicle, and we wanted to keep the test as simple as possible.

To determine which car scratch remover was the best, we taped off seven even sections of the scratch on the TRX. We then rubbed in the various compounds, with even pressure, for 30 seconds each. Most of the removers just required rubbing in the compound with a microfiber cloth, while others featured a few extra steps. After testing, we present the best car scratch removers for your vehicle.

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Best Overall

Meguiar’s Scratch Eraser Kit

This kit worked so effectively that we decided to use it to remove the sections that didn’t turn out so well after our testing.

Best Results

Turtle Wax Premium Scratch Repair Kit

There were some audible wows from our testing team after the third pass with this kit.

Best One-Step Product

Formula 1 Scratch Out

Despite the unpleasant smell, this stuff works well as a one-step scratch remover.

Honorable Mention

Meguiar’s Scratch X

You can use this bottle as a refill for the Meguiar’s Scratch Eraser Kit rather than buying a whole new box.

Honorable Mention

Turtle Wax Scratch Repair & Renew

While the picture makes it seem like the scratch is completely gone, the blemish is still faintly there. Capturing it on the body panel’s angle proved to be tricky.

Notice how the swirls of this stuff don’t spread out evenly? We think this inconsistency and the Nu Finish Scratch Doctor’s bad performance are a result of the runniness.

Quixx Paint Scratch Remover

We had to capture a lot of steps for this one, and the results didn’t match the effort.

How We Tested Car Scratch Removers

To test these scratch removers as uniformly as possible, we taped off even sections of an equally deep light scratch along the passenger’s side of a 2022 Ram 1500 TRX.

With each product, we performed three 30-second passes over the respective section and noted the results. We directly followed the instructions for each product. We also noted smells, consistency, and other observations.

We then compiled our results based on performance, ease of use, speed, and price. We feel certain that each car scratch remover was tested and judged equally.

Do scratch removers actually work?

We were wondering the same thing. The verdict? Yes! Well, some. And only in certain situations. Scratches in your vehicle’s clear coat are repairable; anything deeper will probably require a professional. For light scratches like the one in our test, scratch removers really do work.

What is the best scratch remover for cars?

For the best overall, meaning a combination of time and performance, the Meguiar’s Scratch Eraser Kit is our choice. For best results, the Turtle Wax Premium Scratch Repair Kit is superior for completely erasing a light scratch.

Can a detailer buff out scratches?

Occasionally, and for a price. Since we like doing things ourselves, we set out to see whether these products could remove scratches right in our own garage. If you’re uncomfortable with trying to remove a scratch yourself, detailers are a great option—but if the scratch is deep enough, even they might be unable to remove it.

Can I use WD-40, toothpaste, or a Magic Eraser to remove scratches?

Not for results even close to what a $20 scratch removal kit can do. In fact, using household items to try to repair a scratch can end up costing you far more in the long run. In short—no, and we don’t recommend you try it.

Why trust us?

Car and Driver and its sibling publications at Hearst Autos represent three of the most influential automotive publications in the world. With the legacies of Autoweek, Car and Driver, and Road & Track behind us, the Hearst Autos Gear Team doesn’t need to worry about our bottom line. Our picks and recommendations of products and gear are based on testing and knowledge, not hype.

For consistency, this test was conducted in an environment that provided equal testing procedures for each product: the Car and Driver garage. Upon tallying up our findings, we agreed that our test was fair and legitimate—and provided the most complete information for us to recommend our picks.

Read more about our product testing and evaluation process here.

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