Restoring your car’s pristine paintwork when it has been scratched is no mean feat. You need the best car scratch remover to help you nail the job.
Whether it’s a minor scuff, or a deeper scratch, car scratches not only look unsightly, but they can also affect the resale value of your motor. With a bit of time and patience though, you can apply a bit of elbow grease for a better finish. An effective car scratch remover will minimise minor imperfections, conceal irksome marks and help protect the paintwork from any further damage.
Read on and we’ll explain how to find the very best scratch remover for your car, while recommending a few of our favourites that will get your car looking (almost) as good as new.
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Best car scratch removers: At a glance
How to choose the best car scratch remover for you
The best car scratch remover for you entirely depends on what kind of scratch you’re dealing with. Scratches can be deep, cutting through the primer and into the metalwork. Some take the colour, while other more shallow scratches affect just the clear lacquer layers.
It’s worth stating now that if you’re seeing flashes of metalwork, you’ll probably need a scratch/chip repair kit. These have a three-step process to replace the primer, repaint the colour and add the clear top coat. Once you’ve followed these steps, a surface scratch remover or car polish will help even out your clear coat application.
Do car scratch removers really work?
Yes, scratch removers do work. They aren’t, however, an instant fix. Set aside an hour with your favourite podcast on a dry day if you’re really committed to the cause. To better understand how DIY car scratch removers can help, it’s important to understand that your car’s bodywork is made up of layers, including a few clear lacquer coats and your car colour. Under that sits primer and finally the metal of the body panel.
Like treating ageing facial skin, you wouldn’t expect a high-street store’s best moisturiser to do the same job, or produce the same results, as an injectable deeper dermal filler.
How do I fix deep scratches on my car?
The most honest answer is: with difficulty. Whether someone’s caught your car with their coat zipper, scratched it by squeezing by or you in their car, or whether you’ve had an altercation with a bollard, deep scratches are hard work.
Restoring a deep scratch, especially one affecting the colour and/or primer layer, back to ‘it-never-even-happened’ usually needs a capable detailing or paintshop expert. They should be able to heavily mask damage without requiring a full panel respray.
Provided you haven’t removed the colour, however, the products on this list are budget-friendly enough to try before you bring in the costly professionals.
Is it worth fixing scratches on my car?
This depends. If you are running an old car into the ground until its dying day, at which point you intend on scrapping it, or selling it for parts, then scratch repair is neither cost nor time efficient.
On the other hand, if you’ve just marked your mum’s brand new motor or you’re returning a lease car and need to deal with a couple of scuffs to avoid penalty charges, you might be more motivated to attempt a repair.
How do I apply car scratch remover?
Each product has its own instructions, which are worth reading carefully before starting. Generally though, you need to wash your car, or at least the area of repair, thoroughly. You also need to ensure you’re applying car treatments in the shade. Whether it’s wax, polish or scratch remover, standing out in the midday sun will inhibit the product’s ability to function properly.
To put this in context, the booths used for a full respray need to be around 21 degrees to cure the paint on the panels. In summer, certain car colours, particularly black, can reach scorching temperatures. If you’ve returned from a drive too, you’re adding engine heat into the mix. It’s a guaranteed disaster for any efforts to repair paintwork aesthetics.
These products are abrasive. Using a fine grit, they buff out imperfections. Coupled with the lightest touch, they can totally change the appearance of a clear coat layer on your paintwork. Initially the area goes more dull, but don’t panic. Keep plugging away and the smooth shine will soon be restored.
The time taken will depend on whether you repair by hand or use a machine. You don’t need to buy a specific car polishing machine. If you have a domestic drill, you can buy polishing attachments to help keep the costs of repair low. If you’re doing a manual repair, you’ll want to invest in some waffle applicator pads and a microfibre cloth.
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The best car scratch removers you can buy in 2022
1. Farecla G3 Pro Scratch Remover Paste: The best car scratch remover for light scratches
Price: £8 | Buy now from Amazon
Farecla is a very well-respected French brand, and the fact that the G3 Pro comes in a smaller 150ml size for half the price of its rivals is a shrewd business decision. Scratch removers are the kind of product where a pea-sized amount goes a long way, and we’re big fans of quality over quantity. This product can be used by hand or with a machine. If you’re going to use the latter, make sure you can manage the weight of it for an extended period.
This paste is better used in a spot repair job, since it’s easier to control. It’s effective on glass too. If you have scratches over a wider surface area though, you’ll be better off with a liquid.
Key specs – Type: Paste; Size: 150ml; Extras: None
2. T-Cut rapid scratch remover: The best-value car scratch remover
Price: £8 | Buy now from Wilko
You’ll find people utter T-Cut for car scratch repair, the same way they use Google for an internet search. Synonymous with scratch removal, Ignore the ‘rapid’ in the title of T-Cut rapid scratch remover—that’s likely a hangover from days before the internet, when life was at a slower pace.
T-Cut is not for the faint of heart. It’s a liquid and, as such, it’ll cover larger, though not deeper, damaged surfaces. It offers good results, but it needs a fair bit of work. You’ll need to factor in the cost of a wax, since the remaining shine doesn’t match some of the others. But in its favour, it doesn’t cost the earth.
Key specs –Type: Liquid; Size: 500ml; Extras: None
Buy now from Wilko
3. Autoglym Complete Scratch Removal Kit: The best car scratch remover for repairs by hand
Price: £19 | Buy now from Amazon
This Autoglym Complete Scratch Removal Kit is pricey, but offers good value-for-money. This is a complete package including the scratch remover, a waffle applicator pad, car polish (enough to treat the whole car) and a microfibre cloth. Though you’ll do the work by hand, the applicator pad is designed in such a way as to minimise hand cramp.
With this Autoglym scratch repair, you spot-treat a smaller problem area with the two-sided waffle applicator, moving in side-to-side motions with the lightest of touches. It’s not really suited to larger scuffed areas, though it will help reduce the visibility of such damage. Once the clear coat is restored, you can apply the Autoglym Super Resin polish to the whole car for a shiny finish.
Key specs – Type: Paste; Size: 100ml; Extras: Waffle applicator pad, car polish, microfibre cloth
4. Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound Colour & Clarity Restorer: The best car scratch remover for machine-based repair
Price: £13 | Buy now from Amazon
Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound is brilliant for tackling above-surface defects like bird poo residue, dust, road grime, tree sap and paint overspray. But it also makes relatively easy work of sub-surface defects, like acid-rain etching, swirls and scratches, and stains from bird muck that didn’t get taken off before it started to become ingrained in the paint.
Because it’s better suited to larger areas of restoration, the best results with Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound will be gained from working with a machine. It’s formulated to leave a deep shine and high glossy finish, underpinned with carnauba wax.
Key specs – Type: Liquid; Size: 450ml; Extras: None
5. Angelwax Enigma AIO: The best car scratch remover for heavier scratches
Price: £39 | Buy now from Amazon
Angelwax products don’t come cheap. They’re often not the best performers either. However, the Angelwax Enigma does offer a bit of something special and, for that reason, it’s won awards. Best applied with a machine—though like others on this list, it can be used by hand—Angelwax Enigma can tackle deeper marks other products struggle with.
That’s because it’s specially formulated with ‘ceramic-infused nano technology’. The nano coating left behind makes the paintwork more scratch-resistant, by improving hardness. There’s also a brilliant glossy finish, which boasts three-months of durability. We’re still counting the days, but so far, so good.
Key specs – Type: Liquid; Size: 500ml; Extras: None