Car all scratched up? It happens to us all every now and again, no matter how much we baby our rides. The best car scratch remover can do a whole lot more than an average one to restore your car to its former glory.
Finding the best car scratch remover on the market isn’t easy, though—not with so many options out there. Taking into consideration your personal needs and your budget can just make the whole process more confusing.
This article is here to help – between a buying guide that covers all the basics and five in depth reviews of some of the best car scratch removers around, I’ve got you covered.
Best Car Scratch Remover of 2018
|Kit||Removes 80% of clear coat scratches|
No experience needed
Permanent result and brilliant shine
|Kit||Used by hand or with an orbital polisher|
Premium automotive product
|Novus||Kit||3 component compact kit|
Can be used on a variety of items
|Mothers||Kit||2 clay bars, Detailer, Microfiber towel|
Safe to use on paint
|3M||Kit||3-step repair approach|
Kit sands, compounds and polishes
Best Car Scratch Remover
I tested over 20 of the most popular and best reviewed car scratch remover products on the market, and these five were the top performers across the board.
While I’ll go into a lot more detail later on in the article, this comparison table is here to summarize the specs and features of each scratch remover to make your final decision as easy as possible.
Ultimate Remover – Best Car Deep Scratch Remover
But does it live up to its name, and is it worth the price?
Read on to find out!
As both an internet and as seen on TV sensation, plenty of people have experienced this product. After hearing all the buzz, as well as mentions of a few flaws in the system, I had to try this product out for myself.
The first thing I noticed was overwhelmingly positive: the quality of the accessories. While many car scratch remover “systems” contain great formula, they provide only flimsy strips of sandpaper.
This product’s accessories, on the other hand, are built to last.
One of the most surprising special features of this product was the instructions. You might think it sounds silly to praise a product’s owner’s manual, but in the case of the Ultimate Car Scratch Remover System, the directions go a long way toward making things easier for new users.
The whole simple, step by step process is one of the things that really sets this product apart from its competitors, and the instructions go a long way toward making scratch removal possible for anyone.
However, I haven’t seen a product yet that’s completely perfect. There are a few flaws even with the Ultimate System.
The first one that will jump out at many consumers is likely the higher price tag. That being said, this potential flaw isn’t as big a deal to me.
Because of the high quality construction and overall longevity of the accessories, this kit still packs plenty of value.
One more significant flaw for me is the relatively small amount of formula that comes with the set. While it’s perfectly good for removing quite a few light scratches or even several fairly deep ones, it won’t last for months or years.
On the other hand, replacement formula is cheap and widely available. In addition, there are a variety of other optional features you can add onto this kit, such as bottles of primer and clear coat that can be used to repair very serious scratches.
All in all, this kit has quite a bit going for it, and only a few noticeable flaws. Let’s take an in depth look at the pros and cons.
This is a great product, but the price may be too steep for some users. I’d recommend it for those of you who are extremely detail oriented when it comes to your car’s top coat, as well as anyone who scratches up their ride frequently.
It makes a much better long term investment than disposable kits and even most other kits with a similar design.
What makes it a great value for repeat users is the high quality of accessories. While your initial purchase will be much more expensive than cheap disposable kits, it may end up being cheaper in the long run if you find yourself frequently treating your car for scratches.
TriNova – Best Car Scratch Remover Product
How does this lower price option stack up against industry heavies?
As with any product, there are some good points and some flaws. Let’s talk about the positives first.
The shining feature of this kit is the chemical. With 12 ounces to a container, there’s plenty to go around, and this stuff works.
On top of that, the treatment is actually gentle enough to use on plastics and headlights, meaning you won’t have to waste time and money seeking out multiple products to give your whole car that showroom shine.
The price of this product is great, too, especially considering the high quantity of the treatment chemical you get with each order.
However, the buffing pad that comes with this system doesn’t quite measure up. It’s not highly durable, and seems a little harsh for dealing with superficial scratches.
Luckily, this is an easy problem to fix.
If you have an orbital polisher, this system is even more effective. However, if you don’t have a tool or the extra cash to invest in one, a few sheets of sandpaper from your local hardware store will help this product bring your ride’s finish back to life.
As luck would have it, this car scratch remover has a couple of other great features going for it as well. Foremost among those is its simplicity.
While some others among the best car scratch remover systems have created a complex process, TriNova’s approach is great because it’s simple. This makes it a great choice for anyone without much experience, as well as for those of you who don’t have a ton of extra time on your hands.
This is a great option for just about anyone, but is particularly good for the following types of drivers:
- Anyone on a tight budget
- Professionals or passionate amateurs who have an orbital polisher
- Someone with a lot of scratches who anticipates needing a lot of product
- Anyone who has tried other solutions and failed to remove scratches
While the buffing pad that comes with the chemical isn’t the best, it’s important to remember that the treatment is the star of the show, while the pad is more of a free bonus.
With some sandpaper or a polisher, anyone can make this kit work for them. Because it’s simpler than a lot of other systems, I’d also recommend it to anyone who’s never polished their car before, as well as those of you who don’t have a lot of free time.
Novus – Best Car Scratch Repair Kit
That clarity of vision has led to some serious innovation in scratch remover formulation and technique over the years, but it leaves out the details that some car owners crave.
If you’re focused on detail work, such as removing interior scratches and scratches on headlamp covers, side mirror backing, and more, then this three piece kit might just be the best product for you.
Having an eye for detail can make your whole ride look a lot better.
In addition, polishing your headlight covers regularly can not only make your car look better, it can make it safer. As headlights take on scratches and grime from the road, they lose their effectiveness.
Throwing some of this great plastic polish on can not only bring back their old shine, but make you a better driver.
Motorcycles and vehicles like the Polaris Slingshot, as well as golf carts, often have plexiglass windscreens that can easily become scuffed. Even many newer cars have plastic or plexiglass windshield trim.
This car scratch remover from Novus can restore the original clarity and shine to all of these.
The major downside to this product, of course, is that it’s not intended for use on the main body of the car. Keeping that in mind is important when deciding whether or not this is the product for you.
This is a great product for anyone with seriously scratched or scuffed plastic or acrylic components. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who has important plastic components on the exterior of their car, or plexiglass windscreens like those used on motorcycles.
It’s also a great supplement for anyone who already has another of the best car scratch removers for their body paint, but wants a separate product designed specifically for detailed work on plastic and acrylic components.
Mothers – Best Car Deep Scratch Repair Kit
Is it also one of the best auto body paint detailing systems around?
Ultimately, you’ll have to decide.
First, it’s important to understand what this product is.
While it’s not exactly a car scratch remover, it serves some of the same functions, which is why it’s featured in this article.
Mothers’ clay bar wash system is designed to take much more dirt, grime, and even corrosion out of your top coat than any other cleaner or wax.
The system works by combining a gentle but tough cleaning formula with the included clay bars, which are the real star of the show. The kit also includes a microfiber cloth for cleaning up residue, but the clay bars do most of the cleaning.
While there’s a wide variety of clay bar systems out there, this is one of the best that’s affordable for everyday users. It’s not dirt cheap, but it won’t break most budgets, and it works extremely well.
This is a great product for those looking to clean up their ride’s top coat, as well as for any detail work you might need to do.
That being said, it’s not designed to remove large scratches, but rather as a deep clean.
It’s perfect for anyone struggling with corrosion or embedded dust and debris, and also works great as a pre-treatment before applying one of the best car scratch remover systems. If your only problem is scratches, though, this may not be the best choice for you.
3M – Best Scratch Remover on Car
How does their simple but powerful 39071 Scratch and Scuff Removal System stack up against the competition?
It’s time to find out.
At a bargain of a price, this system still offers a wide variety of features that will help you have an easier time removing scratches from your clean coat.
First among these is its usability. While many other systems rely either on a more specialized orbital polisher or on old fashioned elbow grease, this system integrates with a household drill to give you the power of a specialized tool with none of the hassle.
One of the small downsides to note when it comes to this product is that it only comes with a small amount of the two liquid formulas required to carry out the procedure. That being said, all of the accessories except for the sandpaper are reusable, and sandpaper and formula are available separately and at a fair price.
The pricing of this product is also one of its prime features. At only a fraction of the cost of some other scratch removal products, it still performs at the top tier of car scratch removers, which might just make it the ideal choice for any driver on a budget.
While it might be better to approach these more delicate materials with specialized products, it’s good to know that 3M can cover both these and the top coat more generally.
This may be the perfect choice for the user on a budget. It’s also a potentially great option for anyone who doesn’t want to go to the trouble of removing scratches by hand, but also doesn’t want to purchase a specialized tool.
All in all, it’s a highly effective little package with few flaws of note, and it offers top performance at a steal of a price. I would recommend it to just about anyone.
Now that you’ve read about some of the best products on the market, let’s look at some of the factors that make for a great car scratch remover (and some of the things you should keep in mind while choosing which one to purchase).
How Car Scratch Removal Works
Just as sanding removes defects and splinters in wood by gradually, carefully wearing it down to create an even surface, car scratch removal saves your car’s top coat by eroding it.
The thin top coat over your car’s paint is very gradually worn down by a combination of an abrasive chemical and the action of either your hand or tool, which creates friction.
Even so, it’s even better to wax your car right after removing scratches, to restore your top coat so that it can protect your paint job and give your car that brand new shine.
Some of the best car scratch remover kits feature a waxing step after the main abrasive portion of scratch removal is done.
Measuring Your Expectations
Car scratch remover can do a lot for the look of your car, but it’s important to measure expectations too.
If the actual paint is scratched or chipped—in other words, if you can see the plain gunmetal gray of the car’s body—it’ll take more than a car scratch remover to do the trick.
If you have the right equipment, you can touch up your paint job at home and use a car scratch remover to touch up the top coat. Most people will need to go to the body shop.
For small but deep scratches, there is a middle way. Small containers of paint are available that, when combined with the best car scratch remover kits, can make your paint job look fresh again.
However, if you have scratches that are both wide and deep from a collision or serious vandalism, the actual paint beneath the top coat needs to be repaired first.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you can get the tip of your fingernail into the scratch, it’s likely too deep to repair with polish alone.
How to Use the Best Car Scratch Remover Systems
Every car scratch remover is a bit different. Some are designed to be used by hand, while others will only work with an orbital polisher or similar tool.
Still others are operable either way, and some work with a household drill.
That being said, there are a few general rules of thumb when using any car scratch remover. Keep these in mind, but also be sure to thoroughly read and consider the instructions for your chosen product.
Different removers, different scratches, and different cars will all require different amounts of pressure and force to repair.
This is easy if you’re using a tool with specific speed settings like an orbital polisher or most drills. If you’re using your hands, simply start with slow motions and without applying a lot of pressure.
Then increase your forcefulness if a lighter touch won’t get rid of the scratches.
Following this tip will prevent you from applying more force than you need, which will save your top coat (and make everything easier on your arms!).
You might also consider wearing a ventilator or face mask.
Other key safety equipment, like goggles, are also advised for anyone in the area.
Clean First, Wax Afterward
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: applying some wax after you finish removing scratches from your car’s top coat is almost as important as the scratch removal itself.
Many of the best car scratch remover kits include wax, and offer waxing instructions in their step by step processes. On the other hand, some kits are more minimalist.
Check the contents of your kit before you buy, and if it doesn’t come with wax, order your favorite brand or the one the scratch remover’s maker recommends.
If you’ve never waxed your car before, don’t worry: it’s even easier than removing the scratches!
Of course, it’s also important to clean your car’s top coat before using a scratch remover kit. Any dust or grime could get in the way, or even further damage the top coat when combined with the chemical and friction abrasion of the kit.
Care and Storage
While there are plenty of disposable kits of greatly varying degrees of quality out there, many of the best car scratch remover systems are intended to last a bit longer. Even with disposable kits, it’s possible you could end up with a not insignificant amount of leftover formula after your job is done.
Luckily, storing accessories you haven’t used is pretty easy. Use common sense, but beyond this there aren’t many special requirements for most kits.
This is especially true of clay bar cleaning kits like the one offered by Mothers. Because the clay bar is essentially part of the cleaning formula, it can get pretty dirty, but it’s also an essential component.
Storing the chemical products used to buff your top coat scratches is the more challenging part of proper storage.
Every formula will be a bit different, so be sure to follow the included instructions. However, you can also keep the following in mind:
- Store all your car scratch remover treatments in a cool, dry place.
- Remember to keep all your household chemicals away from children and pets.
- If your container sits for a while, be sure to check it for leaks or other signs of damage.
Following these simple care and storage instructions, along with any more specific instructions included with your chosen car scratch remover, will help your products last longer and perform better.
Conclusion: The Best Car Scratch Remover
I hope this article has taught you a great deal about the best car scratch remover systems, from how they work to which one may be best for your needs. In any case, it’s time to name the best of the best car scratch remover kits.
After extensive research and testing, my choice is The Ultimate Car Scratch Remover System. While I was a bit skeptical at first that any product could be as great as I had heard this one is, I was seriously impressed with everything from the quality of the components to the ingenuity of the design.
Although this system is a bit more complex and expensive than some other options on the market, it offers some serious advantages over simpler systems, and still packs an incredible value. If The Ultimate Car Scratch Remover System is completely out of your budget, I’ve got a section on the best budget alternative below.
For everyone else, I would recommend this kit for the following reasons:
- The quality and reusability of the accessories increases the kit’s value a great deal despite its slightly higher price point.
- Between the clarity of the instructions and the brilliant conception of a complete, but also completely doable step by step car scratch removal process, anyone can remove scratches from their top coats and restore their rides’ former glory.
- The liquid formula included with this kit is more powerful than that with most of the cheaper kits, but at the same time isn’t so harsh as to damage the top coat unnecessarily.
I also admire the kit’s expandability, and the fact that the same company creates custom paint and primer touch up kits for users with extreme scratches. In addition to the obvious convenience factor there, it shows that the company truly stands behind their products.
All in all, I would recommend this step by step system to anyone with car scratches, especially if you’ve tried other products and failed (while keeping in mind that anything going below the clear top coat will require paint touch up).
Best Budget Option
Of course, not everyone has the cash to get The Ultimate Car Scratch Remover system. After all, you’re removing the scratches yourself to save money!
If you’re on a tighter budget, there’s no product I could recommend more highly than 3M’s 39071 car scratch remover kit. Without any specialized tools, and with simple, clear instructions, this kit allows you to give your ride’s top coat a professional polish with only a standard household drill and a little effort.
In addition to its relative simplicity, I really like this kit for its low price and its amazing results. I also appreciate that the kit truly does come with everything you need (except the drill, of course) to start removing scratches right away.
Many of the other kits at this price point don’t include high quality sandpaper or other necessary accessories.
On top of that, 3M’s chemical formula is truly impressive, with just the right combination of abrasiveness and gentleness to get rid of pesky scratches while not damaging the top coat. It’s even gentle enough to use on trim and other non metal components!
Between the versatility and quality of this product, I’d recommend it to anyone on a tight budget. It’s also great for anyone who wants a slightly simpler 3 step system, though it is worth mentioning that this is still a bit more complicated than the single step kits out there.
I hope this article has helped you find the perfect car scratch remover kit to meet your needs. Whether you have a few scratches on your trim, a single key mark, or anything else, one of the products discussed here should meet your needs.
If you’ve tried any of the best car scratch removers I talked about today (or if I left out your favorite), let me know in the comments! I’ve had a lot of trouble with scratches on my cars over the years, and wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else.