Scratches on your car paintwork are irritating. But we've found that with the best car scratch removers you can make shallow scratches disappear quickly and effectively.
In January 2021 we applied car scratch removers to uniform scratches we'd created onto a piece of car panel so we could find out which one was the best. We conducted our tests using eight commercial products designed to remove shallow scratches, including Angelwax, Meguiars and T-Cut.
We also tested to see if WD-40 can hide car scratches as several online videos claim.
Prices and availability last checked 01 September 2021
Most car scratch removers are designed to repair shallow scratches. That is scratches to the outer clear coat of the car's paint.
Not all the scratch removers we tested produced the same results, even on shallow scratches. However, some we tested proved to be brilliant on shallow scratches and one even managed to lessen the appearance of damage on deeper scratches.
The clear standout we've named our Best Buy car scratch remover produced the best results on the scratches we tested it on and left the best finish, even after washing the paintwork with car shampoo.
Angelwax Enigma AIO was the most expensive product we tested and one of the only car scratch removers available which the manufacturer boasts can also refine medium to deep scratches.
Its instructions outline how to use it with a machine or a specialist pad, but you can also apply it by hand.
Scratch Out from Autobrite Direct car scratch remover is designed for both hand or machine application.
It's promoted as: 'The only scratch & swirl remover you will ever need!' and the manufacturer boasts of, 'easy removal of light scratches and scuffs'.
Do we agree or did we find others which made removing scratches easier?
Size: kit contains 100ml scratch remover plus 100ml polish
This all-in-one kit from Autoglym claims to contain everything you need to remove scratches from your paintwork. It contains 100ml Scratch Remover, 100ml Super Resin Polish, 1x Hi-Tech Finishing Cloth and 1x Scratch Removal Applicator.
Farécla, the maker of this car scratch remover paste, says it's made with a technically advanced formula and will remove surface scratches and scuffs from your car bodywork with ease. It promises: 'No need for expensive trips to the bodyshop.'
The Mantis Scratch Remover from JML was the cheapest car scratch remover we tested.
Mantis says it can also be used on motorcycles, boats, caravans, alloy wheels and that as well as paintwork it will fix scratches on metal, laminated wood and plastics on top of paintwork.
Meguiar's Scratch X 2.0 claims to be the must-have product for isolated paint problems and that it's not just a cover-up and permanently removes defects rather than simply hiding them.
T-Cut is the car scratch remover brand that's so famous it's become the byword for products that get marks out of your car paintwork.
This T-Cut scratch remover we tested is rapid in name. But is it rapid by nature? Some of the scratch removers we tested did a much quicker job than others. Log in now or find out if that was the case with T-Cut.
Turtle Wax claims its Scratch Repair & Renew can remove years of damage in one use.
As well as the nine products above, we also pitted WD40 against the same rigorous set of tests to see how it did as a scratch remover.
WD40 is a multi-use product and a necessity for any garage or shed. It stops squeaks, loosens rusted parts, frees sticky mechanisms, drives out moisture but did it remove the scratches?
Yes it did. However, it took four applications of WD40 to make a noticeable difference and it washed away the next day during the first clean, so you could see the scratches just as clearly again.
This makes WD40 a useful fix to temporarily hide a shallow car scratch until you have time to get to one of the best dedicated products.
There are three types of scratches which can affect a car panel: shallow or surface scratches, medium or basecoat scratches and deep scratches.
To understand the different types of scratches you also need to know about the layers that make up a car panel on most cars:
Most shallow and medium scratches can be quite hard to tell apart. If you spot a scratch on your car but can't tell how deep it is there is an easy method to test this.
Pass your fingernail over the mark. If your fingernail gets caught, this is a medium scratch at the very least.
With most deep scratches you'll see a line which is a different colour to your car. That is the primer or metal itself showing through, depending on the depth of the scratch.
If you've identified a shallow scratch on your car and want to use one one of our recommended car scratch removers. Here's what you need to do:
Protect your hands with rubber gloves Many of these products contain strong chemicals which can be an irritant to bare skin. If any of the car scratch remover does get on your bare skin, wash it off with soap and rigorous scrubbing.
Prep the area Make sure you've cleaned the area you are going to apply the car scratch remover to with a decent car shampoo. Bear in mind, some of these products need to be applied out of direct sunlight or in a cool place, so check the instructions.
Grab a clean cloth or pad We used a fresh microfibre cloth for each of the car scratch removers we tested. Some kits come with a foam applicator pad or you can buy these yourself separately. While not essential, they do make application easier.
Prepare for more than one application Even on shallow scratches we tested on we found that many car scratch removers needed more than one application to get rid of the scratch.
Polish the whole body Once you've finished and the scratch is invisible you might notice the area you worked on has a slightly different finish to the rest of the car. It could be shinier, duller or just have a bit of haze across it. At this point, we recommend you give your car some TLC and polish the whole body.
Even the most careful and responsible drivers can end up with deep scratches on their car from time to time.
Our Best Buy car scratch remover was the only product of those we tested which made any difference to medium and deep scratches, though it didn't completely remove them.
If you identify a deep scratch on your car it may be time to turn to the professionals. Depending on the depth of the scratch, a bodywork repair shop will either be able to smooth it out or if need be replace the car panel.
We used masking tape to divide an unmarked car door into zones: one zone for each car scratch remover we were testing
Using a utility knife at the shortest setting and applying very light pressure, we dragged the knife across each zone four times (twice in one direction and twice in the other) to make our shallow scratches.
We tested the depth of these by applying blue tac to the scratch.
Each car scratch remover was given four chances to remove the four shallow scratches in its zone. The car scratch remover was applied with a microfibre cloth following the manufacturer's instructions.
After each application, the zone was examined to see what difference, if any, had been made to the scratches. The fewer applications needed, the higher the car scratch remover scored.
We also applied a medium and deep scratch to each section to see if each car scratch remover made a difference to these. However, as most of the products we tested don't claim to remove these types of scratches, they didn't lose marks if they couldn't, but we have pointed out the ones which did the best job on these types of scratches.
We also judged on how the overall zone looked after the final application. The best products left us with a glossy, clean finish which uplifted the overall appearance of the car panel. The worst left our car panel with hazy smudges, which took a bit of effort to get rid of.
For our final test, we washed each zone with car shampoo and warm water the day after we'd applied the car scratch removers. We washed each zone until the scratches reappeared or a maximum of five times. The more washes the product survived, the higher it scored.
The best car scratch removers survived all five washes. The worst washed away the first time.
We tested popular car scratch removers which could be applied by hand and were available at UK retailers.
We bought all the products we tested.