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Scratch removers

They don't go deep

Last updated: February 2014

Many people would assume a product called a "scratch remover" would remove all scratches from a car's paint. But after testing a few do-it-yourself scratch removers, we found they have their limits.

All can remove very light scratches and imperfections, such as swirl marks, hazing, or oxidation. But you have to be careful you don't make the condition worse.

Anatomy of a scratch

Swirl marks are the light, often circular scratches that can result from washing or drying your car with a dirty cloth, using an overly abrasive polish, or using a drive-through car wash that hasn't been well maintained, among other causes. In addition to the scratch removers we tested, a cleaner/wax or some car polishes can be used to smooth out the marks.

Deeper, more noticeable scratches are harder to correct. Those that haven't penetrated the paint's clearcoat layer can be made less noticeable by using one of the better products in this group. Scratches that expose the primer or metal underneath, however, must be repainted. You can try using touch-up paint, but a professional is most likely to provide the best results.

 

How the products work

After using any scratch remover, apply a car wax to help protect the surface. In previous tests, we gave top marks to Black Magic Wet Shine Liquid Wax, Turtle Wax Carnauba Car Wax, and Eagle One Nanowax. All can help remove oxidation and swirl marks.

Preventing scratches

  • Wash your car once a week. Dirt on the paint can easily lead to scratches.

  • Don't slide objects across the paint. Even grocery bags can cause scratches.

  • If you wash a car by hand, don't use an abrasive cloth such as one with synthetic fibers. We suggest a clean sponge or sheepskin mitt.

  • Hose off any dirt or grime before you begin washing, and frequently rinse the sponge or mitt in clean water. If it drops on the ground, don't use it until it has been thoroughly cleaned.

  • Dry the paint with a clean chamois or terrycloth towels.

  • Wax using microfiber towels or soft all-cotton cloths, such as cloth diapers.

   

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