Can Car Scratch-Repair Kits Remove Damage You Get in the Parking Lot?

Maybe, depending on the size of the damage

Last updated: December 16, 2015 08:00 AM

Scratch-repair pens

Nothing says “holidays” like a scratch-repair kit—at least if you’re unfortunate enough to pick up some new door scrapes while out shopping. The key to success is to choose the right scratch remover, because our tests have found that some work much better than others, and some don’t work at all.

We tested several liquid products, including Mother’s California Gold Scratch Remover ($8), Nu Finish Scratch Doctor ($10), Quixx High Performance Scratch Remover ($20), and Turtle Wax Scratch and Swirl Remover ($6).

All were easy enough to use. You just apply and buff them out, much like you would with a car wax but with a little more rubbing. And all were effective at removing the fine scratches or swirls, or hazing, like you might get at the car wash. (Learn more about money-saving DIY car maintenance and repair.)

Testing scratch repair pens

For deeper scratches, including anything you can feel with a fingernail, only the Quixx performed well. And even Quixx won’t help with larger damage. For deep scratches, dings, or dents, plan on paying a visit to the auto-body shop after the holidays. Unfortunately, those kind of repairs can run to hundreds of dollars fast.

As for those scratch-repair pens you might have seen in department stores or on TV, don’t even bother. We’ve tested several, including the DuPont Pro Fusion Color, the Simoniz Fix It Pro, and the Turtle Wax Scratch Repair Pen. All cost $15 or less. But none of those tested products was worth the trouble.

Our advice is to skip these quick fixes for minor abrasions and try a cleaning polish instead. For deeper scratches, a visit to the body shop might be your best bet.

More holiday gift ideas and tips

Check Consumer Reports' 2015 Holiday Guide for our picks of the best gifts, details on the latest deals, time-saving tips, and much more. And see our countdown calendar for top gift ideas for everyone on your list.

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