What Do I Use to Rub Out Scratches on My Car?

by Chet Carrie

Anyone who takes pride in the appearance of his car knows how frustrating it can be to walk out of the house or a store and catch a glimpse of a tiny scratch on the hood or under the door handle. You look at it from every angle, just to make sure the sun isn't playing tricks with your eyes, and test the little scratch with a fingernail to see if it's real. And usually it is. Thankfully, if it's not too deep, a solution can be found that doesn't require a body shop.


This popular product has been advertised on TV and the Internet as the be-all-end-all scratch remover kit. Advertised as a kit that needs "no sanding, tools, or hard labor," Fix-It caters to the do-it-yourself car repair with its simplicity. However, Fix-It's simplicity is also the reason you should only use it when the scratch is in the clear coat (the final, clear layer of the paint job), or isn't as deep as the primer (the base of the paint job). Popular Mechanics magazine put Fix-it to the test, saying, "this tube of clear coat only works on superficial damage." At a price range of around $7 to $15, Fix-It makes a nice detailer to keep in the glove compartment.

Turtle Wax Scratch & Swirl Remover

The name Turtle Wax is synonymous with waxing and buffing cars to make them shine. However, Turtle Wax also offers a scratch repair kit to help maintain the luster of your car's paint job. Waxing or washing a car with rough or gritty towels can cause tiny, swirled scratches in the clear coat called swirl marks. These are essentially the same as regular scratches with the exception that they are usually more noticeable and harder to fix with a pen repair kit. Turtle Wax Scratch & Swirl Remover is a rubbing compound that goes on a cloth first to cover a wider area and is a great scratch cover-up to keep in the garage.

3M Scratch Remover

For both light scratches and swirl marks, the rubbing compound 3M Scratch Remover is a handy option for both the garage and the street. Endorsed by Popular Mechanics as a kit that "lets the novice DIY-er fix bodywork blemishes quickly and inexpensively," 3M is available for as little as $10. It works by using micro-abrasive compounds to round out scratch edges while you're applying it, making scratches smoother instead of simply filling them. Use for intermediate scratches to keep your car looking polished.


Be careful when repairing a paint scratch, as improper methods may result in worse damage. Scratch repair kits use various chemicals that may be irritants and should be used according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you can see the primer (the gray or white paint base), these products will not diminish the appearance of the scratch and the offending scratch should be professionally repaired.

About the Author

Chet Carrie has been writing since 2004. He served as an editor for a university magazine and has freelanced for several newspapers. Carrie holds a Bachelor of Arts in English.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera a car in a car show image by Gary from Fotolia.com