The Best Car Scratch Remover

Meguiar's G17216 Ultimate Compound

Our Top Pick for 2016: Meguiar’s G17216 Ultimate Compound
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $7.90*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

Maintaining or restoring a vehicle’s paint takes more than routine washing. It is also necessary to remove light scrapes, scratches, watermarks, swirls, holograms, dirt, contaminants and other defects that have diminished the paint’s original shine and sparkle. The beauty of the paint can be improved without harsh abrasives and power tools. Experience with body work is not required. There are scratch removing compounds on the market that can be used by the vehicle’s owner to remove these scratches and defects, and to restore the vehicle to its original state of glory.

Table of contents

No Tools Required
Removes Oxidation, Swirl Marks And Scratches
Penetrates Through The Oxidized Surface To Remove Scratches
Restores Shine And Gloss To Scratched And Scuffed Painted Areas
Effective For Removing Water Spots
Restores Faded Finishes
Enhances Appearance
Restores Surface Clarity Without Scratching
Easy To Use Formula
Incluldes Rubbing Compound, Scratch Remover, Abrasive Square And Foam Pad
Adds Gloss In One Step
Heavy Duty Paste
Safe Clear Coat
Perfect To Use Before Waxing
Removes Blemishes And Stubborn Stains

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Meguiar’s G17216 Ultimate Compound

Meguiar's G17216 Ultimate Compound Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $7.90*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerMequiar’s G17216 Ultimate Compound is the gold pick and quickly triumphs over traditional polishing compounds. It is available in 15.2 ounces. It is applied in a simple, one step process, and is designed with revolutionary micro-abrasive technology that combines the power and efficiency found in more abrasive compounds. The unique design provides results similar to abrasive compounds, without the high risk of scratching or harming the clear finish on the body of the vehicle.

Mequiar’s is designed to work quickly. The kit saves time and energy. Sanding and polishing take place in one easy step. Mequiar’s quickly polishes off oxidation. Oxidation can leave the vehicle’s paint looking chalky and scarred. Waxing will only temporarily conceal the problem. Water spots, stains, light scratches, cobweb swirls and etching are no match for Mequiar’s Ultimate Compound.

Mequiar’s is recommended to rejuvenate dull paint on faded vehicles. Making the paint shiny again on a neglected or often unwashed or waxed car is achievable with Mequiar’s. It can be used on 17-year-old vehicles with thousands of miles or on newer vehicles. Maintain beautiful paint or restore beautiful paint with Mequiar’s. A quarter sized amount of product for every three to four square feet, applied evenly with light buffing pressure, will result in smoothness and clarity. Do not let the product dry before buffing. Microfiber bonnets over the foam on a low-speed buffer is a gentle approach that will capture most of the under surface contaminants. The product can also be used with a high-speed radial buffer for more complex buffing needs.

This off the shelf compound is highly recommended for its professional outcome. A buffer used in the application of Mequiar’s will assist in cutting through tough to remove oxidation. This product is not designed for deep scratches, but it will remove light scratches and etching. The Ultimate Compound has good lubrication and workability. The oils within the product are an excellent component that contributes to the product’s success, but they can also conceal scratches during the buffing process. Keep a spray bottle handy, filled with water and some dishwashing liquid, to spray and wipe the area. This will remove the oil and allow you to view the work in process. Reapply product and continue until the finish is satisfactory.

The Ultimate Compound is a great product for restoring faded sections on the vehicle, including side mirrors and bumpers. The results are lasting and easily achieved. Grab a microfiber towel, pour on some of the product, and rub in a fast circular motion on a faded area. The success achieved in just 20 seconds of rubbing is noticeable. This is a safe product to use, because it will gently remove scratches and improve the beauty of the paint without harsh abrasives. Use a cotton pad or cloth to apply the product and to achieve lasting results. Achieve outstanding results with just a little elbow grease. Power equipment is not always necessary when using Mequiar’s Ultimate Compound.

A shopping cart scratch, scratches left from improper car washing, and a myriad of other light scratches can be removed with the Ultimate Compound. Mequiar’s works great on minor scratches. A minor, light scratch differs from a deep scratch. A light scratch can be seen, but not felt. They go slightly into the paint and cannot be washed away, but they can be removed with this powerful off-the-shelf compound. It is easy to apply and remove the Ultimate Polish. To avoid dried smears, apply a small amount of polish to the scratch and buff it off completely. When using an electric buffer, use multiple clothes when working with a space larger than a few square feet. The product goes a long way. Using less is best.

A Christmas tree transported on the top of vehicle can leave dull scratches on the roof and on an adjacent window. The scratches on the roof and window can be removed with Mequiar’s Ultimate Polish. Use a terry cloth applicator and apply to the scratched glass with small, firm circular motions. The Ultimate Compound is ideal for removing gently etched scratches in glass, as well as on body of the vehicle. The micro-abrasive technology will produce top of the line results.

Mequiar’s Ultimate Compound is perfect for auto detailing and care. The clear product is safe for use on all vehicle colors. It works fast without the use of excess abrasion or scratching. The compound quickly and easily restores color on abused or neglected finishes. A quick coat can make a color pop. It provides better results than many traditional products, and it helps save time and effort. Shipping weight is just one pound. Mequiar’s provides a glossy, like new finish in just one step. Mequiar’s Dual Action Polisher and Supreme Shine Microfiber Towel are recommended for best results. Follow up with a Mequiar’s Ultimate Polish and Ultimate Wax or comparable product for lasting, high shine results. The product is available in a kit with a much smaller amount of compound. The 15.2 ounce bottle can be used to repair numerous scratches and defects. Mequiar’s Ultimate Compound will deep clean and revitalize vehicles paint.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): 3M 39087 Scratch and Scuff Removal Kit

3M 39087 Scratch and Scuff Removal Kit

View it on Amazon for $14.35*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerThe 3M 39087 Scratch Removal System is the silver pick. The 3M kit provides everything needed for a three-step vehicle scratch and scuff removal. The 3M kit includes one ounce of scratch remover, one ounce of rubbing compound, a 3,000 grit abrasive square and an orange foam pad. A water bottle, microfiber towels and paper towels will also be needed.

The 3M kit is an easy and inexpensive way to remove fine scratches on door handles, door panels, the trunk or the hood. Three steps are needed to remove the scratches. Step one is sanding, step two is compounding, and step three is polishing. Defects in vehicle’s thin outer coating can be removed with 3M. No extra tools are required. Electric sanders and buffers are not necessary.

The 3M kit is for scratches that do not reach the paint layer. The 3M 39087 Scratch and Scuff Kit is only for the removal of minor scratches and scuffs created in a vehicle’s clear exterior coating, during everyday driving. Vehicles paint has four layers. These four layers include a clear coat, a base coat, primer and sheet metal. Deep scratches, acid rain pits and other deep defects cannot be treated with the 3M kit. This product is for use on scratches that do not require painting for repair. Do not use the product without considering the current condition of the vehicle’s paint.

The 3M kit is for use on light scratches only. To discern whether the scratch is treatable with 3M, run your fingernail over the scratch. You should not feel any indent. If your fingernail catches, as it glides over the scratch, it is not suitable for repair with the 3M kit. If you can see metal in the scratch, the repair is not suitable for the 3M kit.

The kit’s instructions are clear and precise for easy use. First, the vehicle should be cleaned thoroughly to remove all grit and dirt. Next, a spray bottle should be used to wet the abrasive pad. Lightly sand the scratch for 10 seconds. Light foam will appear. Wipe the foam gently from the sanded area with a paper towel, and check the status of the scratch. If the scratch remains visible, repeat the wet sanding for a few more seconds. Observe the scratched area from different angles. It is important to check the sanding results every ten seconds, according to the manual. When you can no longer see the scratch, wipe the area with a clean cloth. Now dab a little rubbing compound on the sponge applicator and rub it in with circular motions. Wipe it off with the microfiber towel. Next, flip the applicator pad over and apply the scratch remover. Wipe again with the microfiber towel and the scratch will be gone.

Sanding the scratch may initially be unnerving, but it does work. This little kit can save hundreds of dollars in costly repairs for vehicle owners. The sponge is then used to polish the sanded area, using the included paste. There is enough of the product provided to repair several small areas. The packets cannot be resealed, but they could be stored in an additional sealed package for later use. 3M Performing Masking Tape should be used to protect bumpers, molding and any decals when they are near a scratch being repaired.

When the product is used according to the manual, customers have been pleased. The scratch remover included in the kit is safe and effective in removing swirls, scratches and minor oxidation by hand. An important reminder is to work in an area no larger than 4 inches by 4 inches, while using light to medium pressure. Consistently check to avoid over sanding. The results have been considered to be magical in reviews.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Turtle Wax T-241A Polishing Compound & Scratch Remover

Turtle Wax T-241A Polishing Compound & Scratch Remover

View it on Amazon for $2.71*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardTurtle Wax T-241A Polishing Compound & Scratch Remover gets the Bronze Pick. This is an inexpensive, quick fix. The compounding paste is sold by the popular company, Turtle Wax. The paste offers an easy fix and an inexpensive solution for stains, scratches and blemishes. It can be used to restore vitality to faded paint. 10.5 ounces of product can last years, if kept handy on a basement or garage shelf.

The Turtle Wax Polishing Compound is for use on very light scratches and oxidation. Tree sap and bird droppings can leave patches of oxidation. These patches are usually very small, and they can be easily removed with the Turtle Wax Compound. First wash and dry the vehicle. Starting with a clean vehicle is important. Dab a small amount of the compound onto a dry cloth, and rub the compound on a small patch of the oxidation for about fifteen seconds. Rinse the area with a water bottle and wipe with a cloth, to see if the oxidation has been removed. Repeat, until it is removed. The compound is mild, but do not excessively rub without rinsing and checking.

Turtle Wax Polishing Compound can be used on plastic and on paint. So, it can be used on headlights and the door panel, if there has been a scrape against a garage door. Place a small amount of Turtle Wax Compound on a rag and rub it on the taillight and the door panel. Use elbow grease, and take the time needed to remove any oxidation and faint scratches in that area only. Don’t get carried away and do the entire back. Follow up with a light wax, and the scrape should become invisible. Follow up with a wax on the entire car.

Reviews have mentioned using a tiny dab of the compound to remove light scratches from CDs or DVDs and other plastics. Light grit sandpaper can also be used to blend scratches in plastic, before applying the Turtle Wax Compound. The compound may leave noticeable swirls on plastics and on paint. Use some extra elbow grease to rub the area clean with a soft cloth. Following up with a separately purchased clear coat polishing compound will remove any remaining swirl marks and leave a shiny, new appearance.

The Turtle Wax T-241A Polishing Compound & Scratch Remover is highly recommended, as a headlight restoration tool. The compound offers an inexpensive alternative to a headlight restoration kit. The steps are easy and quick. Use a slightly damp cloth with a dab of compound. Rub the headlight with the compound. Use some elbow grease, and rinse with water from a bucket or a spray bottle. Add some more Turtle Wax Compound to the cloth and repeat, until the rinse shows a brighter, clearer headlight. Dry with a clean cloth.

The Turtle Wax Polishing Compound can be used for a myriad of small scratch removing projects. The Turtle Wax Polishing Compound can be used to remove the fine scratches left on the vehicle’s door or trunk, from the keys. The compound is less abrasive than premium compounds. The dangers of damaging your clear coat with the product are slim. Using the Turtle Wax compound to remove light scratches is fairly easy and could take as little as five minutes. Avoid using this product for large areas of coverage. This product is designed for small areas with light to moderate oxidation or scratches.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Formula 1 615011 Scratch Out Liquid Rubbing Compound

Formula 1 615011 Scratch Out Liquid Rubbing Compound

View it on Amazon for $5.88*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickFormula 1 615011 Scratch Out Liquid Rubbing Compound headlight is the best “cheap” fix. This 8 ounce bottle of liquid compound may be small, but it is mighty. Small detailing jobs can be tackled using this easy-to-use compound. The liquid contains micro polishers that are safe for removing surface scratches, oxidation, swirls and haze made vehicles clear coat. This is a gentle rubbing compound that works to restore the paint color and finish.

The nonabrasive liquid is designed to gently lift surface discoloration or light scratches. Individuals looking for a liquid miracle may not achieve a miracle with this product, but they will see improvement. Apply some compound onto older headlights, and use a rag to rub the compound over the yellow haze and scratches. Allow the compound to lightly dry. Vigorously rub. Rinse and dry with a clean cloth to view the progress. If the haze and scratches remain, reapply and rub with some extra pressure. The end result will be reduced haze and reduced scratches. Extended periods of strenuous rubbing may be necessary to completely remove the yellowing and haze. Reapply the next few times the car is washed, until the desired look is achieved.

Liquid Rubbing Compound can be used to renew an older car before trading it in or selling it. Wash and dry the car. Look for any scratches and noticeable oxidation. Shake the bottle well. Apply a small amount of liquid compound onto a clean dry rag and to rub the areas that need renewal. Let the compound lightly dry. Then vigorously rub the area with a lot of pressure. Completely remove the compound with a dry cloth to assess the progress. If scratches and discoloration remain, reapply for liquid compound. Wash and wax the car, and enjoy its revitalized appearance. This little bit of time and effort can increase the perceived value of the car.

Living in the city leaves vehicles susceptible to minor scratches and paint scuffs. This product is able to achieve good results. The liquid compound is sometimes easier to use than the paste. This may be a perfect product for someone with very little time, but a desire to see their vehicle looking its best. Little smudges of paint left by someone opening their car door into your car can be removed with the Liquid Rubbing Compound. Keeping a bottle handy for small areas, would be a good idea. This is a perfect product, for those on a budget.

Pre-purchase considerations

Liquid Compound vs. Paste Compound

Novice users find that the liquid compound is less intimidating to use. There is less threat of damage due to error, because the liquid is less abrasive. However, if the towel used is too soft, it may not provide enough friction to remove scratches and to restore the finish. The liquid compound requires additional physical exertion. Paste is more abrasive, and less physical effort is required during the application.

Sand Paper in the Scratch Removal Process

The use of sandpaper in the scratch removal process is necessary with some compounds. Using sandpaper on the car’s finish is very unnerving to many people, but prepping the area for treatment may require the use of gentle, low grit sandpaper. Using a compound that recommends light sanding before application can save hundreds of dollars in costly repairs at a body shop. Vehicle paint has four layers, and the low grit sandpaper will only remove scratches or oxidation from the clear coat exterior. Outstanding results can be achieved when using sand paper in the scratch removal process.

Inexpensive but Impressive Result

The inexpensive products featured here, have received raving reviews from users. Using a compound to remove scratches on plastic, glass and paint can save the owner hundreds of dollars. Removing the yellow hue from headlights brightens up the road and improves the appearance of the vehicle. Dents and scrapes that go beyond the surface of the paint cannot be removed with an inexpensive one step compound, but a myriad of small scratches and other defects can be removed or improved.

The inexpensive products featured here are safe to use and require little to no prepping. Impressive results can be achieved on both older and new vehicles. A bottle of compound can sit waiting on the shelf until it’s needed. The product can last years.

Are Complementary Products Needed?

Complementary products are not needed for the use of Mequiar’s Ultimate Compound, but some complementary products are recommended. These products include: Mequiar’s Dual Action Polisher, and Supreme Shine Microfiber towel.

The 3M 39087 Scratch and Scuff Removal Kit recommends the use of 3M Performing Masking Tape to cover bumpers, molding and any decals near the area that is being treated. Formula 1 615011 Scratch Out Liquid Compound, Turtle Wax T-241A Polishing Compound & Scratch Remover do not require the use of any compliments we products.

Basic supplies are required for each product. The supplies needed include: paper towels, a spray bottle and microfiber towels. Forum users have recommended the use of low speed, electric buffers for additional buffing power, when using Mequiar’s Ultimate Compound. The application of a complementary wax, following the use of any of these products, will protect the work accomplished.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

Consistent care of a vehicle’s paint requires the periodic use of scratch removing compounds. Professional looking outcomes can be achieved through the use of great products. Scratch removing compounds will restore faded sections on the vehicle, remove scratches and improve the beauty of the paint, without the use of harsh ingredients. Water spots, cobweb swirls, yellowing headlights and light scratches are no match for these four products.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!


  1. John Decker, How to Repair Your Car Scratch, PopularMechanics, May 3 2007
  2. How to properly clean your car’s paint, AutoEducation, 2015
  3. Boatuser41 (Forum Member), Used polish compound on clear coat, Meguiarsonline, April 24 2011

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