/ Motoring

Are car scratch removers up to… scratch?

Scratched toy cars

How effective are scratch removers? Their name suggests they’re filled with miracle potions, but what can you realistically expect to achieve from scratch removers when you want to get rid of the scuffs from your car?

When we asked Which? members about the products they wanted us to test, scratch removers kept coming up. And, unless you’ve used them before, it’s hard to know how well they’ll perform.

Calling them simply “scratch removers” suggests that there’s no mark too long, too deep or too severe that these sub-£10 DIY products can’t remedy. However, read the descriptions on the label and you’ll soon start to figure out the limitations of these bargain quick fixes.

We put scratch removers to the test

If (like mine does) your car looks like Edward Scissorhands has been grappling with the door handles and the paintwork’s been cleaned with a mixture of gravel and hot Bovril, these DIY scratch removers may have appealed to you. They certainly have to me in the past.

However, every time I’ve used them, I have felt grossly let down. I’m not expecting them to work wonders and completely refurbish my car’s paintwork, but I at least want small marks removed.

So we decided to find out how effective they really are, by sending a selection of leading high street scratch removers to our test lab to discover their actual limitations. You can read the full results in our report, but in general we found that your tenner will only cure the lightest of bodywork scars.

Are scratch removers worth it?

So are they really worth buying? To a certain extent, yes. I decided to get a quote from a body repair shop for respraying my car bonnet, and I was told it would cost me £300. A £10 note for a DIY scratch remover suddenly sounds a lot more tempting now, doesn’t it?

So I’ve not given up on them totally, which means I’ll still have to roll up my sleeves and put in some elbow grease to try and restore the appearance of my car’s paintwork. But how about you guys? Have any of you used scratch removers before? What’s your verdict on the results?

Edward Coodies says:
29 July 2011

There’s no magical polishing product that will just rub a scratch out. Trick is to rub some shoe polish into the scratch then a really fine sand paper to go over and around it slightly. Once the polish disappears, then use the T-Cut or whatever to buff it out and really get the elbow grease going. Garages take the mick with this sort of thing, especially seeing as it’s about an hours work or less if you’ve got a proper polishing wheel.

Shoe polish?
Might last a week.

jez jensen says:
29 July 2011

yeah my mate fat dez’s fiesta got keyed in camberwell by some kids. He reckons he was trying to rub this scratch out all day with some mr sheen and an old pair of boxers he had knocking about, proper rubbing it as well, reckons he was there about 9 hours rubbin this thing and it didn’t improve one bit. take it to the garage man, get some geezer who knows what he’s doing!

Easy test to see if scratch removers can help:

Look at the base of the scratch, if you can see primer, then a scratch remover – ie, the lipstick, will fill it – rubbing across the scratch – then it can be polished over and sealed.
If you can see metal then it will need sanding, reprimed, exact match touch up paint (using your cars colour code – found around the door edges or around your engine) then finished with some rubbing compound. If that is too complicated, then a trip to a body/paint repairers is needed.

Bit of a misrepresentation to call some of these products “scratch remover”.
Modern paint finishes consist of “colour” sometimes even water based (emulsion) topped off with a lacquer to give the final protective surface. If your scratch goes through the lacquer, or worse still through the colour, basically it’s “game over”. No amount of “polishing” is going to effect a solution, there’s nothing to polish. The only answer is more paint.

Some of these so called scratch removers actually fill the scratch with a coloured wax like material. Yes it might look better than before but it won’t last. You’ll be doing it again and again.
Usually these products are the things used to make a car look a bit more presentable when it’s up for sale.

On the basis that “scratch removers” are not long turn solutions, are they good value? Don’t think so, except for used car sales people perhaps.

Geoff H says:
5 August 2011

Like the pic of the ‘toy’ cars, do you play with them in the office. Scratch removers didn’t appear to have worked on them!

If only we had time to play with toy cars! Though I can’t speak for Rob…

Kevin White says:
15 September 2011

Quite an interesting test with the usual suspects, however I would have liked to have seen what you would have made of one of the best selling scratch removers on the market. Quixx.

phillip miler says:
25 July 2012

i have just tried mantis scratch remover what utter nonsense and a waste of money i have a couple of very light marks on my new car thought i’d try it marks still there rub for over 10 minutes its going back to robert dyas tomorrow for a refund IT DOES NOT WORK so don’t waste your money

rashid says:
14 April 2014

Amazing post, but most people do each step mentioned above but the scratches remain the same. Its the brand the you are using that matters and your car’s paint brand; coats,… I have used these 2 great scratch removers “Meguiar’s compound” and “Quixx” and they were awesome! on the other hand I also have tried this one “Turtle”, but it didn’t help me at all, It might be different for u !

Tony Laurens says:
24 March 2021

Has anybody any info on OnCar scratch remover? I’ve got a feeling that it’s a scam!

I bought a proprietary one from Halfords for some hedge marks on a wheel arch. What it did was to fill the scratch with a translucent compound, but the result was not perfect even after a couple of applications. Some removers work on the paint, but I would be careful with them. Applying fresh paint is a skilled job and not for anyone with a tin of spray and a bit of masking tape, tempting though that might be. It is possible to hide a slight scratch from a passing glance, but I don’t think there are any magic cures out there and anything deeper needs a repair shop.

Hi Tony – I have had a look at their website and I think you are right. Try and find an address, phone number, company number, proper terms & conditions including returns information. They do seem to be able to accept payment and have an improbable email address.

Here is some advice from Which? https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/new-and-used-cars/article/best-car-scratch-removers-aGrzV1F66I0H