The 8 best car anti-scratches in 2021

Staff, courtesy of Chemical Guys

Paint scratches are a virtually inevitable part of vehicle ownership, even on low mileage cars. Roads are not sterile environments, and driving on them will pick up gravel, wood chips, microscopic dust, and all kinds of nasty stuff. These contaminants linger on body panels and damage the top clear coat of paint, most often manifesting as ugly swirls that appear under harsh light.

Fortunately, there are many products that are formulated to repair the damage caused by the clear coat, returning it to its shiny and silky shape. Liquid varnishes use a mild abrasive grade to smooth out paint imperfections. They can be applied by hand using foam and microfiber pads, or an electric car pad can be used to further enhance their effect. Doing it manually will take a lot of effort, so when correcting the paint we recommend using a stamp.

What to look for

The first thing to know is that while polishes and anti-scratch products are incredibly useful for the automotive refinishing process, they are not a panacea. Retail products are great for any small imperfections with regular use, but things like deep scratches or prolonged UV damage will require more paint repair than over-the-counter varnishes can provide. Be sure to check out professional detail resources to find out what’s best for your car. It is also crucial to wash and dry the car thoroughly before applying any anti-scratch products.

It is strongly recommended to also make a “test area” before applying the product to the rest of the car. This test area can offer you a lot of information such as the correct RPM and OPM (and buffer) to remove scratches without damaging the surrounding paint.

When it comes to specific varnishes, some are softer and designed to be applied on a semi-regular basis, while others are abrasive and designed to help reverse months or years of wear. Typically, polishing is used to remove haze from the mixing step, when the compound is the most abrasive. Some varnishes are also marked for use on specific types of surfaces or paint, as opposed to general use. After removing scratches, apply a sealant such as wax or ceramic to protect the paint in the long term. Some varnishes additionally have a sealer included in their chemical composition, which speeds up the finishing process.

How we selected

Popular mechanics selected these products at various price points based on a combination of personal experience with details and expertise from publications such as AutoWeek, Motor Authority, and SuperStreet.

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Buy at a low price

Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Ultra Finishing Varnish


$ 12.16

This Meguiar’s Finishing Polish is a smooth liquid best suited for correcting light paint, but can also be pre-empted with a coarse Ultra-Cut compound for more difficult jobs. The anti-drying ingredients also stop sticking to the paint surface before application is complete. The scratch remover is easily distributed by circular movements of the hand or by an electric pad.

Meguiar’s recommends setting your tool to around 1,500 RPM, or 4,800 OPM in the case of an orbital polisher. After correction, excess polish should be wiped off with a clean towel and a sealer should be applied separately.


All in one

One Car 3D Scratch & Swirl Eliminator

This 3D One product features a scratch remover, friction compound, topcoat and sealer in one vial, with an even coating to be applied for full detail. It is certified to completely erase scars and blemishes caused by sand and dirt down to approximately 13 microns.

The manufacturer claims that it “removes many moderate to severe surface imperfections on all paint colors” and improves clearcoat protection for a few months. It can also be followed by a dedicated ceramic to seal the shine for longer.

For a complete paint restoration, the product can be applied with a coarser buff cap, then apply another cover coat with a smooth cap to bring out the mirror finish.

  • All-in-one details
  • Shines and removes large scratches

2 in 1

Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Wax and Polish

Turtle wax

$ 16.99

This Turtle Wax compound promises to “correct, polish, wax and protect your vehicle in one easy step” and can be applied by hand or by pad. It is a relatively light varnish which also serves as a protective ceramic coating as it dries. The ceramic lasts about three or four months before the car needs another detail.

As an option, it can be “hydro-activated” shortly after application by ironing over the body with a damp microfiber cloth. This activation adds extra shine to the coat.

  • Ceramic coating
  • Hydro-activated gloss
  • The sealer only lasts a few months

Professional level

3M Perfect-It Machine Polished


$ 60.19

A more professional level product intended for use with electric pads, this 3M compound can remove scratches from paint, gelcoat and fiberglass surfaces. This product is a mainstay of body shops, and automakers even use it to shine the coats of cars before they leave the factory.

For a complete restoration, it should be combined with a friction compound or an ultra-fine topcoat, followed by the sealant of choice. Neither product is really cheap, but quarter-sized bottles should last for multiple applications.

  • Professional finish
  • Made in the USA
  • Large bottles


Nu-Finish Liquid Car Varnish

Nude finish

$ 22.29

More of a protector than a heavy remover for scratches, the manufacturer states that it does not require any rubbing or polishing to apply. With that in mind, it would be best to pair it with a coarser compound on anything but the freshest paint.

Nu Finish claims the product seals and protects the clearcoat for up to a year after application, and can also be used to add shine to fiberglass and chrome.

  • Protects all year round
  • Works on multiple surfaces
  • Too light for serious paint correction

Easy repair

Chemical Guys Scratch and Swirl Remover

Chemistry guys

$ 17.27

This medium compound is intended to restore “moderate to severe surface imperfections” for use with orbital polishing tools. This product has been shown to effectively remove swirls and in some cases even make deep scratches almost invisible. All for a very affordable price, although no sealing compound is included.

Chemical Guys also has a ton of online resources, including video tutorials, to teach customers how to apply scratch remover correctly and get the best results.

  • One-step paint correction
  • Online tutorials

For dark coats

Turtle Wax Color Magic Jet Black Car Polish

When it comes to automotive details, black colors can be frustrating. They will often glow like nothing else, but will also be the most eager to show tiny imperfections after use.

This Turtle Wax compound has been specially formulated to restore and protect those dark layers, even bringing back some color to paints that have faded under UV exposure. The varnish itself will only repair light swirls and scratches, so it can be best paired with a heavier cutting compound for a full restoration.

After application, the product leaves a wax coating which should protect your vehicle from dust and sun damage for at least a few months. Just be sure to wear gloves, as this particular compound can leave dark stains on skin and clothing.

  • Ideal for black
  • Sealing wax
  • Not for deep scratches
  • May stain hands

Two-step restaurant

Chemical Guys Polish Cutter and Finishing Kit

Chemistry guys

$ 29.99

This second Chemical Guys kit is aimed at the most demanding retailers and offers two separate product bottles. One contains a thick cutting polish designed to really penetrate the clear coat and remove all kinds of road injuries and scars, while the second, lighter compound is used afterwards to smooth the coat and give it a finish. mirror.

This two-step process is more meticulous and time-consuming, but can be just what a car needs if it has suffered long periods of neglect. The wax or ceramic coating will need to be purchased and applied separately. Again, the Chemical Guys website contains guides and instructions from professional designers.

  • Deep paint restoration
  • Online Resources

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