How to remove scratches from a car: a complete guide

There is nothing worse than discovering a new scratch on your car’s surface... Whether it’s a light scratch or swirls, it can be easily solved without the need for expensive repairs at a body shop. Check out our article below for a simple guide on how to get rid of scratches on your vehicle with the use of a few Turtle Wax scratch remover products

oxidation and scratches on an old red car paint oxidation and scratches on an old red car paint

What is the difference between scratch removers and polishing compounds

Differences in the formulation. Scratch and Swirl Remover products, in general, have similar performance characteristics to rubbing and polishing compounds. Scratch and Swirl Removers, however, are formulated, and product instructions are tailored, for repairing light overall finish blemishes or localized repair.

Deciding which scratch repair product is best for your car. If oxidation and dull finish is the focus; then Rubbing and Polishing Compounds are the best to use. If the focus is scratch repair or removal of finish blemishes, then the focus should be Scratch Repair or Scratch and Swirl removing products.

turtle wax scratch repair and renew being applied with a green microfiber cloth on a scratched black car paint turtle wax scratch repair and renew being applied with a green microfiber cloth on a scratched black car paint

How do car scratch remover products work?

  • Scratch and Swirl Removal products usually consist of formulations containing mild or specialty polishing agents designed to remove light surface imperfections and may contain wax or clear polymers to fill in deeper abrasions.
  • These products are usually one-step, single application formulas, that allow quick and easy paintwork finish improvement.   These products can be used for localized repair to a single scratch or can be applied like a conventional wax for overall car finish restoration. It’s important to keep in mind that the product performance is limited due to the mild cleansing and polishing attributes of these formulations, meaning that these scratch removal formulations might not be able to remove stronger oxidation, in which case polishing or rubbing compound should be used.
removing swirls and scratches on black car using a green microfiber cloth and Turtle Wax Scratch Repair & Renew removing swirls and scratches on black car using a green microfiber cloth and Turtle Wax Scratch Repair & Renew

Removing swirls from paintwork

  • Step 1: Start by washing and drying the car.
  • Step 2: Apply the Turtle Wax Scratch Repair & Renew to a soft cotton/microfiber towel folded into a 6" x 6" square. Spread the product to a 2' x 2' foot square area on the finish.
  • Step 3: Rub with firm hand pressure, using back and forth strokes, for about 60 seconds.
  • Step 4: Let dry to a light haze and remove excess with a soft cotton or microfiber towel.
  • Step 5: Continue polishing one section at a time, using a clean cotton/microfiber towel as needed. 
  • Light localized scratch marks can be polished in the same manner except wrap the towel around your first two fingers and use firm finger pressure to rub the scratch with back and forth motion, 10 or 20 times in the same direction of the scratch.  Repeat application until the area improves and the mark is less visible.

TIP: Try not to polish hot surfaces or polish the paint in direct sunlight. The finish should be cool to the touch.

full step guide how to remove light scratches using Turtle Wax scratch repair and renew compound using a green microfiber cloth and hand application full step guide how to remove light scratches using Turtle Wax scratch repair and renew compound using a green microfiber cloth and hand application

Removing light scratches

  • Step 1: Start by washing and drying the car.
  • Step 2: If possible, mark the scratch with masking tape placing the masking tape 1" above and 1" below the scratch in order to help the application process. 
  • Step 3: Apply the Turtle Wax Scratch Repair & Renew with a microfiber cloth in a back and forth motion for 30 seconds with firm finger pressure.
  • Step 4: Wipe dry with a clean microfiber towel and inspect the area for defect removal. Inspect the results of the initial hand application and asses whether further steps are needed.
  • Step 5: Reapply Scratch Repair and Renew until desired results are achieved or the scratch becomes clear or invisible.
  • Step 6: Repeat the process up to 5 times.
  • Step 7: Finish by applying the compound to a larger surrounding area to blend in the repair.

If the scratch is slightly deeper or you have a large car surface affected by the imperfections, we would recommend using an orbital DA instead of a hand application as this applies higher pressure and warrants more professional results.

For a full step-by-step guide on how to use an orbital polisher in combination with the Scratch Repair & Renew, visit our How to wax a car article.

Turtle Wax US rubbing compounds for removal of stubborn scratches and car paintwork imperfections Turtle Wax US rubbing compounds for removal of stubborn scratches and car paintwork imperfections

Stubborn scratch & blemish removal

Note: paste compounds are more aggressive than liquid compounds. On new, darker paint finishes we recommend Turtle Wax Clean Finish Polishing Compound. On older, oxidized paint finishes we recommend cleaning with paste compounds.

severely scratched car bumper being removed and repainted by a professional at a car body shop severely scratched car bumper being removed and repainted by a professional at a car body shop

How to get deep scratches out of the car surface

  • Localized scratch damage or other paint imperfections, such as stone chips, paint transfer, and deeper abrasions may require sanding and polishing regimen or paint repair.  
  • Paint repair will require the need to fill the scratch with a matching touch up paint and/or clear coat paint resin.
  • For more severe cases, we recommend finding a professional auto repair shop near you.
Turtle Wax color magic black product shot from 2018 shoot Turtle Wax color magic black product shot from 2018 shoot

Removing scratches from a black car

As imperfections tend to be more noticeable on black cars, we would recommend a specialized solution. Our Jet Black product range uses pigments to cover any light surface scratches, swirls and imperfections in order to bring out the deepest black appearance

  • Step 1: Wash and dry vehicle.
  • Step 2: We recommend using Turtle Wax Color Magic Black as a 1-step solution for removing minor scratches and swirls on a black car surface. Test on a small area to check a color match. 
  • Step 3: Shake well prior to the application. Apply a small amount of product onto a damp foam applicator or cloth and spread evenly on one section at a time.
  • Step 4: Allow to dry to a haze.
  • Step 5: Remove excess with a soft cloth & buff lightly to achieve high gloss and color depth.
Turtle Wax ICE spray wax being applied on a black car following car scratch repair process to renew the shine Turtle Wax ICE spray wax being applied on a black car following car scratch repair process to renew the shine

Finishing steps

If you need some more guidance on how to wax a car properly, follow our step-by-step guide.

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