Best Rubbing Compound for Car Scratches

Are you tired of scratches and swirls on your car’s bodywork? Does it appear dull and lacks luster? Taking your car in for a professional detail can be an expensive solution.

If you have a cool, dry space to do it, then a home detailing job can be just as good when you have the right products.

Best Rubbing Compound for Car Scratches

So many great compounds are available enabling you to achieve a fantastic, even finish that reminds you of when your car like was new.

Some might remove scratches; others will temporarily mask them, while some combine extra products to give your car a waxy, protective coating.

Comparison Table of 10 Best Rubbing Compound for Car Scratches

All that you are going to need is a little know-how, the right tools for the job and help to choose which will be the top rated rubbing compound for car scratches.

Our definitive guide will help you to get the best rubbing compound for car scratches.

1. No7 Heavy Duty Rubbing Compound

As the name suggests, No7 has designed a heavy-duty compound for those bigger jobs.

It is ideal to smooth out rough and damaged surfaces and has strong abrasive qualities that correct the paint finish on dull and badly weathered cars.

The product can be used either by hand or with an orbital polisher.

Obviously using machinery is a quicker option, but if the product is applied firmly with a damp terry cloth towel, then you will get similar results. It will just mean harder work.

This rubbing compound is clear coat safe and is universal; it will match any color paintwork.

Use this product one section at a time, doing too much in one go will allow it to dry out too much and make it harder to work with.

The surface should be so level and shiny that you won’t need to polish your work, just seal or wax it for protection.

Pros

  • Strong abrasive yet clear coat safe
  • Fast paint correction
  • Removes scuffs and paint transfer caused by accident damage
  • Safe on plastic trim
  • Users describe multiple uses including headlights and water spots on windows and glass
  • For use on any color paint
  • Hand or machine application

Cons

  • Paste slightly more runny than some expected

2. Turtle Wax T-241A Polishing Compound & Scratch Remover

Turtle Wax is an industry leader in car bodywork care; it is easy to see why when you notice the fast results gained from using this product.

The compound is simple to use and makes a huge improvement to all paint imperfections, including oxidization.

Whether you have paint transfer or heavily faded and weathered paintwork, this product will achieve an excellent result.
As it is a heavy-duty paste, it will remove scratches, swirls, and scuffs.

It is formulated with a professional-grade lubricant, thus giving it dual functions. The inbuilt polish will leave your car with a nice glossy finish. Finish the job with a protective coat of wax and no one will ever know what lay beneath!

Whether you are doing a whole restoration job or just repairing a few moderate scratches, then this is ideal for the job.

Pros

  • Simple to use
  • Heavy duty for moderate scratches and all paint imperfections
  • Dual-action, removes and polishes
  • Ideal for spot application or whole vehicle
  • 2 tubs supplied

Cons

  • Lots of elbow grease required for a great result

3. Turtle Wax T-415 Premium Grade Rubbing Compound

This premium-grade rubbing compound actually is one of the least expensive that we will look at yet it seems to do a job equivalent to some of the more expensive products.

The formula is silicone free making the product is safe for use in all detailing, paint and body shops.

Heavy swirls and surface blemishes will be a thing of the past; scratches and paint defects will be corrected.

Whether you choose to use an electrical polisher or do the job by hand, you will achieve a smooth, glossy finish ready for waxing. Obviously, it will take longer by hand but if you persist, professional results are achievable.

Many users were delighted with the outcome of their fine scratch marks for such a reasonable cost.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Professional results
    For use with orbital or dual polisher, or by hand
  • Not harsh but abrasive enough to remove superficial scratches and swirls
  • Large 18 oz bottle

Cons

  • Takes a long time by hand, a much quicker result achieved by machine

4. Meguiar’s G17216 Ultimate Compound

If the paintwork on your car looks particularly neglected and you have minimal time to spend rectifying it, Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound could be the product for you.

It works in much the same way as other more harsh abrasives might, but uses its own, exclusive micro-abrasive technology. This enables the user to remove swirls, water spots and surface scratches using less time and energy than with other similar products.

It cuts quickly, it will restore your color to its former glory and it doesn’t leave a haze.

The compound is simple to apply by hand, apply firm pressure and always use clean pads or cloths.

You will achieve an even, glossy finish that is ready to wax and seal.

Pros

  • ​Exclusive technology allows fast process using less energy
  • Removes low to moderate scratches and scuffs
  • Perfects oxidization, water spots, and faded paintwork
  • Clear coat and single stage paint safe
    Easy to use by hand or dual-action polisher
  • Moly-fortified (contains molybdenum disulfide)

Cons

  • Apply very small amount, thinly and evenly, or product may streak

5. 3M 03900 Rubbing Compound

This is a smaller bottle but with big ideas! The liquid formulation is dual-action; it cleans and smooths out all surfaces. It is safe for use on clear coat, enamel and lacquer finishes. It also has a 36-month shelf life.

It is heavy cut and great for compounding more neglected cars, it will remove moderate scratches, oxidization and coarse swirl marks.

This would be a great choice when looking for a compound to remove scratches after sanding paintwork.

Compounding time is less compared to most other rubs, as the liquid has been ‘fast-cut’.

Therefore, the job should take less time and be easier to do.

Pros

  • 3M is a trusted brand in paint care
  • Ideal for hand or machine use
  • Task made quicker and simpler
  • Heavy cut compound for more aggression on mid-sized scratches
  • Works on all color paint
  • Dual-purpose, cleans and smooths

Cons

  • Small bottle, only 8 fluid ounces
  • Car will still need to be polished after this process

6. 3M 39071 Scratch Removal System

This 3M product is designed for topical use on a small area that has a light scratch or scuff mark.

Almost everything you need to complete the job is supplied. Disc pad holder, abrasive square, compound pad, polish pad and 1 fluid ounce each of rubbing compound and scratch remover.

If your scratch is only light then this kit will suit your job; you need a regular household drill, to fit the disc pad to, and a microfiber cloth.

This 3-step system is easy to follow and 3M guarantee that your fine scratches will be removed and your paint will have a flawless appearance.

As with all of the best rubbing compounds for scratches, you should follow up with a good polishing wax to seal your job.

Pros

  • 3-tiered system, with everything supplied
  • Guaranteed light scratch removal from clear coat
  • Rubbing compound in kit
  • Easy to use, very clear instructions
  • Great price

Cons

  • Only suitable for light, hairline scratches
  • Better that you’re confident and competent with sandpaper and a drill before attempting

7. Chemical Guys Gap Optical Grade Extreme Compound

When more than 81% of users give a product a 5-star review, you can be assured that you have found a quality product.

V32 Extreme Compound is one of the big boys; it has been specifically engineered to remove the most extreme paint defects and imperfections.

Sanding scratches are easily smoothed, general scratches, scuffs, and stains will be removed.

Use this water-based rubbing compound to prepare a silky smooth finish that is ready to polish.

It is VOC compliant and so is safe for the professional detailer or home enthusiast.

The compound has fast-cutting technology that ensures your finish is of premium grade.

Pros

  • Engineered for clear coats and scratch resistant surfaces
  • Formulated using no silicone, oils or fillers
  • Fast-cutting for the worst paint imperfections
  • Works effectively on ceramic or clear coat surfaces
  • Body shop approved
  • Allows for longer working time

Cons

  • Too powerful for small, superficial scratches

8. 3M 05954 Super Duty Compound

Market leaders 3M make another appearance with their Super Duty Rubbing Compound, the huge size bottle of liquid compound that although economically priced, still delivers a high rate of cut. There is enough liquid supplied to do your car and some of the neighbor’s cars too!

This will eliminate, not fill, scratches and remove oxidation from all over the car’s body. It behaves aggressively and smooths out harsh scratches and sanding marks.

The liquid formulation helps it to stay wet for longer periods, giving you more time to work on it. It is not ‘drippy’; it is thick enough to leave behind virtually no mess.

The fact that it is wax and silicone free makes it safe to use in paint and body shops.

You need only apply medium pressure by hand to achieve excellent results although it works equally well with a machine. The result will be a smooth lustrous finish that needs a polish and wax to protect and preserve your perfect finish.

Pros

  • Economical, ideal for large restoration job
  • Removes scratches, sanding scratches, abrasions and scuffs
  • Workable for longer lengths of time
  • For use with hand or machine
  • Eliminate oxidation

Cons

  • Too much product for small, target area
  • Too aggressive for fine scratches and swirls

9. Griot's Garage 10862 Complete Compound

This compound is worth taking into consideration if your car has superficial scratches and swirls, water marks and oxidation damage.

The rubbing compound contains cutting-edge micro-abrasives, that don’t fill the scratch, they remove it. No fillers mean minimal dust is created.

The unique formulation means that as you continue buffing, not only will you have a level surface; it will begin to develop a glossy finish. The more you buff, the more lustrous and depth of shine you will achieve.

This is an absolute positive point; you will no longer need to apply a polish coat, just wax or seal.

Griot’s Garage formula allows for a very simple application, wipe it on, wipe it off and buff it well using a clean microfiber towel.

The finish you achieve will stay that way, scratches can’t reappear in time, and they have been removed.

This compound is safe to use on all surfaces, including clear coats.

Pros

  • Micro abrasive, will remove surface scratches, water spots and oxidation
  • For use by hand or machine
  • Doesn’t fill, removes
  • Safe on all finishes
  • Exclusive cutting-edge abrasives

Cons

  • Not aggressive enough for bigger jobs, orange peel, etc
  • Some users needed a second application to achieve the best results

10. The Ultimate Car Scratch Remover System

Just as it says on the box, this really is the ultimate piece of kit. Every single item that is needed to remove scratches from your car is included.

Generous size bottles of rubbing compound, polishes and waxes, wet and dry sanding block and all of the correct clothes and pads you need to apply them.

This is ideal for the novice scratch repairer, go on the CSR website and watch a start-up guide. Then follow each step-by-step instruction either in the manual or in the dozens of YouTube videos that the company has made.

This is a fantastic investment; each item is reusable and will repair scratches to a particularly high standard on several occasions. It smells great too!

This will not just fill or mask the problem it will remove it, 80% of clear coat scratches will be eliminated. 

Pros

  • 100% Money back guarantee
  • Easy to follow videos on
  • CarScratcherRemoval channel
  • Support contact with a guaranteed response within 24 hours
  • High-quality professional standard components, clear coat safe
  • Reusable for dozens more scratches
  • Users state step by step videos huge help to first-time users
  • Everything in one box to complete the job

Cons

  • More expensive than individual rubbing compound alone

What is a rubbing compound?

Rubbing compounds are abrasive pastes or liquids used to grind out moderate scratches and scuff marks in your vehicles paintwork. By ‘cutting out’ the paint around the damaged area, the compound can fill the space leaving a nice smooth surface.
The best products don’t just hide a scratch for it to reappear later, they totally remove it.

It is not just suited to topical areas, using the rubbing compound all over your freshly cleaned vehicle creates an even surface primed ready for polishing.

Products are available on the market that combines compounds and polishes, whereas this will reduce your overall work time, the abrasives will be finer and might not remove deeper scratches.

Polish in comparison

Not really the same thing, they work well as a team, but not individually.

Polish mostly just applies a waxy coat to a surface; once it has dried, you can buff it to achieve a high-gloss finish.

The waxy finish makes your paint look pleasing to the eye and will have some protective properties, but it will only mask the lightest of scratches.

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A job for the professionals?

As I said above, combine the polish and rubbing compound and you have a 2-in-1 product that evens out scratches and leaves a glossy shine. The paint job on a car consists of 3 layers; firstly there is the rust protector primer. Then it is the color coat and finally a thin layer of clear lacquer, the ‘clear coat’.

The best rubbing compounds for scratches are suited to scuffs, imperfections, and scratches in the clear coat. The ones that you can barely feel with your fingertip but are infuriating to see each time you look at your vehicle.

If the scratch is particularly deep and penetrates the paint coat, then unless you’re very experienced, I would recommend a trip to a professional body shop for a quote.

Scratches, scrapes, and scuffs that are more superficial are very treatable at home with the right product. Consider using a more abrasive heavy-duty rubbing compound for a deeper, more aggressive scratch.

Also read: Best Swirl Remover for Black Paint

FAQ​​​​

I keep seeing the words ‘cutting paste’, what is it?

Don’t worry; it’s just another name for rubbing compound.
So-called because the abrasive paste appears to ‘cut through’ the layer of paint around the scratch.

Are the chemicals in rubbing compounds harmful to the paintwork on my car?

No. Cars are typically finished with a clear coat that protects the paint beneath.

Don’t over-use them and try to use the lightest abrasive that your scratches require; remember to wipe the excess compound away before buffing. The paint on your car is designed to be resilient and durable.

Do I have to use an orbital polisher to apply rubbing compound?

Not necessarily, most of these compounds are keenly priced with the home-user in mind.

It will certainly be faster but you can apply it by hand by using firm pressure. Use a good quality microfiber towel to rub over it.

Ensure that the towel is clean; you might just add more contaminants to the surface.

The rubbing compound has marked my plastic trim, how do I get it off?

Use an old soft-bristled toothbrush and some warm water. Once it has been re-wet, it should shift with ease.

If the stain is a little more stubborn, use vegetable oil on the toothbrush and gently scrub. This should dislodge it.

In which order should I polish my car?

Begin by washing your car, with fresh water, good shampoo and microfiber mitts or pads.

Rinse it off well and pat it dry with clean dry microfiber towels.
Next is the turn of the rubbing compound, an even coat that is left to dry for a few minutes gives a fabulous surface on which to add your polish.

This is where the gloss builds up, by buffing the polish using microfiber, by hand or machine.

Finally, waxing and sealing your job. You have invested so much time and energy then you may as well finish it off properly. Protect the finish for the coming weeks, against anything the weather has to give.

Are paste compounds better than liquid ones?

There are so many variables, the depth of the scratch, the size of the area, and the abrasive qualities of the rubbing compound, to name a few. Users achieve great success using both.

The micro-abrasives in the product are what determine its strength, closely followed by the amount of work you put into the task.

The Bottom Line

Choosing the best rubbing compound for your scratches is not a straightforward job.

You may prefer one particular brand, the cost may be an issue and the severity of the restoration should be considered.
Maybe you are new to scratch repair and nervous, or have lots of experience and own all the necessary equipment.

Whatever your situation, ensure you have a cool, dry place to do complete your job, preferably indoors.

Above all, invest in the best quality cloths and pads that you can afford, they really will make a noticeable difference. Keeping them clean and fresh will not only give you a better standard finish, it will stop you from making any further marks in your rejuvenated paintwork.

Finally, choosing the best rubbing compound for your scratches from our reviews will not only make your task simpler, but it will also ensure your paintwork is in the best possible condition it can be to be waxed and polished. 

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