Remove Scratches from Car

Scratches in car paint can be caused by a variety of things. Car accidents, juvenile behavior, poor parking, and other parking lot mishaps are all common causes for a scratch or two on your perfect paint job. While scratches do detract from the appearance of your car, paying a body shop for a new coat of paint or even a small touch-up can be costly. Use these steps to remove small scratches without the cost of hiring a professional.kjljljljkljljl


Assessing the Damage

  1. Determine if the scratch is actually a scratch and not just something on the surface of the paint. Look at the area close up and inspect whether you have a scratch or just debris on your car.
    • Sometimes what appears to be a scratch is actually a raised line of material from an impact. This occurs when your car contacts another bumper or any object whose coating is softer than your car paint. These imperfections require much less work to remove.
  2. Establish the depth of the scratch. After you have actually determined that you do have some scratches that need repair, you need to figure out how deep the scratch is. This will determine how you approach repairs. Scratches to the clear coat can be easily fixed by following these steps.
    • Your car has 4 main layers: clear coat, color, primer and steel. If the scratch is only as deep as the clear coat or color, it will be much easier to remove. If you can see a different color or steel, the scratch is deep and might be more difficult to repair at home.
  3. Look for other areas to repair at the same time. While you may have one scratch that is bothering you enough to start a repair project, it's a good idea to look for any other areas that could be repaired at the same time. If you already have the tools and materials to do the job, why not do it all the way!

Preparing the Area for Repair

  1. Wash and dry the car thoroughly. If your car is dirty during scratch repair, that dirt could cause more scratches to be created.
    • Pay particular attention to the area you will be repairing. Spray the scratched area with water, making sure to get any debris out of the scratch.
  2. Sand the scratch lightly. Wrap 2000-grit wet/dry sandpaper around a sanding pad and begin sanding.[1] The goal is to sand just through the clear coat and no further.
    • Always sand in the direction of the scratch.You do not want to create opposing scratches, which will only create more ridges and valleys in the paint that need to be repaired.
    • Periodically rinse the area with water. This will allow you to better see if you have gotten to the bottom of the scratch.
    • If the scratch is slightly deeper than the clear coat, use 1500-grit sandpaper initially to level the surface and then 2000-grit sandpaper to remove the scratches made by the coarser sandpaper.
    • Avoid getting dirt or debris between the sandpaper and the vehicle. This will cause scratching.
  3. Rinse the area, making sure that it is clean and dry. Use good quality and clean microfiber cloths to wipe dry the surface. Remember that using old rags could simply cause more scratches on the surface of your car!

Repairing the Paint Surface

  1. Apply rubbing compound to the scratched areas. Do not turn on the buffer quite yet, but use a buffer pad to spread the compound around the area that is dull from sanding.
    • Rubbing compound is an abrasive that takes off a bit more of the paint surface but it also smoothes out the paint surface, getting it ready to be waxed. Basically the rubbing compound is used to take out the scratches from the sandpaper.[1]
  2. Polish the area with the rubbing compound. Turn the buffer on its lowest level and move it around for approximately 10 seconds. You need to polish the rubbing compound relatively quickly, so that it does not dry before being smoothed out.[2]
    • Increase the speed to 2000 RPM and buff for one minute. You should be moving the buffer from side to side and then moving downward slowly.
    • Continue until the dullness has faded but make sure not to go through the paint layer. This might take up to five minutes depending on the scratch and your speed and pressure.
    • Do not buff in the same spot for more than a second. You will scratch into the next layer if you buff in the same spot too long.
  3. Wash the area once again. Use clean water and a towel to remove the leftover compound residue from the paint surface. If the compound got in any crevices, use a toothbrush to clean it out.[3]
    • Always wipe off the leftover rubbing compound immediately after buffing. The residue will adhere to the paint and be more difficult to remove otherwise.
  4. Wax the area to seal the paint you have repaired. Apply a good quality carnauba wax to the surface and then buff the surface with a random orbital buffer.
    • If you wax your car regularly, use your usual method. If you have never done it before, consult How to Wax You Car for suggestions on how to do it.
  5. Finish by washing the area one more time. Make sure all of the scratches are gone and that the repaired area is super shiny and repels water easily.


  • Use your toothpaste! Take a little amount of toothpaste on a wet cloth and rub it on the scratch.
  • Even if one end of a scratch is shallow, the middle or opposite end might be much deeper. Survey the entire scratch before deciding how to best remove it.
  • Removing raised marks can be accomplished by scrubbing the area with a soapy rag. If that doesn't work, try an adhesive remover.


  • If the scratches in your car's paint are particularly deep or excessive, you may want to consider actually going to a body shop to get them repaired. Auto body shops have the professional set up and know-how to give your car a beautiful, shiny new surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Buffer pads
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Buffer
  • Soap
  • 1500- and 2000-grit sandpaper
  • Sanding pad
  • Rubbing compound
  • Rags
  • Car wax

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