How to remove scratches from a car – step by step
When removing scratches from car bodywork, it’s important to follow these steps.
- Assess the depth of the damage. There are four main layers of material on a car chassis – clearcoat, paint colour, primer and steel – and you need to know how deep your scratches have gone. You can tell if you’re dealing with a scratch that’s as deep as the primer if it is a different colour from the paint. Scratches that go as deep as the primer and steel are more difficult to fix than surface scratches. If you want to know how to remove deep scratches from a car, you may need to go to a car repair shop.
- Clean the scratch. Dirt and grit can scratch the surface even further, so clean and dry the scratched area thoroughly before you do anything else. This is one of the most important steps in learning how to remove a scratch from car paintwork – skip it, and you could do more damage!
- Use sandpaper to level the scratch. Smooth down the damaged area by lightly rubbing the scratch with 2000-grit sand paper in the direction of the scratch. When you’re done, wipe the surface you’ve been working on with a good quality microfibre cloth and check the area is level with the bottom of the scratch. During this step, you must be careful not to sand down further than the clearcoat. If you’re looking to find out how to remove a deep scratch from cars, where it penetrates further than the clearcoat, then you may need to consult a specialist repair shop.
- Apply the compound. Use a microfibre cloth to apply rubbing compound to the scratch. Always make sure you check the manufacturer’s guidelines to see what products are suitable to use on the surface of your car.
- Buff the area. Dry and polish the compound by setting your buffer to its lowest level and quickly moving it around the damaged area. Be careful not to buff one spot for more than a second as this can damage the car’s paint layers. For more tips on how to polish a car without damaging its surface, read our guide to waxing and polishing a car.
- Remove the compound. Wipe the remaining compound from the area immediately after polishing the scratched area with a quality microfibre cloth.
- Apply wax. Seal the area you have repaired by applying a wax that suits the colour of your car – you can either do this manually, with a microfiber cloth, or with the help of a machine such as a random orbital polisher. Wash and wipe the area once more with a microfiber cloth and inspect the scratch to make sure it has disappeared.
After following these steps, you should find scratches and marks on your car are considerably reduced – if not removed entirely. After teaching yourself how to remove scratches from car paintwork, you may also want to read up on how to wash and polish your car, and specific areas like the wheels, to help you keep it looking its best.