How To Fix Car Scratches

How To Fix Car Scratches

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  1. Few things are more disheartening than coming out to your car, parked safely in the grocery store parking lot, and finding a scratch on it.  Fortunately, you can fix car scratches without too much trouble, depending upon the kind of paint used on your car and the depth of the scratch that has damaged your paint job.


    What looks like a scratch actually may be nothing more than rubber from a bumper or paint from another vehicle. If it isn’t actually scratched into the paint, but on the surface only, you can rub this out.  You can use an adhesive remover to help get this off. If it is stubborn and won’t come off easily, put some lacquer thinner or acetone on a soft rag and rub the area.  That should remove it completely.

    Should that not fix the surface scratch take the following steps:

    1. Clean the area with soap and water 

    2. Spread a rubbing compound on the mark, rubbing it in a circular motion. 

    3. Once the scratch is gone, move the cloth back and forth to remove signs of the circular buffing. 

    4. Clean the area with a clean cloth so there is no rubbing compound left.

    5. Clean the area with a polish to remove any remaining fine scratches left by the rubbing compound.

    6. Seal the surface with a high quality car wax.

    Clearcoat Scratches

    If the scratch is deeper it may be a scratch in the clearcoat surface.  Most newer cars have a clearcoat layer that covers the color layer of paint.  This provides a shinier finish and keeps ultraviolet light from fading the color beneath.

    1. Wash with soap and water the scratch area until it is clean, then dry it thoroughly.

    2. Use ultrafine 2000 to 3000 grit wet/dry sandpaper to sand down the scratch. Dip the paper into cold water with a few drops of liquid dish soap to make it more slippery. 

    3. Sand the area using short strokes, moving up and down the length of the scratch. Rinse the paper often to keep it clear of debris.

    4. Once the scratch is gone, dry the area completely and search for any signs of the scratch.

    5. Buff the area with a rubbing compound. Buff it in circular motions.

    6. Clean off with a soft terry cloth

    7. Wash the area again and dry it

    8. Polish the area with a swirl mark eliminator

    5. Seal with a new layer with clear coat or wax

    Deeper Car Scratches

    You may need to fix car scratches that go all the way to the metal below.  In this case you can take the following steps to repair the damaged area:

    1. Determine if the car’s paint is enamel or not.  If it is not enamel, continue with the following steps

    2. Thoroughly wash the area where the scratch is located.  Use a mild dish soap.

    3. Sand along the scratch and around the edges.  Use ultrafine sandpaper and be sure to get out any and all rust that may have formed in and around the scratch.

    4. Clean out the debris left from the sanding.

    5. Gently buff the area around the scratch and try to remove any light scratches around the serious damage.

    6. Using your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) contact an auto parts store, or search online for the exact color of paint used on your car. Your VIN number should contain all information about your car including the exact color used to paint it.

    7. Using paper and tape isolate the area on your car where the scratch is so that you will only be painting the scratch area and a small area around it with the new paint.

    8. Apply the new paint to the scratch.  Spray paint a little at a time until adequately covered.

    9. After the area has dried completely, follow the steps above for restoring a buffed, waxed surface.

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