How to Remove a Car Scratch Without Damaging Your Auto Paint

A car scratch.
  • 1-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 10-30
What You'll Need
Buffing machine
Rubbing alcohol
Car paint
Clear top coat lacquer
Paint sprayer
Rubbing compound
Car washing compound

When you discover a car scratch, the last thing you want to do is cause further damage to the paintwork in the process of removing it. By following a few steps, you can be assured of a good result by properly completing the scratch removal process.

Step 1 - Examine Scratch

The first thing that you must do is examine the scratch to determine the type and severity of it. What may initially seem like a scratch to the paintwork may actually be a mark on the surface that has been caused by items such as shopping carts or bollards. Alternatively, the paintwork may have a scratch embedded in it that has been caused by a sharp implement. In this case, run your fingernail over the scratch to assess how deep it is.

Step 2 - Clean

Start by cleaning the area that has been affected by the scratch. This is necessary to ensure that you remove any particles on the surface that may otherwise cause damage. If there is any loose debris on the surface, lightly brush it away with a soft cloth or brush. You will then be able to use a soft cloth saturated with soapy water to clean the relevant area. Follow this by rinsing with clean water and wiping it with a dry cloth. You will then be in a position to fix the car scratch.

Step 3 - Deal with Raised Marks

A car scratch that has been formed due to paint transfer rather than from a notch within the surface of the paint can be cleaned away with certain compounds that can usually be found in hardware stores. Dampen a cloth with a little rubbing alcohol or adhesive remover and use this to rub the mark with a circular motion, keeping an eye on the status of the mark as you work. Once the mark has disappeared, follow the same process with a water-dampened cloth.

Step 4 - Apply Laquer to Scratches

If you can still see the color of the car within the scratch, it means that only the top clear coat has been damaged. Resolve this by applying some car lacquer to the scratch to renew the seal. A rubbing compound will then be able to be applied after this process to bring the lacquer to the same level as the area surrounding it. Deeper scratches that reveal the white of the base coat or the metal will require a little more effort to rectify it.

Car paint of the same color will need to be applied to the scratch first and this will produce a finer result if applied with a sprayer. Use a rubbing compound to level out the paint before applying wax or lacquer to seal it in place. A buffing machine can be used in place of the rubbing compound to improve the finish of the car scratch repair site.