How to Remove Car Scratches Yourself

by Bobby Gruner - Posted 2 years ago

Nobody likes finding a scratch on their vehicle. Whether caused by a tree branch, bicycle handle, or shopping cart, scratches are ugly. They are also expensive to repair and can cause rust problems if left untreated!

Continue reading to learn how to remove car scratches yourself!

How to Remove Minor Automobile Scratches

You’ll need two main things when fixing most paint scratches, the exact paint match and the clear coat layer that goes on top. If the scratch hasn’t gone through the primer, you can skip the touch-up paint step.

 

If the scratch is a bit deeper, you’ll need a clear coat pen, sanding pad, polishing compound and some car wax. All of this can be purchased together in kits like the Turtle Wax Kit.  

Look for Your Factory Paint Code

If your scratch is only a clear coat scratch, then you don’t have to worry about finding your matching paint. Deeper scratches, however, require the additional application of new primer and paint.

To help you find the right paint touch-up product, look for the factory-paint code on the sticker in the driver side doorsill or on a plaque under the hood. If you are unable to find the exact color match at the auto parts store or online, take the car to your auto dealer.

Wash and Dry the Car

First, make sure the surface of your vehicle is cleaned with soap and water. Once you’ve dried the area completely with a clean cloth, finish cleaning with a few gentle wipes of a rag and denatured alcohol. Allow the area to dry completely.

Mark Off Area with Blue Painter’s Tape

It’s a good idea to mark the scratch off with some blue painter’s tape, especially if it’s close to any trim or plastic.

If you are applying touch-up paint, mark off the area as close as you can. This will help keep the primer and paint from spreading.

If you only need to add a small amount of paint and you have some experience in car care, you may be able to repair it yourself. If you have any doubts, bring it into a professional detailer.

Steps for touching up paint:

  • After the area is clean and dry, apply a very small amount of primer into the scratch or chip with a very fine brush. Allow the primer to dry. Wait a day to be sure.
  • Next, put a small amount of paint over the primed area (make sure the auto paint color is an exact match!). Practice on some paper or metal before applying to your car. You want to get the technique down first. 
  • Wait at least one hour to apply a second coat of paint, if necessary. After adding the paint, remove the blue painter’s tape and allow the paint to dry. We recommend letting it dry and cure for a day or two before moving on to the next steps.


Prime Clear Coat Pen

If you don’t need to add any primer or paint, you’ll want to skip those steps and jump to this one. First, prime the clear coat pen by pressing it against a piece of paper or metal to get it flowing. Then, fill the scratch in completely with the clear coat pen using gentle dabs and wipes. Wait for it to dry. You may want to wait overnight, especially if it is a wider or deeper scratch.

Sand the Surface with Proper Pad

This is the step to watch out for.

The problem for most users is that they use too much pressure, fail to lubricate the area first, or use the wrong sanding pad. Ensure the pads and the surface are lubricated with Spray Lubricator. Otherwise, you can cause even more scratches. You should never dry sand the affected area, only wet sand with Spray Lubricant.

Take your time, follow instructions exactly, and use the proper level grit pad. Be very careful with the amount of pressure you use.

  1. Mark off the scratch, one inch above and one inch below, with blue painter’s tape.
  2. Lubricate the surface with the Spray Lubricator. Spray directly on the area.
  3. Lubricate the sanding pad by spraying the lubricator directly on the pad.
  4. Gently wet wipe the pad in the direction of the scratch.
  5. Next, lubricate the surface and the next pad that’s less abrasive. Make sure they are all fully lubricated and use very gentle wipes in the direction of the scratch.

We cannot stress this enough—be extremely careful with the pressure you use when using the sanding pads. Very light rubbing is all that is necessary.

To remove the hazy area created when blending in the touch-up paint with the pads, move on to the next step.

Use Polishing Compound

Remove the blue painter’s tape. To restore the gloss to the affected area, apply a Polishing Compound to a corner of your microfiber cloth and buff the scratch in the opposite direction of the scratch/sanding wipes.

For this step, you can use pressure. Use two or three fingers behind your microfiber cloth and firmly wipe the area in perpendicular strokes to the scratch/sand marks. You may have to wipe for over a minute or two.

After around 40 strokes, wipe the area with a clean, dry cloth. Inspect your work and repeat the process if you still see sand marks. On the reapplication of the polishing compound, you can use circular motions to help blend everything in.

Apply a Coat of Wax

If you had any wax on the car, this process will have removed it. Apply a coat of wax to the area you worked on so it shines like the rest of the car.

And you’re done!

Fixing auto scratches yourself all depends on the length and depth of the scratch. If you have any major scratches, take your vehicle into a professional!

 

Have any more tips for removing scratches? Drop them in the comments below!