How to remove scratches from car

Here at East End Body Shop we have a lot of services that are available to you. One of the services that we offer is auto body painting. But maybe you don’t need a full panel or full body paint job and you just have a few scratches on your car that you would like to see disappear.

There are a few things that you can help you essentially buff out the scratches on your car at home.

If you search for DIY tricks online, the main thing that you will see come up is using WD-40 to get rid of scratches on your car. We don’t recommend doing this DIY at home remedy for scratches on your car, and here’s why. WD-40 looks like it’s working, however, it mainly cleans scratches-on-your-carup the scratches, getting dirt and anything else that was ground into your paint out, it’s not actually repairing the scratch. On top of that, WD-40 can actually damage the wax and clear coat that your paint job has. And more than that, WD-40 is oily, so when it rains or you wash your car, it will wash away. Think of WD-40 sort of like Pledge for wood. It creates a great shine on your wood surfaces, but after a few days your wood looks dull, just like before. That’s essentially what WD-40 is doing. It’s making everything look shiny and new, but it will fade after a few days.

The best thing you can do, if you have scratches on your car, is determine if they are deep enough that they require a new paint job, or if they can be buffered out.

Here’s what you should do if the scratches on your car aren’t too deep to require a new paint job. Get some polishing compound and a drill with a buffing wheel on it. Wash your car first and get the area clean. Then apply some polishing compound onto the buffing wheel and go over the scratches.

This can help with the minor scratches on your car, but we recommend first talking to an auto body shop to determine how deep the scratches on your car are.

Car Paint Layers and How to Identify the Type of Car Scratch

A newly manufactured car typically sports many square yards of exposed steel surfaces. First, a special, neutral coat, known as primer, is applied to the car. After that, a color scheme chosen for that specific car is added – this layer is known as basecoat. Because the basecoat is optimized for beauty rather than durability, a hard, clear coating meant to protect the layer of colorants, the underlying primer and the innermost steel surfaces is added at the very end.

Photo by Alexandra Cavoulacos on Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Photo by Alexandra Cavoulacos on Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By design, this final layer, known as clearcoat, can sustain a certain amount of routine scratching and microscopic wear without suffering much more than aesthetic degradation, but overuse of abrasive polishes can wear away even the strongest material.

Repairing a scratch begins with identifying how deeply it has penetrated these multiple layers. The clear, permanent protective layer is the most critical. Industry experts commonly grade scratches by their depth.

  • Level 1A scratching is the minimum damage to the surface of the clearcoat, and it closely resembles the fogging that much-used eyeglasses accumulate from repeated, unprotected contact with tabletops.
  • Level 1B scratching is a somewhat more severe degree of damage to the clearcoat, possibly resulting from a hardened object such as a bicycle protrusion or metal tool scraping across the surface.
  • Level 2 scratching goes beyond the clearcoat and often damages the basecoat as well, but the primer is still in tact.
  • Level 3 scratching is severe enough to reach the primer layer, but the bare metal itself is still covered.
  • Level 4 scratching is the worst sort of damage, reaching all the way to metal and exposing it to oxygen, moisture, road salt and other corrosive influences. Rust is virtually guaranteed with untreated level 4 scratching.
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Tools and Materials for Fixing Car Scratches

Image courtesy of, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5.

Image courtesy of, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5.

The severity and extent of the scratch to be repaired bears heavily on the tools and materials required. However, the following items will address most coating damage likely to occur under ordinary circumstances. Truly extensive damage demands professional treatment and falls beyond the scope of this guide. In order to fix car scratches, you will need the following tools:

  • Orbital buffer – can also be used for work other than automobile repairs
  • Disposable buffer pads
  • Disposable sanding pads
  • Sheets of 1000-, 1500- and 2000-grit wet-or-dry sandpaper
  • Rubber block – such as a cheap school eraser.
  • Rubbing compound – strongly abrasive
  • Polishing compound – weakly abrasive
  • Automobile waxing treatment – optional but recommended
  • Masking tape
  • Disposable cloths – very clean rags or microfiber shop towels
  • Degreasing solvent
  • Spray bottle
  • Soap – just about any kind of non-abrasive soap or detergent
  • Water – the universal solvent and cleaning agent

Detailing the Coat: Preservation versus Correction

Needless to say, avoiding accumulated coating damage with careful preservation techniques beats fixing what’s been broken by cruder correction techniques. A cautious vehicle owner minimizes gradual fogging and dulling by paying attention to regular smoothing polishes with finishing glazes, which fill in fine scratches and reduce optical distortions from reflected light.

Image courtesy of Wikivisual on, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5.

Image courtesy of Wikivisual on, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.5.

Hand polishing can be a relaxing exercise, but a fair number of car owners prefer to use an inexpensive orbital buffer that finishes the job quickly. Gentler treatments of this sort avoid the erosion of the original factory coatings that results from too forceful polishing with high-speed rotary-buffing machines.

Vintage cars in particular decline substantially in value if they must be entirely repainted after years of rough polishing. Regardless of the collectible value of a car, harsher corrective techniques are best reserved for deep scratches that demand stern measures.

1) Toothpaste

4You Auto Manija Source: 4You Auto Manija

Toothpaste just seems to a miraculous substance, as its abrasive characteristic can help out with a lot of household tasks. Toothpaste with silicone will polish the paint surface and can help reduce the visibility of the scratches. It’s best to use a toothpaste with whitening properties for the best results.

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2) Shoe polish

iFixit Source: iFixit

Who knew shoe polish would be a great method to eliminate scratches? Granted, this will only work best with darker cars, but it’s a great tip worth mentioning nonetheless. It’s recommended that you pick a polish that’s just a tad darker than the current paint color. Wash the car, get some shoe polish on there and you’ll be able to notice the scratch fading away.

3) Nail polish Source:

Speaking of polish, there’s another type of polish that can definitely do wonders! Because you can find nail polish in every color you can possibly imagine, there will definitely be one out there that matches your car’s color. The color of nail polish when it’s completely dried can look a bit different compared to when it’s still in the bottle, so give it a quick test first before you apply it to your car.

4) WD40 Source:

A can of WD40 won’t be able to get rid of severe scratches altogether but does a pretty good at hiding them. Spray a bit of WD40 after you wash your car, and rinse with a clean and dry microfiber cloth.

5) Candle wax Source:

Somewhat surprisingly, candle wax is another great method to remove some of the lighter scratches. It doesn’t actually remove the scratches, but only covers them up. Nonetheless, it’s a great method to polish a damaged area on your car, although this one is less suited as a long-term solution.

6) A decent car scratch removal pen

The Review Gurus Source: The Review Gurus

Now, it’s important to note that many of these scratch removal pens don’t work as advertised and they’re highly controversial to say to say the least. Some pens can even make the scratches worse, but if you do a bit of research and pick out a well-reviewed car scratch removal pen, this might just do the trick. According to Consumer Reports, the Quixxx High-Performance Scratch Remover is a good choice, although you’ll need a few extra minutes to clean the scratches and apply a polishing compound.

7) A paint touch-up kit Source:

One of the best and most effective methods on the list is also used by repair shops and other professionals. A paint touch-up kit does require a bit of effort and time, but it is by far the ideal method. This requires multiple layers of paint which will have to dry, but the end result is ultimately worth it. You can find a detailed tutorial on the process over here.

8) Super Glue

Off The Grid News Source: Off The Grid News

Super glue has the fantastic ability to smooth itself out, which means it can nest into a scratch and reduce its visibility in just seconds. Be careful not to apply too much super glue, because it can be a pain to remove.

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Source: DIYEverywhere, PopularMechanics, TheAutoWarehouse

Shoe Polish

remove scratches with shoe polishResearch online shows that ordinary shoe polish could help with the removal of a deep scratch on your bumper. If you’re brave enough to try it out on your expensive vehicle then here is how it’s done.

Use soap and water to thoroughly clean the area with the scratch. Be sure to wipe it dry after using soap and water to clean the affected area.

For a high-quality soap, we would recommend Spotbot Cleanse.

Now get your hands on some shoe polish but be sure that the color of the polish is darker than your vehicles paint. Spread out the shoe polish over the scratch and it should seep into the scratch.

This helps because you’ll need to use sandpaper to gently remove the scratch.

Sand down the area very carefully not to go deeper than the scratch of your surrounding painted areas.

If you sand too deep you will more than likely cause more damage to your vehicle.

The shoe polish will help guide you while sanding down the area so that you do not go too deep while sanding.

After sanding the area, buff out the area to check your work and to see if the scratch is still visible. If the scratch is way too deep you’ll need to visit a detail shop to correct the issue.

Toothpaste To Remove Scratches On Vehicle

remove scratches with tooth paste

Yep…toothpaste…or at least what they say online..again if you decide to do this method be sure to do your own due diligence before proceeding.

To use toothpaste to remove a scratch on your vehicle simply apply some toothpaste to the area and attempt to buff that area with the toothpaste.

It helps to go in a circular motion why buffing the area. Also be sure to clean the area with soap and water and allow it to dry before applying the toothpaste.

After you have applied the toothpaste and buffed the area, use a soft microfiber cloth to clean the area.

Check your work, if it hasn’t disappeared then reapply. If rinsing and repeating the process doesn’t help. Seek professional help by visiting a professional detail shop.

Nail Polish To Remove Scratches

cover up scratches with nail polish

Sometimes if the scratch is really deep and you refuse to seek professional help by an auto detailing specialist then you can always opt in to cover up the problem by using nail polish as a touch-up paint.

If you decide to try and cover up the problem using nail polish, just be sure to match the color of your vehicle as closely as possible.

Again, this is just to cover up the problem. Think of it like patching a wall…After a wall is patched you can still tell that area was patched up.

So by applying nail polish, you’ll be able to tell that the area is being covered up.

Super Glue To Remove Scratches

use super glue to cover scratches

Using super glue can also help as a home remedy to remove scratches. What it does is actually level the scratch with the surface of the painted area that isn’t affected by scratches.

Just like the other home remedies, this is only a temporary solution.

When you apply the super glue be sure to apply it very thinly onto the scratch. The super glue will blend right in with the surrounding painted surfaces and will cover up that area.

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