How to Remove Scratches from a Car


Scratches in car paint can be caused by a variety of things. Car accidents, vandalism, poor parking, and other parking lot mishaps are all common causes for a scratch or 2 on your perfect paint job. While scratches do detract from the appearance of your car, paying a body shop for a new coat of paint or even a small touch-up can be costly. You can try buffing out surface scratches with toothpaste, using a scratch removal product for small scratches, or sanding and repainting the area if the scratch is deep.

Part 1
Using Toothpaste for Surface Scratches

Using Toothpaste for Surface Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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If your fingernail does not catch on the scratches, then they are on the surface and using toothpaste might be a good option. If your fingernail does catch on them, then they are deeper and you will need to use a professional scratch removal product.[1]

Using Toothpaste for Surface Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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Before you apply toothpaste to the scratches, make sure that the area is very clean. Rubbing dirt and debris into the scratched area will make the scratches worse.[2] You can take your car to a car wash or wash it yourself. To wash your car yourself, spray it with a hose to wet it all over and remove the majority of the dirt and debris. Then, use a large sponge or car-washing brush to apply soap formulated for vehicles to your car. Work the soap into all surface of your car and then use the hose to spray it off. Dry your car with a clean, dry towel.

Using Toothpaste for Surface Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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Get the microfiber towel wet enough so that it is just damp. Then, apply a quarter-sized amount of the toothpaste to the towel, or a little more or less depending on the size of the scratch.[3] Whitening toothpaste works best, but you can try removing the scratches with any toothpaste you have on hand. You will need to apply the toothpaste with a soft, clean, microfiber towel to ensure that rubbing in the toothpaste does not cause more damage.

Using Toothpaste for Surface Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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Push down on the microfiber cloth and move it in small circles to buff out the scratches. Do this until the toothpaste is well-distributed on the surface.[4] You will need to apply some pressure as you apply the toothpaste, but not too much.

Using Toothpaste for Surface Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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After you finish buffing out the scratches, rinse the area thoroughly to remove the excess toothpaste. Spray your car with a hose and then dry the area with a microfiber towel.[5] You can also wipe away the excess toothpaste with a wet microfiber towel.

Using Toothpaste for Surface Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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You may need to do more than 1 application to get rid of surface scratches using toothpaste. Check the area to see if the scratches are still visible and then repeat the process 1 or 2 more times if needed. Make sure that you do not do more than 3 applications or you may damage the clear coat of the car’s paint.

Part 2
Using a Scratch Removal Product for Small Scratches

Using a Scratch Removal Product for Small Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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It is important to make sure that the area is completely clean before you apply any product to it or try to buff the area. Any dirt or debris left on the surface when you buff it will result in more scratches.[6] Spray your car with a hose before applying any soap to it. Then, use a sponge or brush meant for washing cars to work the soap in. Rinse the soap off completely and dry your car with microfiber towels. Be sure to use soap designed for washing cars.

Using a Scratch Removal Product for Small Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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You can buy scratch-removal products at auto supply stores or in the auto supply section of large one-stop stores. These products are often sold as a scratch-removal kit that includes the scratch-removal solution and a buffing pad to apply the product.[7] If you are unsure about what types of scratch removal product to buy, ask a sales associate for help. Employees who work in auto supply stores are usually knowledgeable about these products. A microfiber towel is often a good choice for applying scratch removal products since they are gentle on the surface of your car. Some products even come with a mechanical buffing tool that you can use to get rid of the scratches.

Using a Scratch Removal Product for Small Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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You may need a little more or less depending on the size of the scratched area. Squirt the product onto the buffing pad or microfiber cloth, and then fold it in half to work the product around the surface of the pad or cloth.[8] Make sure that the product is evenly distributed on the cloth or pad before you begin.

Using a Scratch Removal Product for Small Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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You can work the product in using a circular motion or a back and forth motion. Do what is most comfortable for you and what covers the scratched area best, but do not switch directions! Only go back and forth or in circles. Continue to work in the product for a few minutes so that it is well distributed.[9] Make sure to apply light to medium pressure as you work in the product.

Using a Scratch Removal Product for Small Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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After you have finished buffing the scratched area, use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe away the excess product. Buff the surface of the car where you applied the product using a circular motion.[10] Do not allow the excess product to dry on the surface of your car. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to be sure about how to remove the excess product.

Using a Scratch Removal Product for Small Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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Check the area to see if the scratches are still visible. If they are, then you can repeat the product application 2 to 3 times. Just be careful not to do this too many times or you may damage the clear coat on your car. Check the manufacturer’s instructions before proceeding with another application.

Part 3
Painting to Fix Deep Scratches

Painting to Fix Deep Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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If your car is dirty during scratch repair, that dirt could create more scratches. Wash your car thoroughly to remove all of the dirt and debris. You may want to rinse the scratched area a couple of extra time to be certain that it is clean. Pay particular attention to the area you will be repairing. Spray the scratched area with water, making sure to get any debris out of the scratch. Then, clean the area well with soap formulated for use on cars and rinse it all away with clean water.

Painting to Fix Deep Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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Wrap 2000-grit wet/dry sandpaper around a sanding pad (a holder for the sandpaper with a handle on it) and begin sanding the scratched area.[11] Sand for 10 to 15 seconds at a time and then check the area to see if you need to sand deeper. Always sand in the direction of the scratch. You do not want to create opposing scratches, which will only add more ridges and valleys in the paint that need to be repaired. Rinse the area with water as needed to check your progress. This will allow you to better see if you have gotten to the bottom of the scratch. If the scratch is slightly deeper than the clear coat, use 1500-grit sandpaper to level the surface and then 2000-grit sandpaper to remove the scratches made by the coarser sandpaper. Avoid getting dirt or debris between the sandpaper and the vehicle. This will cause scratching.

Painting to Fix Deep Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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Rinse away the debris left by sanding the scratched area. Then, use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe the surface dry. Avoid using old or dirty rags since these could cause more scratches on the surface of your car.

Painting to Fix Deep Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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Get some sandable primer in an aerosol can. Spray the primer onto the area you have just sanded. Use a back and forth motion to spray on the paint. Then, wait 5 to 10 minutes for the primer to dry and spray on another layer. Do this a total of 3 times.[12] Choose a primer that is close to the color of your car’s paint, if possible. It will not be an exact match, but your paint will be.

Painting to Fix Deep Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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Next, spray on the same color paint as is on the rest of your car to the area where you applied the primer. Wait 5 to 10 minutes between each application so that the paint dries completely.[13] To ensure that the paint will match, check with your car’s manufacturer to get the same shade of paint. You may be able to purchase the paint from an auto supply store, or you may have to special order the paint from your car’s manufacturer.

Painting to Fix Deep Scratches on How to Remove Scratches from a Car

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Apply a high-quality carnauba wax to the surface of your car and then buff the area with a buffer pad or microfiber cloth. You can purchase a waxing kit that includes everything you need to wax your car, such as the wax and a buffing pad or microfiber cloth.[14] Apply a quarter-size amount of wax to the buffing pad or cloth to start and add more if needed. Use circular motions and press down on the pad or cloth with medium pressure. Keep going until the wax is evenly distributed and the car’s surface looks shiny.