Common ways to remove scratches from car paint

By Kijiji Autos
How to polish scratches out of your car

Maria - stock.adobe.com

So, you discovered a scratch on your car. Now what? While the internet may recommend using toothpaste to polish scratches out of car paint, choose a product designed specifically for scratch removal. Here are some tips on identifying scratches, picking and using a car scratch remover for your needs and when to leave it to the experts.

How to identify types of scratches

The first step in car scratch repair is to determine what kind of scratch you're dealing with. Most cars these days have three layers of paint: primer, paint and a high gloss clear coat. Surface scratches in the protective clear coat are the easiest to fix at home, while deep scratches may require professional help.

Experts say the best way to identify the type of scratch is by running your fingernail over it. If you can't feel it, it's likely a surface scratch in the clear coat that can be fixed at home. If you can feel the scratch but your fingernail doesn't get caught, then a good polish for car scratches will usually do the trick. Deeper scratches that your fingernail gets caught in or that you can see primer or metal through might require a more involved repair process.

Ways to pick a car scratch remover

Hardware and auto supply stores are stocked with a variety of scratch removal kits and polish for car scratches. It can be confusing to know which to pick. For minor scratches, a good quality polish could be enough. These products are typically applied by hand to safely remove scratches and swirl marks from the clear coat of your car. For larger scratches, you might want to go with a scratch removal kit. Kits typically include sandpaper or buffing pads to help you erase scratches. Some even include pads you can attach to a drill to speed up the buffing process. Always ask a sales associate for a recommendation on the type of scratches your vehicle has.

How to help polish scratches out of car

  • If you've identified that you have a surface scratch that you want to fix yourself, the next step is to prepare the scratched area.
  • Thoroughly wash and dry the area you plan to polish, making sure to remove any dirt or debris. If there's leftover dirt, you could run the risk of doing more damage to your car's paint.
  • Next, read the instructions on your polish or scratch removal kit.
  • Apply a small amount of product to a clean microfibre cloth or buffing pad, cleaning in a circular motion then wiping off any excess polish. Make sure to use a light touch to avoid damaging the clear coat.
  • Protect the newly polished area with high-quality car wax.

When to call in the experts

While most of us want to avoid a pricy trip to the auto body shop, sometimes it's necessary for the health of your car. Deep scratches that go down to the metal could easily rust and should be dealt with promptly. Also, if you have a car with matte paint, polishing scratches might leave shiny patches on your car's exterior. To preserve the unique matte finish, it's probably best to call the dealership or a car paint expert.

Find more useful car maintenance tips in our resources. Ready for a fresh start? Kijii Autos offers a huge selection of new and used cars for sale in your area and across Canada. Use our Online Financing listings to find and finance your next vehicle.

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