How to Remove Scratches from Car

Given how often we have to negotiate difficult roads, terrible drivers and even flying debris while on the asphalt, it is a miracle that we don’t end up with mazes of scratches on our cars. Get even a minor one though, and you would probably find yourself wondering how much it would cost to fix at the nearest repair station. Chances are, it would probably cost a lot more than if you learnt how to remove car scratches and did the heavy lifting yourself. Before you start buying the stuff you would require for fixing the scratch, you would do well to figure out how deep the scratch is. To this end, we have not only provided the simplest methods to fix scratches, but have grouped them according to the depth of the scratch involved.


What Is Your Paint Coat Made Of ?

Before we begin studying how to fix the paint coat, we need to know what the coat is made of. Most of the paint jobs done in the factory involve applying a layer of enamel that contains special chemicals that allow it to dry out in hours. On top of this enamel is a layer of clear coating, which protects your paint from being ripped away by even minor scratches. This protective film is very thin and can easily be removed if one rubs the surface of the car too much. Hence, it is important that unless you are going for the actual paint layer, you do not end up sanding off this protective cover.

Based on this, mechanics tend to compare scratches to wounds on the skin. The three levels would be –

  1. Surface scratches – Like a scratch that does not penetrate the lower levels of the dermis, surface scratches simply take off a little of the clear coat and accompanying wax and dirt, without penetrating the lower levels.
  2. Clear coat scratch – This scratch removes the clear coating completely, exposing the paint but not removing it. Hence, you will need to reapply the clear coat unless you wish the paint to disappear rapidly from the area.
  3. Paint damage – The worst damage is when all layers have been penetrated and a long sliver of your car exterior has been restored to its aluminum/steel color. If this is the case, you’d have to apply both the paint and the clear coat. This can be tricky since while clear coating is readily available, matching the paint would be difficult.

If you have to replace the paint, you would have to –

  1. Your car manual or labels under the hood would contain a listing of the colors used. Most of these are numbered industrial color schemes and you should inquire from the manufacturer if they offer any solutions that don’t involve spending a fortune. Since they will likely request a costly checkup and repair at their nearest repair station, you should probably skip the manufacturer’s suggestion and move to the next step.
  2. Look for the color in the local store or online at sites like Amazon.
  3. Request specialized services dealing in car paints to mix you the right batch. This is ideal if you have colors that are somewhat rare.
  4. If you have obtained a custom paint job or otherwise chosen a difficult to obtain color (or your car is very old), looking for a spare part like a door or bumper is the only option. This is extremely costly and you’d do well to survive a little discoloration through use of the closest matching color than rip off your pockets.

Surface scratches (No paint or clear coating lost)


The simplest scratches are those that simply take away a bit of the sheen from the surface of the car, damaging neither the clear coat that protects the actual paint coat/s. In this case, you don’t need to worry about the nature of the paint coat at all. To do this –

  1. Buy some compound from the local car repair store. If you’re not sure which car repair compound to use, you can consult the local repairman.
  2. Apply the compound on a sponge or fiber cloth.
  • Rub away any dirt or wax from the area you wish to remove scratches from, using a clean piece of cloth.
  1. Rub the compound in concentric circles onto the scratch. This would involve some amount of overlap with areas that don’t need the compound. If you wish to avoid this, you can mask the surrounding area.
  2. Wipe away the compound after rubbing it for 10-20 times. Repeat as many times as necessary until the scratch is completely “healed”.

Clear Coat Scratches


To fix the clear coat, you would need to –

  1. You would need to buy some clear coating spray, which is pretty standard and can be obtained as a spray bottle in pretty much any repair store or well-stocked gas station.
  2. Clean the area of grime and wax.
  • Cut a small hole in a piece of plastic or paper and hold it inches from the surface that you wish to repair.
  1. Spray the clear coating onto the car in this fashion. Once you’ve covered a small part of the scratch, move to the next area.
  2. Once done, wipe away excess coating carefully.
  3. Once it is completely dry and settled, apply a layer of compound using the method outlined in the previous section.

Paint Damage

Paint Damage

To fix paint damage, you would need to obtain matching paint following the steps we provided above. It should ideally be in the form of a tube and not a spray can since using a spray can would lead to a lot more overlap and unlike primer and compound, paint cannot be easily removed.

To apply paint on the scratch, you would need to –

  1. Remove any dirt or grime from the surface using sanding paper. This would also remove any clear coat in the immediate vicinity. Don’t worry since you would have to apply the clear coat anyway once the paint job is complete.
  2. Place your paint tube at the top of the scratch and carefully trace the scratch with the tube.
  • Wait for at least 10-12 hours.
  1. Remove any excess paint from the scratch. Depending on how well you have managed to cover the scratch, you may or may not need to repeat this process.
  2. If you don’t need to, you can simply take the clear coating can and apply the clear coat as explained above.
  3. Finally, apply one or more layers of compound to achieve the shine that the scratch had taken away.


While we have tried to explain car scratch repair in the simplest of ways, it has to be conceded that it is not something the carmaker expects the average owner to carry out. Hence, you may have trouble coming up with materials like paints, etc. While there is no clear solution for unavailable parts, you can always consider whether you would not be able to make do with the closest matching color.

Whichever color you choose though, remember that the colors and solvents used are highly toxic and should be handled using gloves and a face mask (or goggles) and repair must be carried out in a clearly ventilated space that has no sources of fire near it. With these safety precautions in mind and our guide at hand, you should be able to restore your car exterior to its former glory no matter how serious the scratch or scratches involved.

Want to remove deep scratches? Go to here! If you have any question, please comment below, we’ll help!

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