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What can you do for scratches on your car?

How to Successfully Buff Out Scratches on a Car

If you’re reading this, the chances are that the unthinkable has happened, and you’ve got a scratch on your car. Regardless of the age of your vehicle, a scratch is frustrating, unsightly, and houses the potential for long-term damage. So, your car has a scratch (or two). Now what?

Depending on the depth and severity of the scratch, you can go a few different routes to remove it. In this guide, we’ll detail—pun intended—how you can buff out scratches on your car and restore it to its original shine.

Why Buff Out Scratches on Your Car?

To understand how to remove scratches from your car, you’ve got to understand the anatomy of your vehicle’s paint job and why taking care of scratches is so important.

Your car’s paint is three layers: primer, base paint, and topcoat. Any time your car gets scratched, the paint is compromised. As scratches go deeper into each layer of paint, dirt, water, and other elements make their way into the crevice and can cause serious long-term damage.

If a scratch goes deep enough to break through the primer and hit the metal car body, it’s only a matter of time util rust develops. By then, you have an entirely new and quite costly problem on your hands. Once rust forms, it’s difficult to stop the progress and remove it. You’ll almost certainly need professional help, and what was once simply a scratch with an easy fix has become a serious issue.

Even the slightest scratch that only disrupts the top clear coat will severely devalue your car. And of course, the deeper the scratch, the more it lowers the value of your vehicle, especially if you ever decide to sell it. Buffing out these paint scratches will help your car retain not only it’s aesthetic value but its dollar value as well.

How to Determine the Severity of the Scratch

All scratches are not created equal, but you should address them all and buff them out until they no longer exist. Determining the severity of a scratch on your car is simple. And you already have the tool you need to do the job.

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When evaluating the scratch on your car, simply run your fingernail along the paintwork. As you drag you nail over the scratch, feel its depth. If it’s thinner than a sheet of paper or if your nail doesn’t catch the scratch at all, your clear coat is likely the only layer of paint that’s been damaged.

However, if the scratch is thicker than a sheet of paper or if your nail catches it, the scratch runs deeper than the clear coat, and you’ll need to address the scratch accordingly.

How to Remove Light Scratches from Your Car

Taking care of light swirls or scratches on your car’s surface is easy and affordable. Sometimes an automatic car wash can leave light marks on your vehicle. Even fingernails can scratch the surface around door handles. You can easily remove these surface-level blemishes with a little time, a little elbow grease, and a scratch remover product. The process is simple:

  1. Wash and dry the car.
  2. Apply the scratch remover to a microfiber towel. Spread the product over a 2-foot by 2-foot square.
  3. Apply firm pressure and rub the area for about 60 seconds, then let it dry to a haze.
  4. Remove the dried product with a microfiber towel.
  5. Repeat the process until the affected area is buffed clean.

A scratch remover product allows for a one-time application to remove light swirls and scratches. It works by both cleansing and polishing, taking care of light marks on your car’s paint. These products will easily take care of scratches on your vehicle.

How to Remove Deep Scratches from Your Car

In some cases, you’ll have a scratch so deep that it’s surpassed the clear coat into the base paint. Tackling these deeper scratches takes a little effort, but if you’re willing to put in the time and energy, you can save yourself a trip to the body shop and buff out the scratches right at home. When you conduct the fingernail test on your car’s coat and your nail catches, you can use the method we’ll outline here to take care of it.

  1. Wash your car and dry thoroughly.
  2. Using 2,000 grit sandpaper, sand the scratched area until you come to your car’s metal panel. Sand with the scratch in one direction. This step might make you feel uneasy, but trust us, this will help you buff out those deep scratches!
  3. Tape off the sanded area, then apply automotive primer using a paint sprayer.
  4. Once the primer is dry, paint over it using your car’s matching paint. You can find your car’s paint code inside the driver’s door, or you can call your dealer for help to ensure you correctly match the color.
  5. Once the paint has cured, polish the repaired area with a polishing compound until it matches the shade of the rest of your car.
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This method of buffing out scratches is perfect for new scratches that have yet to rust. If a scratch has dug into your car’s metal body, or if rust has set in, you will want to bring your vehicle into the shop. At that point, if the repair isn’t done perfectly, you risk the spread of rust and further damage to your car.


In most cases of light to moderately-deep scratches, you can buff them out right at home. However, if a scratch has made its way to the primer level or even to the bare metal of your car, a professional should address it as soon as possible. Otherwise, you can fix the issue with a little time and effort. With this guide, you have all the information you need to buff out those scratches on your car, making it look as good as new.

How to remove scratches from a car

Your car is one of the biggest investments you’ll make. Keeping it in good condition will help to retain more of its value, so that you can achieve a favourable price when the time comes to sell your car.

Unfortunately, no matter how carefully you drive, after a number of years on the road, some wear and tear is inevitable. There’s also good chance that you’ll eventually amass a scratch or two on the bodywork, which can affect what your car is worth.

This can be disheartening – especially if you have been taking special care to preserve your car’s showroom looks. Luckily, there are several simple methods to rectify pesky scratches and keep your car looking its best.

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In this article, we’ll cover what to do when you notice a scratch – and provide you with a step-by-guide to help you restore your paintwork to its former glory. We’ll also look at the best tools and equipment for tackling stubborn scratches – and your options for getting scratches removed professionally.

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My car has been scratched – what should I do?

After noticing a scratch on your car, your first step should be to assess the damage and determine just how deep the scratch is. The depth and severity of the scratch will indicate whether the damage can be repaired without the help of a professional.

To get an idea of how deep the scratch is, gently run your fingernail across it. If it doesn’t catch, the scratch is most likely superficial — and you should be able to fix it relatively easily at home. However, if it does catch, you should seek the help of a trusted scratch removal specialist to avoid risking any further damage to your car’s paintwork.

Using the right repair product (or service) will help ensure that you achieve the desired results – and maximise your car’s valuation, if you are repairing the scratches with a view to selling it.

Can I remove car scratches myself?

Yes, providing the scratch is not too deep.

When looking at how to remove scratches from a car, it’s important to choose the right tools and products for the job. There are several methods for removing superficial scratches — with some being easier than others. If you select the right products and work carefully, there’s no reason why you can’t fix a minor scratch to a high standard, without having to hire a professional.

How to remove scratches from a car (step-by-step)

By following our car paint scratch removal guide, you should be able to repair superficial or minor car scratches at home using only toothpaste and a microfibre cloth.

  • Start with a clean, dry car. If you catch any dirt or debris whilst repairing the scratch, you could risk making the damage worse.
  • Take a damp microfibre cloth and apply a small amount of toothpaste (around the same size as a 2p coin). For the best results, we would recommend using whitening toothpaste, but any toothpaste should work fine.
  • In small, circular motions, rub the toothpaste into the scratch. You don’t need to apply too much pressure – just enough to distribute the toothpaste evenly across the scratched area.
  • After applying the toothpaste for a couple of minutes, thoroughly rinse the area with soapy water, ensuring there is no toothpaste left behind. Dry the area with a microfibre cloth.
  • If the scratch is still visible, you may repeat the process, ensuring you rinse and dry the area thoroughly between applications. If the scratch still remains, you may need to have the damage repaired professionally.
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What is a good car scratch remover?

Although toothpaste can work well for minor scratches, there are dedicated car paint scratch removal products on the market that are more suitable for slightly deeper marks. These include scratch repair pens, coloured wax, car polish and scratch removal solutions.

The efficacy of these products will vary depending on the size and severity of the scratch.

How can I remove a deep scratch on my car?

If you have a particularly deep scratch on your car (e.g. a scratch that has cut right through the vehicle’s clear coat, paint and primer), we would advise having it repaired professionally.

A vehicle paintwork specialist will have the tools and expertise needed to repair the scratch to a high standard. However, repeatedly attempting to repair a deep scratch yourself using unsuitable tools or materials could further damage your vehicle.

Removing car scratches through your insurance

Various car insurance providers have different policies regarding the levels of superficial damage that can or cannot be covered by their insurance — even under a comprehensive policy.

Of course, even if such repairs are covered by your insurance provider, it’s important to consider whether making a claim for the repair costs would be worth losing your no-claims bonus.

Before attempting to claim through your insurer, you should get a quote from a local scratch removal specialist. In some cases, paying for these repairs yourself – and retaining your no-claims bonus would be the better option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you polish a scratch out of a car?

You can often vastly improve the appearance of surface scratches using car polish, toothpaste — and other similar products. Although you may not always be able to eliminate the scratch completely using this method, you should at least be able to make it less apparent.

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Can you use toothpaste to remove car scratches?

Yes, toothpaste can help to remove – or minimise the appearance of car scratches. Thanks to its mildly abrasive properties, toothpaste can be used to buff away imperfections in your car’s paint job. For the best results, we would recommend using a silica-based whitening toothpaste.

Can you use WD-40 to remove car scratches?

While some drivers report that applying WD-40 to a scratch on their car has improved its appearance, we would advise against trying this. This is because the lubricant in WD-40 is not designed for this purpose — and using it to remove a scratch may cause further damage to the paintwork. Therefore, we recommend using only proven scratch removal tools and methods.

Can you use repair pens to remove car scratches?

There are plenty of scratch repair pens on the market which can be used to reduce the appearance of car scratches. You should be able to find a pen that matches the colour of your car at a local automotive shop or online.

However, bear in mind that these products work best on minor scratches and aren’t particularly effective when applied to deeper scratches — especially those that have cut through the clear coat, paintwork and primer.

Is it harder to remove scratches from a black car?

Scratches often stand out more on black cars due to the stark contrast between the paint and base metal colour. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the scratches will be any more difficult to fix.

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