- Wash down the area with a soapy water and a towel.
- Mask the area to know where your scratches are.
- Sand the scratch with a 3000 and 5000 grit sandpaper.
- Use polish.
- Buff it with wax.
Car Paint Layers
Let’s talk a little bit about the paint on your car. It has three main layers:
- The first coat is a primer that goes over the bare metal of the car.
- The second coat is the base coat which is the paint that gives your car its color.
- The third coat we have is a clear coat which protects the paint and gives it its glossy shine. This is the thickest paint layer at 1 to 2 mils which is one to two-thousandths of an inch. To give you an idea, that’s about how thick a ziplock bag or a garbage bag is.
- The final layer really isn’t a paint layer, but I wanted to include it because it’s important. It’s a protective layer called the wax layer which helps fill in small imperfections. It also helps protect against light scratches and watermarks.
The reason why you could see a scratch in the clear coat is that when the light hits the scratch, it stands out on scratch free paint. When light hits the paint, it reflects back in a constant pattern, but when there’s a scratch that light reflects back differently and it catches your eye. What you’re gonna do is smooth out that scratch so light doesn’t catch it anymore.
The 5 Step Scratch Removal
Step #1 Soap and Water
Get your soapy water and grab a clean microfiber towel. If your microfiber towel still has a tag on it, make sure you rip that tag off because this tag could actually scratch the paint, and you are trying to remove scratches not create scratches. Now, you want to clean the area that you are going to be working on with soapy water to remove all the dirt and debris so you aren’t rubbing that dirt into the paint and causing more scratches. This is also a good time to check to see if your scratch disappears to verify that it is a clear coat scratch.
Step #2 Tape Off The Area
Next, mask off our scratch and place the tape about a half an inch on each side because it’s gonna be hard to see the scratch once you start fixing it. Just rip off the end pieces of the tape so that the end of the scratch is at the end of the tape. Now you know exactly where the scratches are and you have a nice area to work on. One thing to note is that you are going to move the tape up and down to create a bigger area for each step. So you are gonna work the first step in this area, and then the next step you are gonna get it bigger and bigger so that you are feathering in all your work so the paint blends nice and smooth.
Step #3 Sanding
The next step is to sand the scratch down. If the scratch is deep and it catches your fingernail, then you should start with the 3000 grit. If the scratch isn’t that deep and really doesn’t grab your fingernail that much, you could skip right to the 5,000 grit. What you want to do is you want to stand perpendicular to the scratch. Now a really helpful tip for when you’re sanding, grab a kitchen sponge and wrap the sponge with your sandpaper. This will prevent uneven pressure when you’re pushing down on the sandpaper. If you’re just using your fingers you’re gonna have a pressure point where each of your fingers is that when we use a sponge that pressure is distributed across the whole sponge. So, the pressure on the sandpaper will be a lot more even and your sanding job will come out a lot better. Now you just need to spray down the area. Don’t be afraid to get it soaking wet. Also, spray down your sandpaper. Start sanding along the whole line perpendicular to the scratch. With the 3000 grit, you want to push down with a medium pressure. Every manufacturer uses a different clear coat. Some clear coats are harder than others. In general, you should sand the scratch for about 15 seconds and then check to see if your scratch is still there by wiping down the area with your towel. If it’s gone, you’re done with the 3000 grit. If it’s still there, continue working until it’s gone. This may take a few tries but be patient. You don’t want to burn through that clear coat. If you scratch is really deep, apply a little bit more pressure by removing the sponge and use the sponginess of the sandpaper. For those of you who don’t know, the higher grit number, the finer and less abrasive the sandpaper. So 3000 grit is more coarse than 5,000 grit. Move the tape up and down about another inch or two, and what you want to do is you want to get your 5000 grit sandpaper and work in the area, but also go up a little bit out of the area to feather in that work. The goal is to try to keep the scratch tight because you don’t want to work on the whole body panel, and sand down the whole body panel. You want to make the job easier for yourself. Smaller area equals less work. Once you take a clear coat off, you can’t put it back on. So you want to remove clear coat only in a little area. Move up to your 5000 grit. Make sure you use the sponge again and spray a lot of soapy water on the area and on the sandpaper too. Do the same exact process as with the 3000 grit. Go in a circular motion to cut down the scratches in all directions. Plus, move up outside of the area that you just worked in to blend the scratches into the surrounding paint. Spray down the area and clean it off to inspect your work. At this point, you can take the tape off. If your scratch is still there, keep going with the 5000 grit until you don’t see the scratch anymore. At this point, you don’t want to see any scratch. If you see any of the scratches you’re going to be able to see it when you’re done, so make sure you remove it completely.
Step #4 Polishing
The next step is polishing. You are almost done. In this step, you want to use a really fine polish. If the polish says it removes fine scratches and swirls, that means you could use it. Polish has grit in it so think of this as between like five to ten thousand grit. Before you polish, you should clean the surface to remove all the dirt. Make sure it’s clean because you don’t want to rub any dirt into the paint and create new scratches. Get a clean part of your microfiber towel that you haven’t used yet and put your polish right on the towel. Now you just rub the polish in a circular motion. You want to focus your polishing in the hazy area, but you also want to feather it out into the surrounding paint. You want a medium to heavy pressure on that microfiber towel because this is a really fine polish, so more pressure than when you’re using your sandpaper. You should still see a slight haze. Do one more coat of polish. When polishing you want to attack the scratches at all angles, so polish in a circular motion and work that polish in there good. Now you want to get a clean part on your microfiber towel and just lightly buff the surface to remove any of the polish.
Step #5 Wax
The last step and that’s to grab your paste wax. I suggest using a paste wax because it works better than a liquid wax. This is the step where you put down your protective layer. Not only does the wax fill any microscopic scratches, it also protects your clear coat. So, this is a super important step and this is as simple as wax on, then give it a minute to haze up, and wax off. At this point, you should have a nice reflection and a scratch free paint.
The best part about this is you can do it at home. There is no need to use any special tools or anything. It’s water, sandpaper, polish, and wax. It’s that simple.
There are also products out on the market made to remove scratches. These products are in the price range of $5-$40 and do a great job. I haven’t used all of them, but based on the research that I did, they do a pretty good job.
Top 10 Best Scratch Removal Products
1.Mothers 08408 California Gold Scratch Remover 8 Oz.
This product can be used on any finish. It is capable of restoring the paint and will remove any surface scratches. Upon using this product, you will have to wax your car. If you want long-lasting results, you will have to use this product regularly. You can grab it here
2.Turtle Wax T-241A Polishing Compound & Scratch Remover 10.5 Oz.
Whats good about this product is it can be used as a scratch remover and polishing compound. It is a heavy paste, and it does a great job cleaning the dull and oxidized finish on your car paint. It will restore faded finishes. This brand is well known among the customers. You can grab it here.
3.Meguiar’s G10307 ScratchX 2.0 7 Oz.
Meguiar is also a well-known brand that produces products about car care. I used this product, and it does what it says. It removes swirls, blemishes and light scratches. Whats good about this product is, it removes the scratches, it’s not covering them up. Read the instructions on the container for best results. You can grab it here.
4.3M 39087 Scratch And Scuff Removal Kit 1 Oz.
This is a pretty small container. But it will restore the shine on your paint. Read the instructions on how to use the abrasive square, scratch remover, foam pad and rubbing compound that come with the product. A friend of mine used this and said that it removed the scratch faster than he expected. You can grab it here.
5.Meguiar’s G17216 Ultimate Compound 15.2 Oz.
Another top product from Meguiar. This product removes water spots, scratches, and blemishes. This product restores clarity without causing swirling or scratching thanks to the micro-abrasive technology. It is safe to use this product on clear coats. You can grab it here.
6.Quixx 00070-US Paint Scratch Remover Kit
This product can permanently remove scratches. It is a quick, easy and safe to use. This product is used in two steps. The first step is to remove the scratch and the second step is to restore the paint and make it shine. The instructions are on the container. You can grab it here.
7.Barrett-Jackson Car Scratch Remover
This product removes swirl marks and fine scratches. When used, it only leaves a glossy shine behind. It’s very easy to use. Just buff it on the scratch and then wipe it off. This is a product worth considering. You can grab it here.
8.Turtle Wax T-234KT Premium Grade Scratch Repair Kit
Another Turtle Wax product made it on this list. This product serves as a complete solution when it comes to removing paint imperfections and scratches. This product will help you avoid expensive repairs. It comes with a clear coat finish pen, spray lubricant, restoration pads and paint clarifying compound. You can grab it here.
9.Nu Finish Scratch Doctor
I love this name – Scratch Doctor. It has been lab tested and top rated. It removes scratches effectively and fast. You can use it on your car, bike, fiberglass boats and airplanes(if you own a plane). You can grab it here.
10.Formula 1 Scratch Out Scratch remover For All Auto Paint Finishes
Now, that is a long title. The manufacturer wanted to put everything that this product does in the title. I can also add that this product is a micro-polisher. It can remove haze, swirl marks and fine scratches. It is named Formula 1 because it is fast. You can grab it here.
And that will be all on the scratch removing topic. I hope that this article will help you fix your problem. If you had any unwanted experience and got your car scratches, please tell me in the comments. Have you used any of the 10 products that I listed? Share your experience, tell us if you recommend them or no. Also, if you used another technique to remove scratches from your car paint, I will be more than happy if you share the process in the comments. If you never scratched your car paint, you can bookmark this article and keep it for just in case.