10 months ago

Easy Ways to Fix Scratches on Your Car at Home

Scratches, dings, and nicks are part of every vehicle’s lifespan. Despite all the care you give to your paint job, you never know when a stray shopping cart or hit-and-run driver in the parking lot will ruin it. Luckily, fixing scratches on your car at home is simple and inexpensive if you have the skills. We have the tips in this diy car scratch repair guide.

Types of Car Paint Scratches and Imperfections

Understanding Your Car’s Paintwork

Paramount to learning how to remove scratches from your car is understanding the composition of the paintwork. Unless your vehicle has been repainted, the original paintwork from the factory consists of 3 layers.

The first layer is called a primer and it’s applied directly on the metallic panel to give it a uniform appeal. The second layer- the base color coat– is what gives your car its final color. Lastly, the vehicle is sprayed with a protective clear coat that shields the base color from oxidation and UV light.

In total, these 3 layers have a thickness range of between 67 microns and 198 microns. The actual thickness varies between different car models but it’s often within this range.

Important to point out is that car manufacturers use clear-coated enamel paints because they are more durable. However, what you’re going to use when tackling blemishes on your car’s paintwork will be a lacquer paint.

The major difference between enamel and lacquer paints is the type of solvent used in them. At the factory, manufacturers use white spirits (among other toxic solvents) to harden the paint fast. These solvents create a strong bond between the paints so that they’ll never soften again.

In contrast, lacquer paints use lacquer thinners and they dry after the solvent has evaporated. Since lacquer paints can soften over time, it’s recommendable to give each layer 12-24 hours to dry fully before applying another film.

Getting the Correct Color Code for Your Vehicle

When getting scratches out of your car, you first need to determine whether you want the touchup to blend perfectly with the base color coat. If you just want to cover the scratch and don’t care about it being perfect, any color that’s close to the original paint may be fine with you. You may also have your paint dealer custom-mix several paints to get a hue that closely resembles the original paint.

However, if you need the touch up paint to be as accurate as possible, your only solution is to get your car’s original color using its color code. Your vehicle’s color code may be listed in a sticker or stamped into a plate on the body. This code may be anywhere on your car, but these are the most likely locations;

  • On the inside of the driver’s door jamb 
  • Next to the VIN sticker somewhere at the bottom of the windshield
  • Spare tire cover
  • Trunk floor
  • Inside the glovebox

How to Fix Minor (Almost Invisible) Scratches

Minor car scratches are superficial blemishes on the clear coat that don’t go past the topmost layer of your car’s paintwork. A car scratch is deemed minor if;

i) You can see it if you’re keen but you can’t feel it with your finger.

ii) You can see and feel it but your fingernail doesn’t get trapped in the scratch.

If your fingernail catches on the scratch, you need to scroll down to the next step in this guide on how to remove small car scratches.

If you’re convinced that it’s a minor scratch, be glad as these are the easiest marks to deal with. Here’s how to remove minor scratches on your car.

What you’ll need


  • A 1200-1600 RPM cordless drill
  • Polishing compound pad


  • Polishing compound
  • Rubbing compound
  • 3000-grit sandpaper
  • Microfiber towel


Prepare the scratched area

The first step in this diy car paint scratch repair is preparing the scratched area by removing any dirt.

Next, wet the 3000-grit sandpaper and use it to sand the affected area until the scratch disappears.

Wipe the residue

Then use the microfiber towel to clean the residue and dry the surface.  

Apply scratch-removal compounds

The next step involves applying the compounds. Start by spreading the rubbing compound evenly on the affected area using the polishing pad.

After applying the rubber compound, adjust the drill to 1200 rpm and give the area a good polish until it’s hazy. Lastly, repeat this process using the polishing compound to give it a shiny appearance again.

How to Remove Small Car Scratches

Small car scratches are scuff marks and light scrapes. These blemishes are a little bit more severe than minor scratches because they have dug past the clear coat onto the basecoat. As mentioned earlier, these scratches are deep enough to trap your fingernail when you run it across. That’s to say that they can alter and ruin the perfect aesthetics of your car.

Fortunately, this level of damage is also repairable using readily-available materials and tools. Here’s how to buff out scratches on a car.

What You’ll Need

  • Scrubbing pad
  • Rubbing compound
  • Polishing compound
  • Microfiber towel


Start with a clean surface

Start by cleaning your vehicle, particularly the affected part.

Applying the compounds

Squirt the rubbing compound onto the scrubbing pad and apply it on the scuff mark and the surrounding area in back and forth motions. Ensure to apply firm finger pressure so the compound gets deep into the scratch.

Wipe the residue

After rubbing the compound for at least 30 seconds, use the microfiber towel to wipe away the residue.

Repeat several times

Reapply the scratch removal compound several times until you achieve your desired results or the scratch becomes invisible. Ensure to apply the compound to at least 1” of the surrounding area so the repaired part blends in with the rest of the paintwork.

How to Fix Deep Scratches On Car Paint

Deep scratches (also known as paint scratches) are the worst level of scratches that your vehicle can sustain. These abrasions are commonly caused by keys, stone chips, and auto collisions. The scratches dig deep past the paintwork and onto the car’s metal panel making them the hardest to deal with. However, any patient and enthusiastic DIY’er can remove them with a little effort. Learn how to fill in scratches on your car in a few simple steps.

What You’ll Need


  • 2000-grit sandpaper
  • Microfiber towel
  • Polishing pad


  • Car wax
  • Paper
  • Masking tape
  • Your car’s paint (according to the color code)


Preparing the scratched area

Start by washing and drying the car. Next, sand the affected part using the 2000-grit sandpaper until you get to the metallic panel.

Spray primer and paint

After sanding, mask the surrounding area using paper and masking tape to ensure the spray and primer don’t land on the wrong spots. Next, start by spraying a car primer onto the sanded area and let it dry completely. After the primer has dried, spray several layers of your car’s paint and let it dry.

Polish the newly painted area

The last step is to polish the painted area to blend it with the rest of the body. You do this by adding a dab of the car wax on a polishing pad and rubbing it on the newly painted area. Rub in circular motions until the area matches with the rest of the car.


Can you remove car paint scratches with toothpaste?

Yes, a standard (not gel) toothpaste can be used to remove minor scratches. Standard toothpaste contains a minor grit that helps buff out scratches on the clear coat.

What scratches can be buffed out?

Superficial scratches on the clear coat that don’t catch your fingernail can be smoothed out.

Are car scratches worth repairing?

Yes and no. Minor dents and scrapes that are cheap to fix will help restore your car’s perfect paintwork. However, if your car is old and less-valuable, any cosmetic repairs won’t add any significant value to it.

Does insurance cover scratches on cars?

Yes, most car insurance firms will cover scratches resulting from vandalism and collisions. However, depending on the severity of the scratch, we recommend comparing the price of fixing the scratch out-of-pocket vs. your deductible. In most instances, you’ll find that filing a claim for scratches may not be worth it.