5 DIY Steps on How to get Scratches out of Car Body

How to get scratches out of car body

Have you ever come back to your parked vehicle, ready to drive away, only to find peculiar scratches on it? Ouch! This can be incredibly frustrating. Although I understand your frustration, it’s possible that you’ve encountered this situation before and recognized that car scratches are an unfortunate part of owning a vehicle. In this segment,

I will share repair tips on how to get scratches out of car body.

No matter how careful we are, our car gets scratched for various flimsy reasons – tight manoeuvres, kids using sharp objects to scribble on our car, on account of freewheeling shopping carts, pets playing, and drivers barging into your car, among other scenarios.

About Car Scratch

If you are reading this, you most likely have a dent on your car and want to get it fixed as soon as possible. While you have the option of taking it to the garage, we believe it’s something you can fix yourself right in your home – saving you time and money if you follow our 5 steps on how to get scratches out of car body.

If your car has a serious scratch or you suspect it has been deliberately vandalized, you may need to report it to the police and file a claim with your insurance company for possible compensation.

Before we discuss the 5 car scratch repair tips, let us discuss the various levels of car scratches

How Deep is Your Car Scratch?

The level of your car scratch determines how deep it could have gone into your car paintwork. Typically, every car has about 3 major paint layers – Primer Coat, Base Coat, and Clear Coat.

  • -The first layer is the Primer Coat applied directly on the car’s bare metal (i.e. body panel)
  • -The second is the Base Coat colour paint which gives your car its unique colour identity.
  • -The third layer is the Clear Coat protection on the second layer (Base Coat) that gives your car its glossy look, and a very thin waxy layer that helps protect against light scratches and watermarks.

The third layer is the thickest of the 3 layers, so most small surface scratches, dents, and scrapes happen within this layer. They are easy to fix at home with the 5-step explained below. But before we go into those details, you need to determine the level of the scratch.

How to Determine the Level of Car Scratch.

There are different levels of scratches on cars. Determining the level of a car scratch would be the first task as this will tell the extent of work needed to get scratches out of the car body.

Using Fingernail to Determine Level of Car Scratch

Apply finger on scratch area
Apply your finger to the scratch area. Picasa

A simple trick is to apply your fingernail across the scratch to see if catches the edge or not. If your fingernail does not catch the scratch edge, then this is a layer 1 scratch that can be easily fixed:

If your fingernail catches the scratch edge, then it could be a level 2 scratch or a level 3 scratch. So what is a layer 1 scratch?

Level 1 Scratch:

They are mostly related to swirl marks and are caused by

  • Dirty towels,
  • Automatic car wash,
  • Dirty applicators,
  • Poor technique, etc.

They could be hard to notice unless you move closer to the car, but they are easier to fix as they are within the clear coast (3 layers) of your car paint. Thy can be easily removed with scratch repair kit. Recall we mentioned above that the Clear Coat Layer is what gives your car its glossy look and not really the main body paint.

The type of scratch implies your car base coat (2nd Layer paint) is still intact and you don’t need to worry.

Paint Scratch:

This is also a level 1 scratch (also called a light surface scratches) and accounts for most of the minor scratches. Whenever a car’s bumper rubs slightly against your car; more often than not, the paint from the other car will stick to your car. This doesn’t affect your car base coat; hence, no need to worry.

Level 2 Scratch:

To identify this type of scratch, apply your fingernails to see if it catches the edge. If yes, then look into the scratch to be sure there is no other colour behind the pigment of your car. As long as you do not see any colour behind the scratch pigment, it can be polished down and waxed to make it unnoticeable.

Level 3 Scratch:

If you notice any grey or white colour beneath the scratched surface, it is likely that the damage has gone deep into the primer coat and may require more work to get scratches out of car body. You may need to apply touch-up paint to the scratch surface in this instance.

Level 4 Scratch:

Have you noticed any rust on a car before? This most likely is caused by a layer 4 scratch also called deep scratch. This happens when a scratch is so deep that it has affected the Primer Coat (layer 1) thereby exposing the metal to direct sunlight. For deeper scratches, you would notice a silver colour when you look deep into the scratch. When left unattended, this would cause rust in the affected area. To get scratches out of car body, a paint job to touch up the affected area must be carried out as soon as possible.

5 Ways on How to get Scratches out of Car Body

Now that you have an understanding of the levels of car body scratch, let’s review the 5 steps to get scratches out of car body as described below.

Step 1: Clean the scratch area

Clear the scratched surface of any dirt or debris by washing it with soapy water and then rinse with a clean microfiber tower.

Step 2: Apply seal tape around the scratched area

Place a seal tape about 1 inch above and below the scratched area. This will enable you to focus on the scratch area while you carry out this fix.

Step 3: Use sandpaper to clear off the scratches

Next, use sandpaper to remove the scratches from the car body by applying the paper up and down the scratched surface for about 10 seconds. The level of the scratch will determine which sandpaper is most appropriate.

Recall the fingernail experiment. If your fingernail catches the edge of the scratch, you may begin with 3000-grade sandpaper first to smoothen out the scratch after which you switch to 5000-level sandpaper (The higher the sandpaper number, the less abrasive it gets). Apply the sandpaper until the scratch is completely gone. The scratch area should now look blurred compared to the other part of your car.

Step 4: Apply polish to the scratched surface

Take out the seal tapes and apply polish to the scratched surface to remove fine scratches and swirl marks using a clean microfiber towel. Apply some pressure while gently rubbing the towel on the surface using a circular motion. Get another clean microfiber towel to clean off any excess polish or cloudy spots on the surface.

Step 5: Apply a paste of wax on the surface

Apply a paste of wax on the surface to fill up any micro scratches and protect the clear coat layer. Clean up the surface again with a microfiber towel to remove any excess wax. when done, do not forget to wash and dry the car to remove any excess wax on the car’s body.

NB: Ensure you read your car manufacturer’s instructions for any other possible guidance.

Making insurance claims for scratch fixes

In some serious cases, you can make claims to fix the scratch; however, you need to make sure your policy excess is below the cost of repair. There are a few insurance policy out there that offers separate scratch and dent product. This special policy allows one to make claims for dent fixes.

Other methods to get scratches out of car body include

Using Scratch Repair Pens

You can apply a scratch repair pen on the surface of the scratch to cover it up with lacquer. Allow for some minutes for it to dry up after which the scratch will become invisible. You might need to repeat the process up to 2 times if the scratch is deep.

Using Brake Fluid as Scratch Removal

You can also use brake fluid as a rubbing compound to remove scratches from a car. Make sure the car surface is cleaned first with soapy water and rinse with a microfiber towel. Apply a little drop of brake fluid on a clean dry microfiber cloth and rub gently with pressure in a circular motion on the scratch surface. Make sure to wash the surface off any excess brake fluid after removing the scratch.


Can I use toothpaste to remove scratches from the Car?

Yes, you can use toothpaste as a car scratch remover. The components in tooth whitening toothpaste act as abrasives when applied to wet microfiber cloths to remove scratches on a car surface. However, this method works mainly for light surface scratches where your fingernails do not catch the edge of the scratch. Wash the scratched area with soapy water before and after applying the paste. If the scratches remain, repeat again for one to two more times only.

How much does it cost to fix a scratch?

Your local garage would charge between $100 – 300 to fix some common car dents. You can however do this yourself at home with less than half of this cost.

What materials do I need to remove a car scratch myself?

To fix a car scratch, you would need soapy water to wash the scratch surface, scratch remover cloth, toothpaste, or sandpaper to smoothen off the scratch, a paste, and wax to clear off any micro scratches.

Can WD-40 be used to remove car scratches?

WD-40 can be used as a scratch removal product to remove light scratches on a car, however, its application should be discouraged as it dissolves the top layer of your paint while removing the scratch. Make sure the surface of the scratch is cleaned using soapy water.

To read more related articles on auto repairs, kindly visit our HOME PAGE.

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