Even the most meticulous auto-enthusiasts can’t escape the occasional scrape or scratch. Even if you’re careful not to get in any accidents, debris, bad weather, and the worst possible thing – other people – always have the potential to add a few blemishes to your vehicle’s exterior. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait at the body shop to remove car scratches. For most superficial spots, you can fix them up right at home. Check out how to remove car scratches in your own garage below. 

tools to help remove car scratches

Figure out what level scratch you have

The first step to remove car scratches is to check out what you’re working with. Does your fingernail catch when you glide it across? If not, you’ve got a pretty superficial scape (yay!) that’ll be pretty easy to polish out. If your nail does catch, no need to worry just yet. This just means you have a surface scratch, and may need a little more patience/time to fix. 

Safety first

As always when you go to work on your car, it’s important to have the proper safety equipment on hand. Paints, solvents, and hydrocarbons can be messy and irritating to your skin, so make sure you’ve got nitrile gloves over a long-sleeve shirt, safety glasses, and a ventilator if you’re not working outside. 

How to remove superficial car scratches 

If you’ve got a free hour and some cash in your wallet, you’ll probably be able to fix a light scratch pretty easily. 

What you’ll need: 

  • 3000-grit sandpaper
  • Microfiber towel
  • Polishing compound
  • Rubbing compound
  • Cordless drill
  • Polishing compound pad

What to do:

  1. First, you’ll want to sand your scratch. Wet both the scratch and sandpaper, and then lightly sand until the finish looks dull. Clean the surface with a microfiber towel. 
  2. Next you’ll want to apply rubbing compound onto your polishing pad and spread it around the pad evenly. Run your polisher or drill at 1,200 RPM until you get a light haze. 
  3. Follow up with polishing compound to restore shine. 

How to remove deeper scratches

If you’ve got a bit of a deeper scratch – it’s no worries. With the right tools and a little DIY time, you can just as easily remove these scratches. Just remember to wash your car beforehand. 

What you’ll need: 

  • Microfiber towel
  • Polishing compound
  • Rubbing compound

What to do:

  1. Apply a quarter-sized amount of scratch-removal product onto your scrubbing pad and place directly onto the scratch. 
  2. Work that product into the scratch, as well as the surrounding area. 
  3. Wipe away any residue with a microfiber towel.
  4. Repeat this method 2-3 times. After each time, the scratch should be harder to see. 

Want more car restoration tips? Check out how to remove rust from your car and other tips on the Headlights blog! 

Claire Biggerstaff
Claire Biggerstaff is a freelance writer and photographer from Charlotte, NC. Her curiosity leads her to write about a wide variety of topics. On her off days, she enjoys reading Polygon articles, and curling up to a good YouTube playlist.

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    1. I really needed this with my last car.

    2. Be careful with sandpaper! Take your time!!

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