Removing Car Scratches: The Revenge of the Frugal Body Shop
After the unexpected popularity of my previous post on dents, I thought it would be good to follow up with perhaps an even more annoying and prevalent form of car damage — scratches. We all get them, they really look awful and I have been on the hunt finding new and old techniques for removal.
Once again, I can't vouch for the success of all of these as I have only tried a couple. And as always, the type of scratch and model/make of car will also vary the result you get. But they're always worth a try. Here we go...
1. Super glue, aluminum foil, grease wax and paint scrapings
OK, I admit it. I'm way too scared to try this one as I have a 6-month-old Civic and don't want to make my scratch look any worse. Plus, I don't think this one works with clear coat. But if you have an older model car and want to try it out, be my guest. (See also: 6 Slick Tools to Save Money on Car Repairs)
2. Rubbing compound and wax
Sorry, no video for this one but I got this from a mechanic and it's solid advice for minor scratches. I trust it 100%.
- Apply a polishing compound with the MILDEST abrasive to a damp sponge.
- Use a circular motion and buff the area until the scratches have gone. NOTE: Practice first on an unseen part of the car, maybe in the trunk.
- Wash the area completely with your usual wash-and-wax cleaner.
- Apply wax (liquid wax works best) to a sponge and buff the area, again in a circular motion.
- Using a soft towel, buff the wax away. The minor scratches should be history.
3. Car touch-up paint and rubbing compound
A similar version to No. 2, but for slightly deeper scratches. The full account with photographs can be found here but the basic principle is this:
- Apply a layer of touch-up paint over the scratch.
- Remove excess with a sharp piece of plastic, after it has dried.
- Using an abrasive polish and a soft cloth (or buffing machine) begin buffing
- When all of the paint is removed, wash, wax and buff as usual. Not perfect, but a lot better than before.
Nope. Sorry, doesn't work. It didn't work on my CDs either. Another busted technique is Colored Car Wax, which will only mask the scratch for a while but it soon wears off. Of course, you can always splurge a little and buy a scratch/swirl remover. I found some good ones at Autogeek. Or better yet, just buy a complete rubber bra for the whole car! (By the way, that last one's not really my advice...I mean, c'mon...that's going a little overboard, yes?)