How to remove scratches from your car paintwork

A complete guide to car scratch repair

Car scratches are one of the most common types of damage, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t irritating.

They might not always cause functional damage, but they can be ugly to look at and might affect the value of your car.

Luckily, there are a number of ways to easily reduce or remove most scratches and blemishes from your car – some of them without needing to hire an expert. It’s possible to get tools like car polish or car scratch pens to cover them in.

This article will run through some of the different ways of removing a scratch from your car.

In this article

Scratch marks on car

What to do if you get a scratch on your car

If you get a scratch on your car, the first thing to do is not to panic. Most scratches are unlikely to cause any problems and the main issue is their appearance, which can usually be fixed with simple tools.

The best first step is to work out whether you can fix the scratch yourself. With light scratches, there are lots of options available to you before you need to start thinking about contacting an expert.

We fix 8/10 cars at the roadside

How to remove scratches from a car

A simple set of steps using commonly available materials can help you remove many scratches from your car.

Tools and Materials
  • Car polish or glaze
  • Coloured wax
  • Cutting compound
  • Soap or wax and grease remover
1. Clean and dry the area

Make sure the scratch itself is clean before applying any new material to ensure a smooth result.

2. Choose your tool

If the scratch is shallow, car polish may be enough. For deeper scratches, coloured waxes might be able to fill in the mark.

Cutting or rubbing compound may be effective at polishing it out and removing oxidised paint to reveal a fresher colour underneath.

3. Apply the material as directed

If using car polish, apply it in several thin layers for best results, allowing each to dry before applying the next. Coloured wax can also be applied directly on the scratch to cover up a small blemish.

If the scratch is deeper and you’re using a rubbing compound, work it into the scratch in a circular motion with light pressure to ensure it gets into the grooves. Once you’re finished with the cutting compound, you should wax the paintwork.

4. Wipe the area down

Once the material used has dried off, wipe the area down to remove any excess and to ensure the blemish is no longer visible.

5. Wax and polish

Once the scratch is removed or hidden, complete the process by waxing and polishing the car, to leave a smooth finish with no further sign of the damage.

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How to remove a deep scratch from a car

The first thing to check with a deep scratch is whether it’s led to any other problems around the vehicle.

While a deep scratch is obviously a problem in itself, you want to make sure there isn’t any damage to parts of the vehicle that are going to prevent you using it or that could put you in danger.

If you feel that a cutting compound or coloured wax will not be enough to fix the scratch, some deeper scratches can be fixed with a scratch repair pen.

These are coloured specifically to match your car. You can buy them from a dealer who will be able to make sure the colour matches your car exactly.

Touch-up pens can also be used in conjunction with cutting compounds to cover over the damage, and a clearcoat pen can be used as a final step to seal over the top more effectively.

If the scratch is really deep, you should talk to an expert to make sure the scratch is completely removed.

Do scratch repair pens work?

Scratch repair pens are among the higher quality tools for dealing with deeper scratches.

They often include fibreglass pen tips for removing any rust or loose paint, and can then fill in the scratch with paint matched to the rest of the car to hide a blemish completely.

They can also work well with other scratch repair materials like cutting compounds to more effectively hide the damage.

But remember not to use wax before a touch-up pen – the wax could prevent the paint from sticking resulting in a messy finish.

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How does toothpaste remove deep scratches from car?

Toothpaste can be used to remove small, shallow scratches from your car if they’re just in the clear coat and haven’t pierced right down to the paint.

The abrasive quality of toothpaste – particularly whitening toothpastes – is often enough to smooth out the slight jagged edge of a small scratch. It isn’t enough to deal with scratches that have damaged the paintwork itself, but if you just have a scratch on the surface, wiping it down with toothpaste might help fix it.

Can WD 40 remove scratches on a car?

WD-40 is a mechanical lubricant that can solve a wide variety of problems – possibly including surface-level marks on your car.

It’s best used for scuff marks that can be wiped off, or very shallow damage to the clear coating over the paintwork. As it’s widely available it can be a good thing to try.

How much does it cost to repair a car scratch?

As cosmetic damage, car scratches are often among the cheapest type of car repairs. The price will vary, however, depending on how deep the damage goes and sometimes where the damage is.

If the damage is light, it’s almost always cheaper to try to repair it yourself with some of the readily available tools and materials mentioned in this guide, but deeper scratches may be worth taking to a professional to make sure it’s done right.

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Does my car insurance cover scratches?

If these methods don’t solve your car scratch problems and you can’t ignore the issue, it may be worth filing a claim with your car insurance provider.

Because it’s cosmetic damage, not every policy will cover the cost, but many will and it can be an easy way to get it taken care of.

If in doubt, talk to your policy provider and find out what options are available to you.

If you need a scratch taken care of, book a service or vehicle check with AA Smart Care

Published: 28 July 2021 | Updated: 28 July 2021 | Author: The AA
Should I worry about scratches on my car?
Cosmetic scratches are unlikely to cause any functional issues with your car, though deeper scratches or dents may indicate damage that you should investigate further.
Can a car scratch fail my car MOT?
A scratch on the bodywork of a car is unlikely to affect your car’s MOT. If there’s a scratch deep enough to create a hole, or if the scratch is on your windscreen, you should look to get this repaired before having your MOT.
Does car wax or polish cover scratches?
Car or wax can assist in covering up scratches if they’re shallow. If it’s a deeper scratch though, you may be better using a cutting compound or touch-up pen.
Can you spray paint car scratches?
Spray paint can cover a car scratch, and with a bit of wax or polish, it can hide it completely.

But spray painting is a difficult process and requires a lot of preparation so it’s better to get a professional to do it.

It’s also important to make sure that you get an exact match for the colour of your car to avoid a difference in colour.