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How to Remove Scratches from Your Car
We’ve all been there, and most of us remember the moment as if it was some sort of war flashback.
The surprise, the pain, the shock!
I’m talking about deep scratches in our vehicles. Our beloved wheeled babies - hurt by this cruel world!
Who would do something as atrocious and terrible as this?
What have WE done to deserve this!?
Going out to the garage and looking at the scar, our eyes open wide and our skin pale, what has happened? Who did this?
Or even worse, when we FEEL the scratch while we’re driving! That scraping noise, the goosebumps, and that horrible feeling as if it was our own skin lifting.
It is a painful thing to feel.
Unfortunately, technology is not advanced enough yet for cars to be self-healing.
And, although it sounds like a great plot for a cheesy sci-fi movie, it is not a reality and won’t be…
At least in the near future … you never know.
So, after you sit down in a chair for a while, get a glass of water and wait for your skin to recover its natural color and your heart to stop beating as if it wanted to escape your chest, it’s time to think.
What now indeed, that scratch looks as deep as the Grand Canyon and we have no clue how to take it off.
First, asking the almighty entity that knows it all: Google
If you’ve never typed in the following words, you’ve never truly known pain...
- “How to remove scratches from car”
- “Deep scratch repair”
- “How to get scratches out of car?”
- “Car paint scratch”
- “How to fix scratches on car?”
- “How to find those who scratched my car?”
- “Why is revenge a dish best served cold?
Ok, maybe not the last 2...
Thousands of results come up, from companies trying to sell you their products to homemade remedies that might or might not work out. We look desperately to find out what to do now. Actually, there is a high chance you might’ve found this article thanks to one of those searches.
If that is the case, or if you simply want to know what to do in one of those cases, read on.
(Let’s cross our fingers in the hopes you don’t have to witness such tragedy) ...
Let me introduce you to the best solutions out there.
How Do You Get Deep Scratches Out of a Car?
Yes, of course, you want to take that scratch-off ASAP. But hold your horses, there is something that you must do before! Most scratch removing methods include a lot of buffing, but if you start buffing right away you will just make it worse.
In most occasions the scratch is not “alone”. It usually has residue on it. Dirt, metallic fragments, paint from another car in case of collision, etc. can result in residue over the scratch.
If you start buffing the scratch out with those contaminants still present, you will simply make the damage reach even deeper by pretty much sanding your car with those contaminants.
So, first touch the scratch and check if it feels gritty.
I know it feels like touching an open wound, but be strong, your metal baby will get through this.
Try to remove any major particles from the scratch manually, as many as you can. Then, wash the scratch.
Pressured water is best as it helps the foreign particles bounce off, but not everyone has a pressure hose available, so your normal one will do.
Now, your regular soapy water will do the rest. A softer sponge will do best as it captures some of those residual particles. It might sound a little bit too much, but we believe the more caution the best.
Avoid washing the scratch in circular motions, as it will do what we’re avoiding: buffing the contaminants in. Instead, use crisscross patterns instead, as that will push them to the sides.
First swipe horizontally, then vertically…
Or the other way around, we’re pretty flexible about that over here.
Rinse with water and voilà!
Touch the scratch again and make sure you don’t feel any looser gritty particles, if you do, time for a second round of soap and water. Make sure to dry the area with a microfiber towel before following any further steps.
Alright, now prepare your nose for a minty experience, it’s time for toothpaste!
Why Does Toothpaste Remove Scratches?
Yes, you don’t even have to go to any store to get supplies, what you need is right at home!
Alright, wait, we’ll explain to you exactly how and why. We haven't gone insane.
This is a very well-kept secret, especially between used-car retailers. Have you ever wondered why the paintwork in a car from 10 years ago is still good-looking?
It doesn’t mean the car remained unscathed throughout its journey. Of course, taking good care of your car is important, but avoiding scratches 100% is like avoiding bumping your pinky toe against your furniture. No one wants that to happen, it hurts like crazy, but it eventually happens whether you like it or not.
But why toothpaste?
The reason this works is that scratch repair consists mostly of “buffing” or “sanding” the scratch. You might not even realize this when applying it to your teeth, but toothpaste has some tiny gritty particles in it that help teeth stay clean. Yes, we kind of sand our teeth gently on the daily, but that’s pretty much the only way to effectively remove food and tartar. The same thing would happen with your scratch. The damage can be gently buffed out.
We particularly recommend whitening toothpaste, as those grittier particles that help people remove the yellowish layer from their teeth will more effectively remove the damage in the car.
The process is pretty simple.
On the clean damaged area, apply a generous amount of toothpaste, let it sit for about ten minutes so the scratch can soften and then start buffing with a microfiber towel. Toothpaste is not too rough or abrasive with our paintwork, so don’t be afraid to apply some pressure when buffing.
Rinse off the area and check if the scratch is fully removed. If not, reapply toothpaste over the still damaged area and repeat the process.
Hopefully, that fully took care of the issue but toothpaste can only go so far. Really deep damage will not be repaired using this method.
Moving to something more serious that really damaged the inner coats of your vehicle, we really have to go to the traditional methods of scratch removal.
Stuff like a serious scrape from a parking lot concrete pillar or another car, a minor crash or…
A vengeful key scratch.
How Do You Fix Your Car If It Got Keyed?
Your vehicle getting keyed is one of the most painful things a car owner can encounter.
Because accidents in life happen.
You might feel guilty if you scraped your car by bumping into something while parking.
“Yeah, my bad”.
Most other scratches come from incidents that are outside of your control and can’t really be avoided. Falling branches, rocks hitting the vehicle or even a clumsy driver accidentally bumping into you or opening their door right next to your car and hitting it.
Stuff in life happens, we can’t protect our cars with a force field as much as we wanted to.
But key scratches…
Someone intentionally approached your beloved 4-wheeled babe and stabbed it with a key.
They know where it hurts.
They know how hard it is to get it off, how expensive it might be and overall, how you will feel once you approach your car only to realize there is a freshly made wound in the one object you love as if it had a life of its own.
A not so smooth break up with a significant other?
Some issues with that annoying neighbor that enjoys playing loud music at 2:00 am?
Who knows who did it, but whoever it was, they have something serious against you.
But the damage is done, now it’s on us to do something about it. Serious damage requires serious measures.
For this, we’ll provide you with the steps for a traditional “sanding and filling in the gaps procedure”.
First, let’s determine how bad it is.
Some basic theory about vehicle paintwork, your car has 4 layers:
The clear coat: A pretty self-explanatory name, it is a transparent layer that covers your vehicle. As the outermost layer of your car, it is the most exposed to environmental damages so it’s the one that usually receives the most damage.
Car manufacturers will normally make this one the thickest layer in order for it withstand the highest level of exterior damage. This coat tends to fade throughout times and get thinner, especially with constant sanding.
Minor damages to this coat (micrometric scratches), although they are barely perceptible to our eyes, affect the glossy look of the clear coat and prevent it from protecting the car the best way (Bertrand-Lambotte et al., 2002).
- The paint coat: Not really much to say about this one, this layer consists of pure paint. This is the layer that simply determines the color of your car.
- The primer: You probably had heard about this one, but it’s the first layer that protects the bare metal sheet. It serves as a bonding agent between the metal and the paint. It’s pretty much the glue that allows the paint to stick and stay in place.
- The metal sheet: This one is not an exterior layer; this is the actual structure of the vehicle. The most serious possible damages are the ones that have reached the bare metal.
So how to know how deep does the damage go?
Professional car detailers have a specialized tool that measures the thickness between the outermost layer and the metal sheet, and with this, they can determine how deep a scratch is.
But that sort of equipment is not something we all have in our garage, nor can we go to Walmart and get it for $4.99. But we certainly have some tricks in order for you to use one of the most powerful tools given by nature: your sight.
So, the first step is to wet the damaged area.
If the scratch “disappears” with water, but reappears when the water dries, that means that water, being transparent, is filling in the gap of something else that is also transparent.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
That means that the clear coat is the one that is damaged, and this is the easiest to repair. Now, if the scratch is visible even when wet, try to determine the color of the scratch.
The primer layer is white, yellowish, or grayish. If it looks like any of these colors, your paint layer is gone, and you have to take care of it from the primer upwards.
If the scratch has a metallic sheen…
Houston, we have a problem...
That means the innermost structural layer, the metal sheet, has been damaged. Please fix this one ASAP if this is the case, because if the metal oxidizes, things will become 10 times harder to fix.
So now, at this very point, if the damage is deep, we honestly recommend you leave it to a professional. If you’re really on a budget and truly want to do this yourself, here we go:
On the clean scratch, wet the surface, take a 2000 grit sandpaper and wet the sandpaper too. You have to thin and even out the clear coat, not only in the area of the scratch, but the surrounding area so everything is leveled before applying any other products.
Sand and rinse until you can’t see the scratch anymore. If the paint or primer layer are damaged, you will have to take some extra steps.
They sell brush tip applicators or pens so you can reapply the coat to a specific area. If you can see the bare metal, apply your primer into the area, let it dry and cure as the instructions tell you and then go with the paint.
For the paint, make sure it completely matches the color of your car. Apply on the specific area required and let it dry and cure based on the manufacturer's instructions.
For a more blended and seamless finish, you can apply spray paint instead, but if you’re doing this, make sure the paint color is spot on the same as your car.
Once your layers are being restored, you will see a cloudy matte section from the sanding. The only thing left to do then is polish.
Again, if you don’t have a professional polisher, go with your local detailer.
The process is time-consuming and if you're new to this, it is pretty risky. We again recommend going to the detailer in the first place if the damage is severe.
Now, you might be wondering, where am I supposed to buy all of the stuff needed if the market is so saturated.
Well, we have the perfect suggestion for light to medium damage:
What Is the Best Product to Remove Scratches from Cars?
All the previously mentioned solutions involve several steps, but we prefer a one and done product that can just get rid of the problem, quick and easy.
Our personal pick in order to get the easiest solution without spending an arm and a leg is:
Shine Armor’s REVIVE SCRATCH REPAIR
Why Shine Armor’s Revive Scratch Repair?
People are increasingly moving to Shine Armor’s Revive Scratch Repair as soon as they get to see how this game-changer solves scratches and swirls faster than any other.
I’m sure that soon you’ll join the complete experience this product delivers as soon as you see how it looks: as if your car went back in time after applying this product.
Revive Scratch Repair will easily get rid of the damage without any need to sand or polish. Simply apply, scrub and wipe off and your car will look like brand new again.
It’s very simple and easy to apply.
Just apply a drop of the gel and scrub off with a micro-fiber towel. Wipe it off and you’re good to go.
If a single application didn’t remove the scratch 100%, you can just repeat, and it will be gone!
No more risky procedures at home.
Don’t pay hundreds of dollars to your local detailer.
Get a one and done product that will just get rid of the problem as if it was never there.
Bibliography & Sources:
Bertrand-Lambotte, P & Loubet, Jean-Luc & Verpy, C & Pavan, Santha. (2002). Understanding of automotive clearcoats scratch resistance. Thin Solid Films. 420. 281-286. 10.1016/S0040-6090(02)00943-4.
Schulz, U., Klimasch, T., & Alers, P. (2001, 18 junio). The influence of weathering on scratches and on scratch and mar resistance of automotive coatings. Recovered september 3rd, 2019, de https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300944001001485
Song Luo, Li Zheng, Hong Luo, Changsen Luo, (2019) A ceramic coating on carbon steel and its superhydrophobicity,Applied Surface Science,Volume 486, Pages 371-375, ISSN 0169-4332, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apsusc.2019.04.235.