There’s nothing worse than coming home from a quick drive to the shops, closing your car door to go back inside, and seeing a small yet eye-catching scuff on your car’s paint. It’s heartbreaking not only for the aesthetic disturbance but the inevitable visit to an expensive mechanic that usually accompanies these incidents. There is no need for this heartbreak anymore as the world has changed and you can do a great job of removing scuffs and scratches from your car at home for half the price of a professional.
The process for removing paint scuffs from a car is one that is time-consuming for some but also very therapeutic. Washing, drying, buffing, polishing, all these different processes are valuable but will require patience. With that in mind, before you embark on your journey you will need to consult your nearest auto shop for all the equipment you need.
- Microfiber cloth
- Clay bar
- Light to medium grit polish
- Car wax
Step 1: Wash and dry
In the process of gaining a scuff on your car, there is dirt and all sorts of other things that make their way into the scene of the crime. Washing your car with water and drying with your microfiber cloth will clear up what problem you are facing.
Step 2: Detail
After the scuff area is dry, spray your detailer and wipe down the scuff with your clay bar.
Step 3: Dry again
Spray more detailer onto the scuff before drying the area with your microfibre cloth.
Step 4: Polish
Apply a small amount of polish onto the area, wiping in a circular motion with a microfiber cloth until all remnants of polish are no longer noticeable.
Step 5: Buff
At this point you should be mostly free of the scuffs on your car, there may be very small scratches left still but these will not be noticeable after you have buffed the area. You should take some time to buff your entire car. Apply wax to the car and use your clay bar to buff out any minor scratches.
How to Remove Paint Scratches From Your Car
Sometimes we can make the mistake of dropping our key and lightly scratching our car, or maybe your neighbourhood has an especially energetic dog. The small scratches on your car that don’t appear to have chips coming off them on the side are very simple to get rid of. These are in the clear coat and can be taken care of with some sanding. All you are going to need is:
- Medium grit sandpaper (ideally 3000 and 5000 grit)
- Fine polish
- Car wax
- Masking tape
- Microfiber towel
Step 1: Washdown area
With your microfibre towel and some soapy water, clean the car of any potential dirt or residue. The scratch may seem to disappear at some point but this is often due to the water going into the scratch rather than removing it.
Step 2: Place tape around scratch
Most scratches you will be working on will be harder to see the more you work on them. Placing some tape a few inches on either side of the scratch will ensure you don’t lose track of your work.
Step 3: Sand the area
Spraying some soapy water on the area and your higher grit sandpaper, start sanding the scratch with medium pressure with an up and down motion. This should only be needed for 30 seconds or so, sand until you can only just to say see the scratch still.
Step 4: Sand with finer sandpaper
Once you can no longer see the scratch, change to using a 5000 grit sandpaper to blend the scratch’s appearance. In a circular motion, wipe this sandpaper over the area until there is a uniform appearance.
Step 5: Polish
With a fine polish and a microfiber towel put a small amount of polish on the towel. Wipe this across the sanded area, also wiping on the surrounding unaffected areas to blend together. This polish has a very fine grit in it, thus it is important to refrain from wiping it across any areas which have not been sanded before.
How to Fix a Scuff on Your Car When You Can’t Remove It
Some scratches simply won’t come off, in this case, we need to get more inventive with our touchups through respraying the area. Of course, remember that the job will never look quite as good as the handiwork of someone in the business of touchups, but there’s no need to let this hold you back. For less than $500 you can touchup even the most intense scratches.
Step 1: Assess the damage
Examine your car’s manual or call your manufacturer to determine the exact paint colour you need. Your manufacturer will most likely offer you touch-up paint however this is often very poor quality paint that will not last.
Step 2: Equip yourself
Often times for scratches the best method of repair is to respray the affected area. In this case, you are going to need some
- Masking tape
- Tarp or newspaper
- Base and clear coat paint
- Spray painting system
- Light to medium grit (1000-2000 grit) sandpaper
- Painting primer
- Car body filler
- Microfiber cloth
- Safety wear
- Clay bar
- Car wax
Step 3: Mark out the area
Assuming you are going to be spraypainting the area, put masking tape around the area you will be painting. Covering the rest of the car with a tarp or newspaper, held down with masking tape. This is especially important for windows, ensuring the only exposed part of the car is the area requiring paint.
Step 4: Put on your safety equipment
A respirator is essential for this process and either disposable clothing which covers your whole body or a bodysuit for protection. Goggles and gloves are also important safety equipment.
Step 5: Sand the area
Using your sandpaper, lightly wipe over the area including and surrounding the paint scratch. Once you can start to see the body metal you are done, however, there should only be a very small amount of the body metal visible.
Step 6: Apply filler
Once you can see the car metal, lightly apply some car body filler to the area which will be painted, sanding this down to be flush with the surface of the car. Remember you need to mix the filler well before applying, using a flat surface to scrape the filler over the area rather than with a brush.
Step 7: Apply primer
Repeat a similar process with primer, applying and sanding down until it is flush with the surface of your car body.
Step 8: Wet sand the area
Soak your sandpaper in a bucket of cold water and soap for 30 minutes before sanding the area one last time. Ideally using light grit first before sanding again with a higher grit, ensuring the area is prepared to blend both coats of paint to give a more uniform finish.
Step 9: Paint base coat
Load your base coat paint into your spray gun and spray the area to be painted with medium-paced strokes from left to right. Hold the spray gun about a hand-span from the body of the car.
Step 10: Paint clear coat
Repeat the same process used with the base coat with the clear coat paint, allowing 30 minutes for each coat to dry.
Step 11: Final buff
Once both coats of paint are dried, run your finger or glove over the previously scratched area to ensure the surface is even. If there are bumps, using fine-grit sandpaper to even this out. If the area is smooth, use some car wax and a clay bar to wax and buff the paint.
Step 12: Set a reminder
While respraying is a fantastic cheap way to fix scratches, it is only temporary after all. You should inspect the areas you have resprayed yearly. Of course, it’s easy to forget this amongst all the car care we put into our calendars, thus setting a reminder is best.
How to Remove Swirl Marks
Sadly not all scratches are noticeable, sometimes we accumulate many tiny scratches known as swirl marks. These tend to reflect light far more than bigger scratches and can often go unnoticed. Removing these can also be more difficult but the process remains very affordable.
You will need:
- Clay bar
- Iron remover
- Very light grit sandpaper
- Microfiber towel
Step 1: Wash down area
With your microfibre towel and some soapy water, quickly wash the area of any excess dirt.
Step 2: Lightly sand area
Using sandpaper with a grit above 10000, sand the area with swirl marks with almost no pressure. You should see the swirl marks start to disappear quickly.
Step 3: Apply iron remover
Once the swirl marks appear to be almost removed, put a small amount of iron remover on your clay bar and start buffing the area. You should see the swirl marks completely disappear whilst doing this.
Step 4: Polish
While the swirl marks may appear to be gone, you need to polish the area to ensure the area dries without any problems. Using your polisher and your clay bar, buff the area until it blends perfectly with the paint surrounding it.
Protecting Your Car From Scuffs in The Future
Consistently waxing your car can be an easy way to make sure your car not only looks great but also stays safe in some way when it comes to scratches. This can be a monotonous activity but a weekly or monthly wax of your car will extend the life of the exterior and interior immensely.
Investing in a car that has a base colour suited for hiding scratches is also a strategy some of us may choose to utilise. Silver is best for hiding most scratches while white works well for hiding swirl marks. This can be a double-edged sword at times, due to the trickiness involved in repainting silver and other metallic colours. These colours are usually impossible to perfectly match when repainting.
The idea of sliding constant car care into your schedule sounds like a headache for some of us, but choosing to utilise a sealant to protect your car’s paint job will save you a lot of time. For the average driver, applying a sealant twice a year will set you up for the whole year. Before the most intense seasons of summer and winter, apply a layer of sealant to the exterior of your car.
There are lots of varieties of sealant on the market but you only need to consider whether you want one which requires zero effort or which only needs to be applied twice per year. Purchasing varieties such as Opti-seal means you only need to apply through spraying during the drying process of washing your car. However, these cheaper varieties need to be applied every month. Products such as Powerlock are more expensive but also last much longer, only requiring application twice a year. Alternatively to Opti-seal, these sealants cannot be simply applied and left to dry, they require attention when applying.
If you are going to truly expect your car to stay free from nicks and scuffs, you need to put in the work. That means consistently inspecting the car after every drive and taking every measure to ensure there is not a single thing that can damage your car’s body. You need a good garage, have to be consistent cleaning off any bugs or residue immediately and must stay clear of any rain or alternative sources of water whilst driving. Not to mention, you need to be committed to buying wax and associated products every few months to make sure you can keep the car protected from the elements.