How to get rid of scratches on your car

Make it look brand new again.
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If you’ve had your car for any length of time, chances are there are a few scuffs and scratches that annoy you, but aren’t worth an expensive trip to the panel beaters to fix. Here’s how you can easily get rid of scratches on car doors or bodies. Plus, how to make your headlines shine.

How to remove scratches from your car at home

1. Check how deep the scratch is

A good starting point is to think about the layers of the car. You’ve got the metal base, the primer, the paint and clear coat. Clear coat scratches are the simplest ones to fix at home because they’re close to the surface.

To find out if it’s a clear coat scratch, wet it and wipe it off. If the scratches become invisible and then reappear as it dries, it’s shallow enough to be in the clear coat. If it’s deeper, you’ll need to consider whether you’re able to fix the scratch at home.

2. Remove the scratch

You can remove superficial scratches on your car with a gentle and soft approach.

Get some specialised automotive sandpaper (very fine, 3000 2500 grit). Soak for 30 minutes with plenty of water on the car and the paper.

Go against the grain of the scratch very slowly, and sand back the area, checking every 5 seconds.

3. Polish the scratched area

At this point, the scratched area of your car could be quite noticeable, with a dull look to it. This is part of the process that’s highlighted in our video. So the next step is to use car polish on the area, simply following the instructions for your chosen polish.

4. Finish off with some car wax

After polishing, put some car wax on the area, rub it in and wipe away any excess wax. It will look as if the scratches were never there.

Knowing how to get rid of scratches on car doors or bodies can save you money and time, but only for more superficial ones.
(Credit: Getty)

How to get rid of paint transfers

Another type of scuff you can remove at home is a paint transfer. This is caused by anything with paint coming in contact with your vehicle, such as a bollard. Here’s how to remove it:

  1. Lubricate the area with WD40.
  2. Thoroughly wet a Magic eEraser and gently use it work off the paint.
  3. Remove the WD40 using soapy water. 
  4. Use a clay bar (a detailing tool you can buy at automotive shops) to detail the area, adding soapy water as needed to lubricate it.
  5. Wipe down the affected area of your car when you’re finished. You’ll be surprised to see all the paint marks come off easily.

What to do if the scratches on your car are deeper

For scratches in the paint, primer or metal base of your car, the easiest option is to get them professionally detailed. This is because trying to fix deep scratches on your car increases the risk of causing more problems, such as chipped paint, bigger scratches or a more noticeable difference to the rest of your car.

If you really want to try and fix scratches in the paint of your car, you will need to sand and repaint the area. This means getting primer and your car’s paint to make sure it matches the rest of the body. Considering the equipment you need to buy, and the potential risk, make sure you decide whether trying to fix the scratch yourself is worth it. If in doubt, speak to a professional before making a decision.

How to restore your headlights

You can buy a headlight restoration kit at an automotive store but you probably have everything you already need lying around at home. 

  • All you need is some toothpaste, preferably one that’s a bit gritty but if it’s not, just add a bit of bicarb soda. 
  • You’ll also need a soft-headed toothbrush but use it gently so you don’t leave any scratches on the headlights. 
  • Once it’s formed a paste, work it around the foggy areas, applying a bit of pressure but not too much pressure so you don’t scratch the glass. 
  • Lastly, work the paste into the headlights until you notice it starting to discolour and go yellow. This means the muck is coming off. 
  • Wipe away the wax using a soft cloth.

These simple fixes can breathe new life into your car, or even help with its resale value. Just remember, if you feel uncomfortable with any of these processes, head to your local automotive shop for more advice.

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