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Scratch Problems? Try These Easy Fixes!

car scratch that needs buffing

Scratching your car is just about as painful and physically scratching yourself – if not more, for some people. A scratch along your shiny paint job can devalue your car and make it harder to sell if you’re trying to upgrade. Not to mention, it just isn’t a pleasant look if you put effort into your car.

Scratches don’t just occur in your paintwork either. You can get scratches on your interior surfaces (whether they be plastic or leather) and on your glass. The former is just as much of an eyesight as a scratch in the paint, and the latter can create problems on the road, especially if the scratch or scratches get in the way of visibility.

So, what do you do when you get a scratch?

Many think scratches are permanent marks but this is not always the case. Depending on the depth of the scratch, a lot of the time scratches can be greatly diminished or even completely removed. This greatly improves the overall appearance of your car, returning it to its former condition. So, how do we do it?

Let’s look at some of the best scratch remedies for your car’s various surfaces.

The Paintwork

This undoubtedly the most frustrating area of your car to scratch – the paintwork is pretty unforgiving when it comes to dents and scratches due to its shine. So, understandably, it takes a bit of work to get those pesky scratches out.

The first thing you should do is examine the scratch. Run your fingertips along the scratch to feel whether paint has been removed – that is, that the object or surface has scratched into the paintwork – or whether paint from the other surface has been deposited onto your car. A lot of the time scratches can appear worse than they are because paint from the scratching surface has been transferred onto your car, but this is a good thing – this additional paint can come off.

To remove paint that has been scratched onto your car you’ll need a cutting compound. You’ll find this in the car polish section of your local car supplies retailer. To learn more about what products we rate, including polish, check out our article on getting the best at-home professional clean.

If you can see and feel that the paintwork has been penetrated then you’ll have scratches left over due to the clear coat being damaged. Unfortunately, your clear coat has been damaged, and there’s no repairing this without seeing a professional. The clear coat is a protective transparent layer of your car’s painted exterior panels – it’s also known as the top coat. Once this coat is gone, the scratch is set in to stay.

scratch on car door raining

Removing a Scratch with Polish

  • Wash the area to be treated to remove any abrasive particles
  • Use a gentle aftermarket solvent to remove deposits like tar or bugs
  • Remove any oil residue with a soft cloth
  • Pour a small amount of polish onto a clean cloth
  • Gently apply with the cloth to the scratched area, rubbing in circular motions. You may need to put some elbow grease into it, depending on how stuck on the paint from the other surface is.
  • Wipe away the cutting polish and inspect the damaged top coat
  • If the scratch is still visible, repeat the application of the cutting compound until you have removed as much of the scratch as possible.
  • Seal the treated area with a protective wax

If you’re strapped for time and can’t make it to an auto shop but still want to try minimising your scratch from home, there’s an even more DIY alternative: toothpaste. This likely won’t be as effective as the polish as the polish is both a chemical and physical abrasive and the toothpaste is only a physical abrasive, but it might make a slight difference (while waiting for a polish).

Plastic Surfaces

Getting scratches out of plastic surfaces works on the same principles as the paint. You need abrasive action. The severity of the scratch will determine the technique needed to remove it. If it is a superficial scratch, you can use less abrasive polishing formulas. If it is deeper, you will need a harsh sandpaper or polish to buff it out.

Because plastic is easier to work down, you can use mostly household ingredients or materials for polishing. For a less abrasive polish, try toothpaste or a baking soda paste. For a harsher abrasive, use sandpaper. After you’ve polished the surface, you may notice that the plastic has lost its luster. To get some of that shine back, use a small amount of plastic polishing compound – apply in circular motions with a clean, dry cloth.

The technique for removing scratches from plastic will be more or less the same as with your paintwork; follow the steps above, albeit with your homemade polishing solution onto your plastic solutions. Use your polishing compound as your final step.

cracked windscreen novus

Windscreen Scratches

Although there are options to purchase some at home windscreen repair kits, due to the importance of a strong windscreen for safety reasons, it is recommended to seek professional services to get your windscreen assessed and repaired. Often with a windscreen, a scratch could be more than just that. Chips and cracks are the real worry.

Further, removing scratches for glass is a difficult process – trying to polish out minor scratches can lead to deeper and more obvious scratches that block your vision while you drive. If you do attempt to polish a scratch out of your glass, use only a gentle abrasive like toothpaste and polish for only 30–40 seconds at a time. Wipe the toothpaste off with a damp cloth and dry the glass with a lint-free cloth.

Apart from lack of visibility, there is another concern you should have if harbouring a scratchy windscreen: what is the source of the scratch? A scratched windscreen may indicate your windscreen wipers are deteriorating and need a replacement – this is an issue you should definitely fix before repairing or replacing your windscreen as you don’t want to inflict more damage. Always make sure you go with a company that provides lifetime guarantees on their services as this way you know you’re dealing with a qualified and trusted professional.

Getting a repair or replacement? Learn more about how you can take care of your windscreen before and after the job to ensure a better result!

Novus Autoglass is a trusted name in windscreen repair and replacement. Novus also provides a range of extra services from wiper replacement to headlight restoration. Enquire about our services today by making an appointment online.