How to remove scratches from plastic bumpers

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How to remove scratches from plastic bumpers
Scratches are unsightly. (Photo by the author.)

Removing scratches from plastic bumpers can be a very expensive if you take it in to an auto repair shop. There is a way, however, to remove these scratches without taking the car in and without buying a lot of expensive tools or equipment. Follow these suggestions to quickly and easily remove scratches from plastic bumpers.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Clean the area around the scratch with dish soap to remove any dirt or surface wax. You may have to use a rag wrapped around a finger to get into the scratch. Rinse the soap off completely. Blot the surface dry with paper towels before continuing.

  2. 2

    Examine the scratch. If you run the tip of your fingernail across the scratch and your fingernail catches in the groove as you scrape it across, the scratch is deep. If your fingernail does not catch, the scratch is superficial.

  3. 3

    Fix a superficial scratch by simply buffing it out with a buffing compound. Attach the buffer pad to the end of your drill at the post that comes on the buffer pad. Apply the buffing compound to the buffer pad and then evenly buff out the scratch. Paint on some clear coat if there is a white line around the scratch. Once the clear coat dries, buff and wax the car as usual.

  4. 4

    Fix a deep scratch by applying a thin layer of paint from a touch-up pen to the scratch. If using the paintbrush applicator instead of the pen, buy a fine paint brush to guide the paint. Press the pen inward on a location other than the car so that the paint starts to come out. Make sure to purchase the correct paint colour by looking for the colour code on your vehicle and matching the code to the proper paint pen (see Resources).

  5. 5

    Make sure that the scratch is completely covered by the paint. Use rubbing compound to smooth the paint after it dries. Add a layer of clear coat and buff it after the clear coat dries. Buff and wax as usual.

Tips and warnings

  • For best results, keep the paint out of the sun until it cures.
  • Work on the car in a location that is protected from dirt and dust.
  • Dish soap can damage your finish or the paint (if it is in poor condition).
  • Make sure that the paint is applied in a properly ventilated location.
  • Wear goggles.
  • Read and follow all instructions that come with the tools, compound(s), and liquids that you use.

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