How to Cut & Polish Scratches Off Your Car

Written by j. taylor ludwig
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Anytime you take your car out of the garage or carport, you take chances on getting scratches on it. Cars can become scratched from inclement weather, from birds, squirrels and other critters, and from foliage from trees and plants, among other things. If you've tried to remove scratches from your car by hand and have been unsuccessful in doing so, you need a better method. The best way to cut and polish scratches off your car is by using a car buffer, which you can purchase or rent from an automobile supply store.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Buffer
  • Buffer polishing pads
  • Rubbing compound
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • 2 microfiber cloths
  • Buffer finishing pad
  • Finishing wax

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  1. 1

    Select the pad to cut and polish the scratch. The buffer comes with several pads when you rent or buy it. For thin, fine scratches, use a thin, light buffer pad. For deep scratches, use a thicker, heavier pad. Slide the pad on the buffer by slipping it over the circle polisher.

  2. 2

    Place rubbing compound on the scratch with the pad included with the compound. The pad is found in the lid of the rubbing compound. Dip the pad into the rubbing compound, and spread the compound over the scratch using a circular motion. Allow 15 minutes for the compound to set up after you spread it out over the scratch. The compound will turn white after it has set up.

  3. 3

    Set the buffer to 1000 RPMs (revolutions per minute), and turn on the machine. Hold the car buffer with both hands, placing one hand on each side of the car buffer, and place the buffer on the scratch with a gentle pressure. Slide the buffer side-to side across the scratch, not spreading out wider than 18 inches as you cut and polish the scratch. Increase the buffer speed to 1200 to 1500 RPMs while converting to an up and down movement, spreading the rubbing compound in the scratch as you move the buffer. Keep the buffer on the scratch for five minutes or until you have removed the scratch.

  4. 4

    Turn off the buffer when the rubbing compound becomes dry or turns white. Spray a mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol onto the scratch, and cut and polish the rubbing compound into the scratch in a circular motion by hand using a soft microfiber cloth.

  5. 5

    Take the polishing pad off the buffer, and replace it with the finishing pad, which is the lightest, thinnest pad in the buffer kit.

  6. 6

    Apply the finishing wax on the former scratched area of the car with the pad included with the finishing wax. Dip the pad into the wax, and spread the wax on the area where the scratch was using the pad. Allow 20 minutes for the wax to dry.

  7. 7

    Polish the finishing wax by rubbing it with your microfiber cloth to remove any traces of the wax.

  8. 8

    Repeat this process for other scratches.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure the car is clean before you cut and polish the scratch with the buffer.
  • Make sure it's dry outside when you use a buffer, or you can shock yourself on wet ground.

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