Removing Deep Scratches on Car Paint

Updated April 17, 2017

Scratches on your car detract from its overall beauty and value. However, taking you car to a professional to repair deep scratches often means an expensive repair. Many scratches can be fixed at home with very little time and expense.

Wash the scratched area thoroughly and dry it completely. Any dirt or grit on the vehicle's surface may get rubbed into the paint during the sanding or polishing phases of repair, causing more scratching to the paint.

Rub a contrast material into the scratch. Sand down to the level of the scratch. A contrast material helps to ensure you do not sand too deeply into the paint. Shoe polish is one example of a contrast material. Use dark shoe polish for light paint and light shoe polish for dark paint. As you sand, the shoe polish begins to come off, when it is completely gone, you know it is time to stop sanding.

Sand down the scratch with a 2000 grit or finer wet/dry sandpaper. Keep the sandpaper wet throughout the sanding process and apply a small amount of detergent to it so that it is slippery.

Buff the area with a rubbing compound. You can use an electric buffer if you have one available. If not, use a soft cloth in a circular motion over the area.

Remove the rubbing compound by using a dry, clean cloth to rub the compound away. Use water if the compound doesn't come off easily.

Wax the affected area. Waxing seals the paint in and helps to protect it.


-The grit count of sandpaper refers to the number of abrasives per square inch of paper. The higher the grit count, the finer the sandpaper. -After applying the rubbing compound, you may find that not all of the scratches are gone. If this happens try using a finer rubbing compound to polish the paint further.


If your car has a clear coat, pay attention to the water during the wet sanding step. If the water shows any colour in it, the clear coat must be resprayed.

Things You'll Need

  • Car detergent
  • Shoe polish
  • Sandpaper
  • Two soft cloths
  • Electric buffer (optional)
  • Wax
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Melissa Vega started writing in 1996. She has experience writing travel articles, self help, nonprofit communication and children’s literature. She has been published in "Pecan Grove" and "Today’s Catholic."