How to Repair a Scratch on a Rental Car

Updated February 21, 2017

You may be in a position where you must rent a car sometime during your driving days. Even if you don't travel on business or vacation, you may need to have your car repaired and must rent a car to avoid being without transportation. Rental car companies expect you to return the car in the same condition as when you rented it. The company will look the car over for damages when you return it and will require you to pay for any defects. You can save money by using a buffer to repair a scratch on a rental car yourself.

Choose the pad to buff out the scratch. Several pads come with the buffer when you buy or rent it. For very fine scratches, use a light, thin buffer pad. For deeper scratches, use a heavier, thicker pad. Slip the pad onto the buffer by sliding it over the circle polisher.

Put rubbing compound onto the scratch on the rental car with the pad supplied with the compound. The pad is usually found in the lid of the compound. Dip the rubbing compound pad into the compound, and spread the rubbing compound over the scratch in a circular motion. Allow the compound to set up for 15 minutes after you spread it out. It will turn white after it has set.

Set the buffer on 1000 RPMs (revolutions per minute), and turn the machine on. Hold the buffer with both hands, with one hand on each side of the buffer, and place it on the scratch with gentle pressure. Move the buffer in a side-to side movement across the scratch, not spreading out more than 18 inches. Increase the speed of the buffer to 1200 to 1500 RPMs as you convert to an up and down movement, spreading the rubbing compound into the scratch as you go. Apply the buffer to the scratch for 5 minutes or until the scratch is gone.

Turn the buffer off when your rubbing compound either gets dry or turns white. Spray a mix of water and isopropyl alcohol on the scratch, and rub the compound in a circular motion by hand with a soft microfiber cloth.

Remove the polishing pad from the buffer and replace it with a finishing pad, which is the thinnest, lightest pad in your buffer kit.

Apply the finishing wax to the former scratched area of the rental car with the pad supplied with the finishing wax. Dip the pad into the wax and spread the wax onto the area where the scratch was with the pad. Allow the wax 20 minutes to dry.

Shine the finishing wax by rubbing it in a circular motion across the repaired scratch with a microfiber cloth to remove all traces of the wax.


Make sure the rental car is clean before you attempt to remove the scratch with the buffer. You can purchase or rent a buffer at most automobile supply stores and many home improvement stores.


It must be dry outside when you use the buffer, or you may shock yourself on the wet ground.

Things You'll Need

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