How to Rub out Scratches in Car Paint

Written by amelia jenkins
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How to Rub out Scratches in Car Paint
There's nothing more attractive than a shiny, flawless paintjob. (a car in a car show image by Gary from

Car paint is highly susceptible to scratches. Scratches occur any time a car comes in contact with another object, such as a shopping trolley or the door of another vehicle. The exterior of modern cars are comprised of four levels: the clear coat, the paint colour, the primer and the metal base. Deep scratches can reach all the way to the primer or even to the car's base. With a few simple tools, you can rub out most scratches from your car paint in no time.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Clean rags
  • Bucket
  • Soap
  • Towels
  • Adhesive remover
  • Lacquer thinner or acetone
  • Rubbing compound
  • Buffing tool
  • Polishing compound
  • Car wax

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  1. 1

    Clean the surface around the scratch with a rag and a bucket of warm water and soap to ensure debris does not get into the scratch while you are removing it. Use a towel to dry the area.

  2. 2

    Apply a small amount of adhesive remover to a clean, dry rag. Gently rub the rag against the scratch in a circular motion.

  3. 3

    Place a small amount of lacquer thinner or acetone on a clean, dry rag, and gently rub the rag against the scratch in a circular motion.

  4. 4

    Clean the area again with warm water and soap to remove any traces of adhesive remover or acetone if the scratch is still present. Use a towel to dry the area.

  5. 5

    Apply rubbing compound inside and around the scratch with a buffing tool. Use circular motions to buff the scratch with the rubbing compound. Continue buffing until the scratch is removed. Once the scratch is gone, use back-and-forth motions to remove the circular marks left by the rubbing compound. Rub the remaining rubbing compound off your vehicle with a clean, dry rag.

  6. 6

    Apply polishing compound over the areas where the buffing compound was used. Using a clean buffing tool, gently rub the polishing compound on the vehicle in circular motions. Continue to buff the polishing compound onto the vehicle until it vanishes into the paint.

  7. 7

    Apply a thin layer of liquid or clay wax over the entire area affected by the scratch, including any places you put rubbing or polishing compound. Use a rag or buffing tool to apply the car wax, and rub in small circular patterns until the wax vanishes into the paint, leaving a shiny surface.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a new rag each time to prevent old products from coming in contact with the car's surface again.
  • Use gentle pressure when applying the rubbing compound. Rubbing compound can damage the paint if not used carefully.
  • Use quick motions when waxing the vehicle. The wax will dry quickly and be difficult to remove.

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