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How to Use Rubbing Compound on a Car

Updated February 21, 2017

If the exterior of your vehicle sports unsightly scuffs or minor scratches, try using a rubbing compound to restore the car's finish. Rubbing compound is an abrasive paste that allows you to buff out minor imperfections in your car's paint without resorting to an expensive trip to the auto bodyworks garage. Keep in mind that rubbing compound will not restore severe damage such as dents or deep scratches.

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  1. Determine what grade of rubbing compound you need for the job. Use course compounds for difficult areas, and less course compounds for more minor work. Take a picture of the scuff or bring your vehicle to the auto supply store so that a sales associate can advise you on the best grade of compound for your job.

  2. Wash the damaged area of your vehicle with warm water and soap. Remove all dirt, sand and debris that might further damage the vehicle as you work with the rubbing compound.

  3. Dab a small amount of the rubbing compound on a cloth, and spread the rubbing compound on the damaged area. Rub vigorously with quick circular strokes.

  4. Continue to rub the compound until you see the scuffs disappear. Add more compound to the cloth as required to maintain its effectiveness.

  5. Wipe off the compound with a fresh, clean cloth once you are satisfied with the results. You may need to rinse the area with warm water to fully remove all remaining compound.

  6. Tip

    An electric polishing wheel can help make short work of the rubbing or buffing process.


    It is essential to use a clean rag, and make sure that the area in question is free of all dirt, sand, stones and debris before you begin using the rubbing compound. Otherwise, you will risk further damage to your vehicle.

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Things You'll Need

  • Soap
  • Water
  • Clean cloth
  • Rubbing compound

About the Author

Shae Hazelton

Shae Hazelton is a professional writer whose articles are published on various websites. Her topics of expertise include art history, auto repair, computer science, journalism, home economics, woodworking, financial management, medical pathology and creative crafts. Hazelton is working on her own novel and comic strip while she works as a part-time writer and full time Medical Coding student.

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