How to remove scratches from a car

Last updated February 03, 2023

Your car is one of the biggest investments you’ll make. Keeping it in good condition will help to retain more of its value, so that you can achieve a favourable price when the time comes to sell your car.

Unfortunately, no matter how carefully you drive, after a number of years on the road, some wear and tear is inevitable. There’s also good chance that you’ll eventually amass a scratch or two on the bodywork, which can affect what your car is worth.

This can be disheartening – especially if you have been taking special care to preserve your car’s showroom looks. Luckily, there are several simple methods to rectify pesky scratches and keep your car looking its best.

In this article, we’ll cover what to do when you notice a scratch – and provide you with a step-by-guide to help you restore your paintwork to its former glory. We’ll also look at the best tools and equipment for tackling stubborn scratches – and your options for getting scratches removed professionally.

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My car has been scratched – what should I do?

After noticing a scratch on your car, your first step should be to assess the damage and determine just how deep the scratch is. The depth and severity of the scratch will indicate whether the damage can be repaired without the help of a professional.

To get an idea of how deep the scratch is, gently run your fingernail across it. If it doesn’t catch, the scratch is most likely superficial - and you should be able to fix it relatively easily at home. However, if it does catch, you should seek the help of a trusted scratch removal specialist to avoid risking any further damage to your car’s paintwork.

Using the right repair product (or service) will help ensure that you achieve the desired results – and maximise your car’s valuation, if you are repairing the scratches with a view to selling it.

Can I remove car scratches myself?

Yes, providing the scratch is not too deep.

When looking at how to remove scratches from a car, it’s important to choose the right tools and products for the job. There are several methods for removing superficial scratches - with some being easier than others. If you select the right products and work carefully, there’s no reason why you can’t fix a minor scratch to a high standard, without having to hire a professional.

How to remove scratches from a car (step-by-step)

By following our car paint scratch removal guide, you should be able to repair superficial or minor car scratches at home using only toothpaste and a microfibre cloth.

  • Start with a clean, dry car. If you catch any dirt or debris whilst repairing the scratch, you could risk making the damage worse.
  • Take a damp microfibre cloth and apply a small amount of toothpaste (around the same size as a 2p coin). For the best results, we would recommend using whitening toothpaste, but any toothpaste should work fine.
  • In small, circular motions, rub the toothpaste into the scratch. You don’t need to apply too much pressure – just enough to distribute the toothpaste evenly across the scratched area.
  • After applying the toothpaste for a couple of minutes, thoroughly rinse the area with soapy water, ensuring there is no toothpaste left behind. Dry the area with a microfibre cloth.
  • If the scratch is still visible, you may repeat the process, ensuring you rinse and dry the area thoroughly between applications. If the scratch still remains, you may need to have the damage repaired professionally.

What is a good car scratch remover?

Although toothpaste can work well for minor scratches, there are dedicated car paint scratch removal products on the market that are more suitable for slightly deeper marks. These include scratch repair pens, coloured wax, car polish and scratch removal solutions.

The efficacy of these products will vary depending on the size and severity of the scratch.

How can I remove a deep scratch on my car?

If you have a particularly deep scratch on your car (e.g. a scratch that has cut right through the vehicle’s clear coat, paint and primer), we would advise having it repaired professionally.

A vehicle paintwork specialist will have the tools and expertise needed to repair the scratch to a high standard. However, repeatedly attempting to repair a deep scratch yourself using unsuitable tools or materials could further damage your vehicle.

Removing car scratches through your insurance

Various car insurance providers have different policies regarding the levels of superficial damage that can or cannot be covered by their insurance - even under a comprehensive policy.

Of course, even if such repairs are covered by your insurance provider, it’s important to consider whether making a claim for the repair costs would be worth losing your no-claims bonus.

Before attempting to claim through your insurer, you should get a quote from a local scratch removal specialist. In some cases, paying for these repairs yourself – and retaining your no-claims bonus would be the better option.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can often vastly improve the appearance of surface scratches using car polish, toothpaste - and other similar products. Although you may not always be able to eliminate the scratch completely using this method, you should at least be able to make it less apparent.

Yes, toothpaste can help to remove – or minimise the appearance of car scratches. Thanks to its mildly abrasive properties, toothpaste can be used to buff away imperfections in your car’s paint job. For the best results, we would recommend using a silica-based whitening toothpaste.

While some drivers report that applying WD-40 to a scratch on their car has improved its appearance, we would advise against trying this. This is because the lubricant in WD-40 is not designed for this purpose - and using it to remove a scratch may cause further damage to the paintwork. Therefore, we recommend using only proven scratch removal tools and methods.

There are plenty of scratch repair pens on the market which can be used to reduce the appearance of car scratches. You should be able to find a pen that matches the colour of your car at a local automotive shop or online.

However, bear in mind that these products work best on minor scratches and aren’t particularly effective when applied to deeper scratches - especially those that have cut through the clear coat, paintwork and primer.

Scratches often stand out more on black cars due to the stark contrast between the paint and base metal colour. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the scratches will be any more difficult to fix.