Removing paint scratches: How to polish away damage easily

Removing paint

Quickly in, but difficult to get out again: Only a paint doctor can remove deep scratches from the car paint. Some damage, however, can be repaired by the driver himself.

In severe cases, only a paint shower can help, but often a pen from the accessories trade will do the trick: Paint damage can be repaired in various ways. When is which method the right one? And how do you go about it?

Removing scratches: Which method is the right one?

Is a repair kit from the aftermarket enough? Or is the scratch a case for the professional? Only one thing decides that: the depth of the scratch.

You can check it with two quick tests:

  1. Color: Is the scratch the color of the car’s paint? If it shows a different coloring, the scratch extends to the primer. It is a case for the professional.
  2. Depth: If the primer is not visible, run a fingernail over the scratch. If the nail gets stuck, the damage cannot be polished away.

Polish away paint scratches: How do you go about it?

To polish away a scratch, first clean the affected area with dishwashing liquid and warm water and then dry it with car leather. Then the scratch is sanded with a gentle abrasive.

Good results are usually achieved with paint cleaners that have additives such as nano particles or carnauba wax.


Even gentle polishes basically wear away paint due to the abrasives they contain. Therefore, proceed carefully and apply small amounts with a polishing cloth using gentle circular movements. Too much polish and too much force can damage the paint.

Paint cleaners with strong grit can do more damage to the paint than prepare it.

There is also a distinction between simple polishes or cleaners and combination products of polish and sealant. These combinations are superfluous if the car is to be sealed in the near future anyway.

Professional polishing machines are expensive and only worthwhile for specialist companies. In addition, inexperienced people quickly grind so-called holograms into the paint. To treat weathered or pale surfaces, on the other hand, the polishing machine is often the only option.

The alternative: Smart Repair

Many companies offer “Smart Repair” as an inexpensive solution. If the scratch is filled with wax, it is almost no longer noticeable. However, the damage is not really repaired. A car wash, for example, can make the scratch visible again.

A simple rule of thumb: Repair or replace the windshield? Old rule put to the test: Do you still have to break in a new car?

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Paint stores can also repair the damage without major expense, provided the scratch does not extend to the primer. If that is the case, the entire vehicle part would have to be repainted. This has its price. Especially if you want to sell a car, however, the expense can be worthwhile. Because most prospective buyers will use scratches in the paint as an argument to push down the selling price. A professional repair will take the wind out of their sails. Ask the paint store to give you a cost estimate beforehand.

Does dirt protect the paint?

No. On the contrary, when dirt particles grind across the paint, they can create scratches. Dirt also binds salts and moisture directly on the paint surface and is therefore a breeding ground for rust. So it’s not dirt that protects the paint, but a car wash every now and then.

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