DIY: How To Fix Car Scratches for Only $20

clear coat scratch

As you can see from the picture above, the scratch on this blue Volkswagen Passat was long and deep. Bodyshop wanted to charge the owner $450 for removing it. That is a lot of money for removing a clear coat scratch. In this post, I will show you how you can remove this scratch for only $20.

This repair is extremely easy to do. It includes sanding, rubbing compounds, and polishing compounds. I recommend applying wax at the end to seal the repair. It will take you no more than an hour to complete it.

Items You Will Need:

  • Wet/dry 2,000 grit sandpaper
  • Prep solvent – It removes oils, road grease, dirt, car wax, and other surface contaminants and also improves adhesion to the surface.
  • Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound – You can use any rubbing compound you like, just make sure it is clear coat safe. Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound is the best car scratch remover I’ve ever tried. It removes light-to-deep clear coat scratches, swirl marks, stains, and heavy oxidation in just a few minutes. It’s clear coat safe and inexpensive.

Optional Items:

  • Microfiber Towel – Avoid using other materials such as bath towels, paper towels, or washcloths, as they might leave scratches on the clear coat.
  • Applicator Pads – These pads are used to apply rubbing compound, polish, and wax.
  • Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish – Use your favorite polishing compound. I like Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish because it uses diminishing abrasive technology, meaning the tiny abrasives break down gradually as you rub. The paint color will look bolder and brighter with a smooth, sleek shine. It is high quality, inexpensive, long-lasting, and clear coat-safe.
  • Meguiar’s Tech Wax – Use your favorite wax. I like Meguiar’s NXT Generation Tech Wax. This product is amazing because not only does it give the deepest and clearest shine you’ve ever seen, but it also acts as a paint sealer giving your car long-lasting protection.
  • Dual Action Sander/Polisher – I found a nice beginner polisher on Amazon for a reasonable price that will give you amazing results. There are a lot of professional polishers, but they cost over $200. This Black & Decker polisher got great customer reviews.

Step 1: Wash the Area

Wash the area being repaired with warm water. Follow it with pre-solvent.

Step 2: Sanding

Some people are worried about sanding the clear coat because they think they’ll make it worse. There is nothing to worry about. That is what professionals at the body shop do.

They start by sanding the scratch with wet/dry 2,000-grit sandpaper. This sandpaper is very fine and is specially made for sanding clear coat. I recommend wet sanding vs dry sanding.

Soak wet/dry 2,000 grit sandpaper in cold water for 10 min. Then spray the scratch with water and start carefully sanding the clear coat. Make sure to use a lot of water. It might take a few rounds of sanding for the scratch to go away.

sanding clear coat

Keep checking the surface for smoothness. Avoid sanding too much clear coat. If you see paint on the sandpaper, you’ve sanded too much.

sanding clear coat

In the picture below, you can see that the scratch is gone and the surface looks dull. Because of the light, it looks like the paint is gone and the area is gray now. In reality, the paint layer was intact.

sanding clear coat

Step 3: Rubbing Compound

The surface will get its shine back after we use a rubbing compound. Rubbing compound will remove small sand scratches from the clear coat. You can do it by hand or with a buffing machine. 

Place a small amount of the compound into the soft applicator pad. Rub over the dull area. If you are doing it by hand, keep rubbing it until the paint looks shiny. Wipe off the residue with a microfiber cloth.

applying rubbng compound

If you are using a machine set it at 1,800 rpm.  It might take you a few rounds. Keep moving the buffing machine to avoid paint burn. It is very easy to get paint burned if you keep polishing in one place.

rubbing compound

Step 4: Polishing Compound

Apply a small amount of polishing compound with an applicator pad. Keep rubbing it until the clear coat gets shiny again.

applying polishing compound

If you are using a machine, set it at 1,000 rpm.

applying polishing compound

Step 5: Wax

Re-apply wax to seal the repair. Wipe off the residue with a microfiber cloth.

remove residue

Final Result:

As you can see the scratch is gone and the surface is shiny again.

final result

1 thought on “DIY: How To Fix Car Scratches for Only $20”

  1. Hi,
    I have never done this, so thanks for the instruction. However, I have a question: Don’t you have to apply some clear coat since you sand it away?


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