Car Scratch Repair

Before we get started please refer to the tools required for a car scratch repair for product suggestions.

Car Scratch Repair

A car scratch repair involves multiple steps. It starts with evening out the paint and ends with polishing to restore the shine. The number of steps will vary depending on the depth and severity of the scratch. The process here is your typical process for a car scratch repair. There will be other methods and techniques, you can use this as a baseline and tweak it or have your own process that will work for the scratch the you have on your vehicle’s paint.

Car Scratch Repair Tips

  • Always use the less aggressive tool or approach whether sanding, polishing or buffing
  • Before you work on the entire scratch, do a it in a small area or a test section first to see if you can effectively remove the scratch without taking off too much paint.
  • Sand the affected area only just enough to remove the scratch.
  • Don’t forget that as you sand you are removing paint, same goes for polishing.
  • Don’t sand on areas close to the edge.
  • If possible, use the paint thickness gauge to check the thickness of paint before and after sanding. This will give you a reading whether or not the paint will have enough clear to wet-sand or not.
  • Before you start sanding, make sure the area is clean.

Car Scratch Repair Process

1st Step – Car Scratch Repair with a 2000 grit sand paper

  • Soak the sand papers in a bucket of clean water for around 15 mins or so, add a few drops of car shampoo. You have three grits of sand paper so it is important to soak them in separate buckets to avoid cross contamination.
  • Start with a 2000 grit sand paper and wrap it on a rubber backing pad. This will help in evenly distributing the pressure as you sand. For really small scratches, you can cut the sand paper into a postal stamp size then use your finger to sand.
  • As you start sanding apply light pressure then ease up on the pressure as you finish sanding the affected area. This will help blend the affected area with the surrounding paint.
  • Always sand at an angle and not perpendicular to the scratch.
  • Remember to saturate the panel with soapy water (mix water with a few drops of car shampoo in a spray bottle) as you go so the sand paper will glide smoothly on the paint.

2nd Step – Car Scratch Repair with a 2500 grit sand paper

  • Repeat the process with a 2500 grit sand paper. Do not apply too much pressure and be careful not to over sand the paint.
  • Make sure to keep the panel saturated as you sand.
  • Wipe off then check your progress, there should be less sanding scratches.

3rd Step – Car Scratch Repair with a 3000 grit sand paper

  • Repeat the process with a 3000 grit sand paper.
  • Wipe off then check the results. The reflection under a light should be dull with no obvious sanding scratches.

4th Step – Compounding

  • Apply some compound on the yellow cutting pad.
  • Spread the compound on the surface before you turn on the polisher so you avoid splattering the compound all over the place.
  • With the porter cable set the speed to 6 and work the area back and forth then up and down.
  • Do this process each time you wet sand.
  • Wipe off excess compound with a microfiber towel.

5th Step – Polishing

  • Apply some polisher on the foam polishing pad.
  • Similar the previous step, spread the polish on the surface before you turn on the porter cable so you avoid splattering the polish all over the place.
  • Set the speed of the porter cable to 5, work the area back and forth then up and down similar to the compounding step.
  • Wipe off excess residue with a microfiber towel.

Finishing Touches

Apply wax or sealant to protect paint. Car scratch repair can be done safely at your garage, you just have to follow the proper techniques and use the right tools.


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