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How To Remove Deep Scratches From Your Car (In 17 Steps)

Getting a car scratch is probably one of the most annoying and irritating things that can happen to your car.

It is enough to make even the calmest of people lose their cool, especially if you are not the one responsible for the car scratch.

The first thing that will mostly likely enter your mind is: how expensive is this going to be to fix?

And truth be told; depending on how deep the scratch goes it can get quite hefty on the expense side. What if we told you there were some very efficient and inexpensive ways to fix deep scratches and key marks on your car.

It isn’t always a train smash; the trick is knowing how to.

So, before you stress yourself to a hernia or rush to visit your motor vehicle repair man, why not have a look, it could save you a couple hard-earned bucks.

Understanding The Anatomy Of A Car’s Coat And Scratches

The first thing you will need to understand before you go fixing the deep scratches on your car; is the framework of your car.

There will more likely be different levels of treatment taken to fix deep scratches on your car, depending on the extent of the scratch on your car. It is therefore vital that you understand what that means for your deep scratch repair.

There are essentially four focal points to your car’s exterior anatomy that can contract surface scratches. These four focal points are: the body/metal panel, primer, basecoat, clearcoat.

Focal Point 1 : The Body Or Metal Panel

This is as deep as car scratches can get. The moment you can see the actual metal that makes up your car, it is never a good sign. These scratches run deep as they have ripped through all the other three focal points. Getting a scratch that deep will definitely mean paying your local car repair man a visit. There isn’t a product currently on the market, or at least an inexpensive one that will help you fix these kinds of scratches. They are extremely difficult to get rid of and repair on your own.

Focal Point 2 : The Primer

This is a coat applied when your car is manufactured to ensure that the coat sticks when it is sprayed on. Think of it as a protective layer. Scratches that get to the primer are also quite deep as the primer is often quite thin, protecting your body panel from getting damaged.

Focal Point 3 : The Basecoat

When your car is being painted at the manufacturer, they apply layers of colour coating. The basecoat being the first layer. This the coat that gives your car its unique colour shade. It makes your car look attractive and appealing. The basecoat is the third level of protection applied to your car. 

Focal Point 4 : The Clearcoat

If you know anything about nail polish or have ever seen anyone applying it, you will notice that a colour coat is applied first, then for some extra shine and protection, a clear coat is then applied. The same applies with your car, once the colour basecoat is applied, a second transparent clear coat is applied. This coat often gives the car its shiny glossy look and will ultimately add another protective layer towards the cars metal panel.

Now that you understand the focal points of scratch damage that your car can acquire, you can now learn how to fix and remove each type of scratch.

Your Step By Step Guide To Removing Deep Scratches From Your Car

Step 1 : Get Your Equipment Ready

Get your scratch fixing ingredients ready to go. You are going to need product. Plenty of it. Don’t worry, this will most likely still be much cheaper than taking your car in to the body repair shop.

These are some of the products you are going to need:

  • Touch up paint: this needs to match the colour panel of your cars colour coat. Paint colour for white and black cars tend to be the easiest to find. Using non-matching paint can prove to be an even bigger disaster than the scratches on your car. Preferably get a spray can. It is by far the easiest to use. Checkout some touch up paint brands.
  • Clear coat: as explained earlier this is the fourth focal point in your cars anatomy. You will need this for the finishing touches, also preferably get a can.
  • Cheese cloth: we are pretty sure that, this is not the official name for this cloth, but oh well. You should recognise this one because it actually looks like a large block of soft yellow cheese.
  • Rubbing compound: this is an abrasive which will most likely remove a bit of the paint surface, its main purpose however, is to smooth out the paint surface. This prepares the car for effective waxing.
  • Microfiber cloththis extremely soft cloth will ensure that your car’s surface is clean, and ensure it doesn’t get further scratches. If you have an old one lying around, we advise that you get a new one for this project.
  • Polish/wax applicator pads: these are used for evenly applying polish and wax on the car.
  • Scratch repair: this can be any brand of scratch repair. If you are buying a kit, your repair kit will almost always come with some
  • Painter tape: this is to stick on the newspapers you will use when adding protective layers to your car
  • Newspaper: used for protecting the cars surface after work has been done.
  • Polish: simply put, you want your car to shine and look glossy after you are done.
  • Wax: this is used interchangeably with polish and ultimately do the same thing.

Step 2 : Wash Your Car

Auto mechanic worker polishing car bonnet with wiper at automobile repair and renew service station shop

Now that you have all the equipment you need to start on your project, you need to wash your car and you need to do it thoroughly. This step is not here to simply add more work to your project.

Washing your car means you can effectively assess the extent of the scratch damage to your car’s surface. More often than not, you’ll find you have white scratches on your car.

You might find that sometimes, what you might think is a key scratch or a deep scratch is actually dirt or debris that was gathered on your car. Washing your car also helps you determine which focal point in your car’s anatomy the scratch has reached.

Also note that; if your car is dirty during scratch repairs, then you might actually cause more scratch damage to it. So, just wash it.

Step 3 : Assessing The Effect Of The Scratch On Your Car’s Focal Points.

You have now washed your car, and despite the minor scratch damages your car is looking pretty spick and span. Dry it clean with a clean microfiber cloth, or air dry it.

It is now time to assess the extent of the scratch damage. The trick here is to use your pointing finger, by scratching the edges of the scratch. This is to feel how deep the scratch goes.

If you can feel a smooth surface then the scratch has reached the metal panel, if you can still feel the scratch then you have hit the clear coat, and most likely the basecoat as well.

Usually you will be able to tell by looking at it how deep the damage has gone. If you see the body panel, which is often black then you know how deep the scratch is.

Step 4 : Smooth Out The Deep Scratches

Now that you have assessed the damage, you can begin to fix your car accordingly. The first thing you’ll now need to do is smooth out the deep scratch. Think of it as “sanding” your car to make sure the surface is smooth enough for your work to be effective.

We shall clearly describe this process in steps 5,6 and 7.

Step 5 : Use Rubbing Compound To Smooth Out The Scratch

Apply rubbing compound to the cheese cloth, and using your hand spread it evenly across the cloth. Apply the rubbing compound to the scratch in a circular motion.

Black bumper car scratched with deep damage to the paint.

Think Mr Miyagi “wax on wax off”. Try not to cover too much at once, apply the rubbing compound in small sections until you have covered the entirety of the affected area.

Continue applying the rubbing compound and rubbing each section for about 20-30 seconds.

Step 6 : Remove The Rubbing Compound

Take a spare clean cloth, this could be a clean microfibre cloth to remove the rubbing compound. After removing the rubbing compound, your car’s surface may look a little dull. Worry not, you are still on the right track.

Step 7 : Ensure All Rubbing Compound Has Been Removed

Wash the area that you have applied rubbing compound to. We cannot stress how important it is for you to get ALL the rubbing compound off the car’s surface.

Failure to do so, could lead to your next steps being compromised. Ensure the car’s surface is squeaky-clean and free from rubbing compound.

Step 8 : Using Painters Tape

You have successfully gotten this far, you should be really proud of yourself. The next section of our project is arguably the hardest part.

This is because the chances of your deep scratch being in a singular perfectly aligned straight line are highly unlikely.

You will now need to use your painters tape, to cover all the area around your scratch. That’s right, you need to make sure that the only thing left visible on your work section is the scratch itself.

You should only be able to see the white scratches on the car. Make sure you don’t cover parts of the scratch, as it will be hidden during the paint job.

If you are working with scratches that are on top of each other, and you cannot get painters tape between them, then rather work on one scratch at a time. You will not be able to remove both scratches at the same time. Use newspapers to cover the parts of the car that don’t have a scratch.

Believe us, this is for the good of your entire car. Don’t compromise here. Rather do it carefully and slowly, as opposed to creating more work for yourself later.

Step 9 : Clean Off The Scratch With An Applicator Pad

Ensure the scratch is thoroughly clean by using the applicator pads. This is very important. The scratch area has to be spotless.

Step 10 : Apply Your Basecoat Paint

After step 9, you are now ready to apply the paint. We suggest that you use a spray can here, it is just much more effective and simpler to use one.

A spray can ensuresthat you can apply more than one coat, in an even manner and all the excess paint lands on the newspapers.

Using a brush requires a very steady hand, so if you are not a surgeon; then we don’t recommend it. Apply your coats in 10-15 minute intervals.

A side note, if the scratch on your car has reached focal point one, which is the metal panel, then you might want to apply a primer, before applying the paint. If it doesn’t reach the bare metal panel, then a primer is not necessary.

Check Also this video on How To Use a Touch Up Paint Pen to Repair Car Paint Scratches :

Step 11 : Apply Your Clearcoat

You are now ready to apply the clearcoat. Ensure that the basecoat has dried out before applying the clearcoat.

Also, be aware that this coat is clear, and although it might seem like you aren’t actually applying it because your eyes cannot see it, avoid laying it on thick. Every time you apply a coat, it is there. Follow the same application technique as in step 10.

Step 12 : Pull Off The Painter’s Tape

The second you wrap up the final clearcoat layer, start removing the painters tape. You want to do this quickly but carefully. The sooner you do this the better, as often dry paint might come off with the tape and ruin the consistency in your work.

Step 13 : Applying Rubbing And Polishing Compound

Allow for a minimum of seven days to pass between steps 12 and 13.

Once the seven days have passed and the paint has done its job, itis time to reapply some rubbing compound again. Follow steps 5,6,7 to a T for rubbing compound.

For applying polishing compound, this should not be polish, but polishing compound. Apply it in same manner as steps 5.6. and 7.

Step 14 : Using A Scratch Repair Package

We advise that you shop around for a great scratch repair kit.

Most scratch repair kits will come with car sandpaper, which you will need to wet and apply to each side of where your scratch used to be.

Be careful not to apply any pressure here and use circular motions. Do not sand a section more than once, and only sand for a maximum of 10 second as this can damage your remaining surface paint.

The next two items you’ll find in your repair kit are two tubes, which both need to be applied.

Step 15 : Apply Tube One

Apply the first tube, often this will be labelled tube 1, if not then check your package’s instructions to determine which item to apply first.

Apply the contents to the clean cloth provided, and in circular motions apply to the work area. You will need to apply pressure whilst doing this. Wipe off any remaining content when done. Ensure the area is clean.

Step 16 : Apply Tube Two

Again, this will be labelled as per the package’s instructions. Apply tube two in the same manner as in step 15. Use the cloth provided to you in the package as per the instructions. These products tend to be very “pastey” so you’ll need to apply a lot of pressure to get rid of the residue.

Step 17 : Applying Polish And Wax

Lastly, you are now at the end of your project. At this point you must be feeling very accomplished and rightfully so! You are almost there.

Lastly, apply some polish to the scratch, please note this is not polishing compound, we have already used it in step 13. It is important that you follow your polishes’ rules of instruction. You can apply more than one coat of polish, preferably not more than two. Consult your polish instructions.

After applying the polish, you will then apply the wax. This will be in the exact same manner as you did your polish.

Check also our review on the best car scratch remover of 2022


You are now officially done!

Take multiple steps back and be in awe of your finished work. The scratches will no longer be visible, (unless someone actively goes searching for them).

This project works whether you are dealing with key marks, on various car colours, specifically for black cars. It also works to remove surface scratches, removes minor scratches and can fix small scratches on your car.

You might not even need a car scratch filler!

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