Can Car Detailing Remove Scratches?

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If you are reading this article, chances are you have found an annoying scratch on your car at some point in your history of driving. Unfortunately, it happens to the best of us and lots of visible scratches can dramatically decrease the value of a car. So, can detailing a car help to remove scratches?

Yes, detailing a car can remove light scratches and it won’t cost as much as a body repair shop. All that is needed is a good polish and lots of elbow grease. However, deeper scratches that cut through the colour coat or primer cannot be removed with detailing.

In the rest of the article, we’ll give beginners an insight into how a small scratch can be removed almost effortlessly and what to do if you have a deep scratch that can’t be removed at home.

Can Car Detailing Remove Scratches?

Detailing a car can remove scuffs and scratches provided they are not too deep.

There are three types of scratches to be aware of, these are:

  • Clear coat scratches – A light scratch to the clear coat of the vehicle.
  • Base layer scratches – A deeper scratch that cuts through the colour coat of the vehicle.
  • Primer Scratches – The deepest scratch where the bear metal of the car is exposed.

Only clear coat scratches can be removed by detailing. To identify a clear coat scratch, move the tip of your finger over it. If it is a clear coat scratch, your nail should glide straight across. If your nail catches, it’s likely a deeper scratch to the base layer.

These scratches will require buffing and some polish, but can easily be covered. There can be some variation in severity of clear coat scratches, with some requiring more work than others as we’ll discuss in the below section.

Once you hit the color coat, you’ll need to apply more paint which will likely need a specialist. If a scratch is too deep it sometimes cannot be saved and the part of the body that is scratched will need to be replaced with a new car part.

How to Remove Scratches By Detailing

Luckily, clear coat scratches can be repaired at home and it really doesn’t take a lot of effort or years of skill.

The only thing to be cautious of is the products that are being used on the paintwork and the way in which they are used. Here are our top tips for making sure those pesky scratches are removed at ease.

For the purpose of this guide, we’ll split our recommended fixes into three levels of severity:

Very Light Scratches – such as chips from grit or hedges

Light Scuffs and Scratches – such as from a key or zip

Heavier Clear Coat Damage – such as a scrape against another vehicle or object

Remember, this will only work for clear coat scratches. If you have damaged the paintwork, this article is not for you!

How to Remove Very Light Scratches

You will need:

Step 1: Spray the multi-purpose cleaner all over the scratched area.

Step 2: Spray the multi-purpose cleaner on the magic eraser and rub the magic eraser over the scratch until the scratch disappears.

Step 3: Use a microfibre cloth to dry the product and Voila! The scratch has gone!

How to Remove Light Scuffs and Scratches

You will need:

Step 1: Use a dry microfibre cloth and apply a small amount of polish to the cloth.

Step 2: Apply the polish to the scuff mark or scratch using a circular motion.

Step 3: Flip the microfibre cloth over to a side that doesn’t have the polish on and continue to rub the polish in a circular motion until the product is dry.

Step 4: If the scratches still show, repeat the process but use a rubbing compound instead of using polish.

Step 5: Use polish again to remove the appearance of swirl marks that the rubbing compound may have left.

How to Remove Heavier Clear Coat Damage

When the damage is heavier or over a larger area, you’ll need to lightly sand the area of the car to even it out.

You will need:

Step 1: Clean area of the scratch and then dry with a microfibre cloth or towel

Step 2: If your scratch isn’t easy to see, use tape to mark around the area of where your scratch is.

Step 3: Sand down the scratch using 3000 grit sand paper and then sand again using 5000 grit sand paper.

Step 4: Once the scratch has been sanded away, use a dry microfibre cloth dust away any leftover grit.

Step 5: Use car polish to rub away the mark, dry with a clean microfibre cloth.

Step 6: Use car wax to give the area a nice pristine finish, the formerly scratched area should now look as good as new! You can apply the wax with a machine buffer for lighter work.

How Much Does it Cost to Remove Scratches?

The cost of a scratch removal depends on the size and depth of the scratch.

Some scratches are so minuscule that they are pretty much unnoticeable, so that sort of scratch can be left or polished out. However, if a scratch is really noticeable then it is a good idea to get it fixed professionally.

According to Check a Trade here is a range of prices that professional car technicians charge for repairing scratches:

ItemRange – LowRange – HighAverage cost
Light surface scratch repair£60£100£80
Paintwork damage scratch repair£120£180£150
Deep paintwork scratch repair£180£240£210
Alloy wheel scratch repair£48£120£84

So according to Check a trade’s information, the average cost for a light surface scratch repair is £80, the average cost for paintwork damage scratch repair is £150 and the average cost for deep paintwork scratch repair is £210.

So, if a car technician or detailer charges close to those costs, it means they are being fair with the prices they are charging for their repair services.

However, it is important to be aware that if you have a loyalty scheme with your local car dealership, customers may be able to get a better repairs deal. So, it is a good idea to reach out to a car dealership first as they may be able to give out this repair as part of a loyalty reward scheme.

Related Questions

Can a car wash remove scratches?

No, a car wash itself cannot remove scratches. However, a scratch may not look as severe once it has been washed. It is best to wash the car and then proceed by polishing a small scratch.

Can a car detailer remove stains?

Yes, a professional car detailer can remove stains as they are equipped with special tools and products that can remove most types of stains from almost any surface or material found in a vehicle.

Can you remove scratches from a car with a buffer?

Yes, detailing experts recommend for people who are comfortable with buffing to use a rotary buffer whilst trying to remove a scratch from the surface of the paintwork.

The reason why a rotary buffer works so well when removing scratches is because it targets specific areas precisely. The wool pads that are used on rotary buffers work particularly well as this material is gentle yet harsh enough to help to remove a scratch.