How To Remove Hairline Scratches From a Car

By Leo Campbell

The good news is, there are plenty of ways to remove scratches from your car and get it looking good as new. No, not shoe polish or toothpaste. And forget about Vaseline. Those are myths.  Click To Tweet

No matter how cautious you are, it’s impossible to keep your car looking showroom-shiny forever. Over time, paintwork fades and light scratches appear – especially if your daily commute involves country lanes with low-hanging branches, overgrown hedgerows or loose gravel. Equally, if you’re a city dweller, narrow roads and tightly packed car parks are often the culprits.

Sadly, a few light scratches and dents can spoil your car’s good looks and directly affect its value. (It’s the same for alloys, hence the existence of tyre and alloy insurance.)

The good news is, there are plenty of ways to remove scratches from your car and get it looking good as new. No, not shoe polish or toothpaste. And forget about Vaseline. Those are myths. 

For the best methods to remove hairline scratches, read on, including some DIY options.

Do bear in mind that the DIY methods aren’t guaranteed, and you’re always best taking your car to a qualified garage. However, if money is tight and you can’t afford that option, then these could be worth a go – but always at your own risk. Taking any abrasive material or paint to your car can ultimately lead to more damage, but scratches themselves can also lead to bigger problems with your car’s paintwork if they aren’t addressed, so it’s worth considering which is the best option for your vehicle.

Polishing Your Car

If you’re asking how can I cover scratches on my car, the answer is manifold. A good first port-of-call is a basic polish. Light scratches on the surface of paintwork can’t always be removed by applying polish but it’s worth a try. It’s important to wash the affected area with soapy water before you start, then dry it and take a fine cloth and some clear polish and buff the scratched area with a cloth until it becomes shiny and smooth.

Not sure about the definition of a ‘light scratch’? Run your finger over the scratch and if you can’t feel it, that’s ‘light’.

Car Scratch Remover Pen

Car scratch remover pens are widely available from various retailers at very affordable prices. It’s not paint that they contain. It’s a clear resin similar to the top coat of a car’s paintwork. 

By pressing the applicator of the pen along the scratch, the gap is filled thus (hopefully) rendering the scratch invisible to the naked eye.

A word of warning: these pens are designed for quick and easy touch-ups and their efficiency isn’t guaranteed. In fact, in some cases they can make the damage look even worse, so this is definitely a ‘proceed at your own risk’ method, but if you’re planning to take it for a repair anyway and you just want to try this as a hail mary to see if you could save a few quid, then it could be worth a go.

Scratch Repair Fluid

If you want to address something more substantial such as getting a key scratch out of a car, you might want to try scratch repair fluid. 

In order to get a precise colour match, you’ll need the code of the paintwork for your car. Check your car’s documentation, and if the code isn’t there, see if it’s written somewhere inside the car itself (eg the glove compartment or inside the wheel well).

Once you’ve purchased the correct repair fluid, take a very light abrasive pad – these are specially designed for repairing paintwork – and gently clean away the rough edges of the scratch. Next, apply the repair fluid in a circular motion, then allow it to dry for 24 hours.

Note: Manufacturers’ guidelines will differ so be sure to read them carefully.

Respray The Damaged Panel

For deep scratches that reach the paint below the clear top coat, you could consider having the panel in question resprayed at your local body shop. 

Prices start at a few hundred pounds for a single panel, but can be significantly higher depending on the size and location of the damaged panel. 

Be aware that even if it’s just one panel that’s scratched, it may be necessary to blend the paint over adjacent panels to achieve a seamless colour match. In these circumstances, costs could add up to £1,000 or more.

Get A Full Respray

Deep scratch repair can cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds, but if your car has suffered multiple hairline scratches down to metal, you might need the same treatment, unfortunately. 

That means a full-car respray. This includes sanding the body of the vehicle, removing any light scratches and dents and painting it to a high-gloss finish.

While a respray is guaranteed to ensure a ‘like-new’ finish, as you can imagine, it doesn’t come cheap. Prices start at around the £1,500 to £2,000 mark for a basic full respray, depending on the make and model of your car, and can be up to £5k or even £10k for a specialist respray. 

Be aware that it can take anything from a few days to a couple of weeks to do the work, so you’ll need to arrange alternative transportation.

It’s A Fact

All cars have three layers of paintwork: a clear coat, a base coat and a primer. Below that lies the metal bodywork of the car.

All cars have three layers of paintwork: a clear coat, a base coat and a primer. Below that lies the metal bodywork of the car. Click To Tweet

Get Scratch And Dent Insurance Today

You can buff your car’s paintwork until the cows come home. But if you want to keep your car fully scratch-free and gleaming, you’re best off with good quality Scratch and Dent insurance.

This covers you for paint chips, scuffs and scratches plus small dents that are less than 30cm in length and 3mm in depth. Highly trained SMART technicians will provide any cosmetic repairs necessary, and you’ll be entitled to three claims per year. Have any further questions? Speak to one of our agents today.