How to Remove Clearcoat Scratches

Just take a look at this typical paint scratch…

This is a common key scratch on a clearcoat finish. The good news is that it can be repaired at home.

Minor paint scratches and slight marring in your car’s paint is a fact of life for all car owners. With the advent of the clearcoat paint finish, removing a minor paint scratch is quick and easy.

The purpose of this page is to explain how your vehicle’s paint finish is constructed and to show how minor surface scratches can be safely and easily removed. It just takes an inexpensive scratch repair kit and your cordless drill.

First, you need to determine if the paint scratch is fine or deep. The easy way to do this is to feel it with your fingernail. If you can’t feel it or if you can feel it but your fingernail does not catch on the scratch, you can repair it with this process.

If you can feel it, or you see the primer color or bare metal, then visit our How-to Repair Paint Chips & Deep Scratches page.

Feel the scratch with your fingernail. If your fingernail catches on the scratch you’ll need to fill it with clearcoat touch-up.

As stated above, the general rule is if you can feel the paint scratch in your vehicle’s clearcoat finish, but your fingernail does not catch, it means the damage is minor. It can be fully restored and the restoration method will be very easy.

You use a small piece of 3000 grit wet and dry sand paper to remove the scratch, then polish away the 3000 grit sanding scratches with an automotive paint polish.

3M’s Excellent Scratch Removal System

For minor clearcoat scratches that have not penetrated the color coat layer, 3M offers the best DIY fix-it kits we’ve used.

3M’s Scratch Removal System is a complete kit. It features 3000 grit sandpaper, two grades of foam polishing discs, a backup plate for your drill, and two grades of car polish to make a perfect repair.

The following 3M video shows just how easy it is to remove minor scratches yourself:

The 3M Scratch Removal System has everything you need to repair fine scratches. This is the same process professionals use, but it’s packaged for car owners. It is designed to remove common damage to your car’s clear coat, like fine scratches on the door handles, doors or trunk.

When removing a minor paint scratch from your vehicle’s paint surface, you are actually removing a very thin layer of the clear coat paint. If that sounds scary, don’t worry.

The 3M Scratch Removal Kit will help you tackle the job. You’ll just need a household drill (1200-1600 RPM) or cordless drill, a microfiber cloth, spray bottle and water.

All you need to remove unsightly paint scratches is a cordless drill and a 3M Scratch Repair System.

The Scratch Removal Process is Simple

If you’ve ever sanded and refinished a piece of furniture or patched drywall, you can make this simple repair. There are just five steps in the process. The entire project can be completed in just an hour on a small section of the vehicle.

1. Prepare the Surface — Clean and remove dirt from the scratched area.

2. Sand the Scratch — Use the abrasive pad to sand the area by hand until the scratch is no longer visible.

3. Refine the Scratch — Attach the disc pad holder to the drill and the purple compounding pad to the disc pad holder. Using a quarter-sized amount of the 3M Rubbing Compound, buff the sanded area to ensure all scratches are removed from the surface.

4. Polish and Restore Shine — Switch to the black polishing pad and apply a quarter-sized amount of 3M Scratch Remover onto the black pad. Polish area compounded to further remove scratches to level of desired shine.

5. Protect the Repaired Area — For added protection, apply a quality quick and easy car wax to the repaired area and entire vehicle if desired.

Next in our Paint Repair Clinic Series: How-to Fix Paint Chips & Deep Scratches!