How to remove scratches from your paintwork

How to remove scratches from your paintwork
Ever come back from an afternoon’s shopping to find your car’s been dinged in the car park? Or maybe you’ve driven a little too fast down a gravelled road and ended up with a scratch on your bodywork?

It might seem like the odd scratch on your paintwork is simply an unavoidable part of modern driving, but that doesn’t make those unsightly scrapes any easier to stomach.

Can you fix it yourself or is it best left to a garage? Here’s our ultimate guide on what to do if your car’s been scratched.

What should I do if my car’s been scratched?

If your paintwork’s been scraped or scratched, the chances are it’s been done accidentally, either by another motorist or from stones and gravel hitting your car while driving.

If you suspect your car’s been deliberately vandalised, or it’s been more seriously damaged, you may want to file a police report and contact your insurance company to see if your policy covers vandalism.

Can I fix car scratches myself?

That depends on the scratch and how deep it goes into the paintwork. There are three layers of paintwork on your car: clear coat, base coat, primer and beneath these is the metal body panel.

For smaller surface scratches and scrapes, you might be able to fix at home with the help of either a scratch removal kit or even a humble tube of toothpaste.

If the scratch is deeper, or you’d rather entrust the job to the professionals, you might prefer to check your vehicle into a local garage. It might seem costly, but it could be the best way to help smooth out that scratch.

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How do I fix a car scratch with toothpaste?

Firstly, you need work out how deep the scratch on your car is by running your fingers over it. If your fingernails do not catch then the scratch is in the clear coat of paintwork and toothpaste may be able to help:

  1. Wash and dry the affected area to ensure that you don’t end up rubbing any debris or dirt into the scratch and making it worse. Use warm soapy water and then rinse down before drying with a clean, dry cloth.
  2. Next, take a dampened microfibre cloth and squeeze on roughly a 2p-sized amount of toothpaste. Whitening toothpaste works best but if you don’t have any then try any toothpaste you have in your bathroom.
  3. Rub the toothpaste into the scratch in a circular motion, applying just enough pressure to ensure the toothpaste is well-distributed across the affected area.
  4. Once you’ve finished rubbing out the scratches, rinse the area thoroughly with soapy water to make sure you remove any excess toothpaste and then dry with a dry microfibre cloth.

If the scratches remain, repeat the process up to two more times, being sure to rinse and dry between applications to check your progress. Don’t repeat more than twice to avoid any lasting damage to your paintwork.

How do I use a scratch remover?


If the scratch is deeper than the clear coat and has gone onto the base coat, you might prefer to leave the toothpaste in the bathroom and use a dedicated scratch removal product, instead.

If you want to try using a scratch removal product, follow these steps:

  1. First, wash and dry the affected area to ensure you don’t end up rubbing any debris or dirt into the scratch and making it worse. Use warm soapy water and then rinse down before drying with a clean, dry cloth.
  2. Before applying any scratch removal agent, you should also read the manufacturer’s guidelines and check if any buffing tool or pad is sold with the agent to use on your paintwork.
  3. Usually, you would apply around a 2p’s worth of product to the buffing pad and ensure that the product is evenly distributed around the pad to ensure even application.
  4. Next, rub the product into the affected area using a circular motion, making sure you don’t change direction, to ensure an even covering.
  5. Once you’ve finished, it’s important you don’t allow any excess product to dry on the car in case it affects the paintwork, so clean any product away with a clean microfibre cloth.

Before repeating the process, read the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you don’t over-apply and end up unwittingly damaging your paintwork.

How do I repair a deeper scratch?

If the scratch on your car is more severe and has gone deeper than the clear or base coat and into the primer or metal body panel, you may want to consider taking your vehicle into a local mechanic and letting the professionals do the job.

To help you find a mechanic you can trust, the RAC Approved Garage Network only includes garages that provide quality work and exceptional customer service, giving you peace of mind if your car needs attention.

How much does it cost to repair a scratch on my car?


That obviously depends on the severity of the scratch and how you want to deal with it. Using toothpaste to repair a minor scratch will only set you back a couple of pounds, while a scratch removal agent will cost around a tenner.

More severe, deeper scratches will likely cost a fair bit more, but could be well worth it if you want your motor looking good as new in no time.

Will my insurance pay for scratches on my car?

This depends on your policy, although the excess on many policies would be more than paying for the work yourself, meaning that making a claim is pointless.

Some insurers offer a separate scratch and dent product which allows you to get minor dents and scrapes fixed without claiming on your main policy, usually in the comfort of your own driveway.


If your MOT is due or if you would like to book your vehicle in for a full car service, you can book online with your local RAC Approved Garage today.

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