Detailer Pro Tip: The Fingernail Test
Your cars exterior typically has four layers. First is the bare metal itself, which is either made up of carbon steel or aluminum. Unless someone took a sledgehammer to it, this layer will typically remain unscathed by normal wear-and-tear. Next is a bonding agent called a primer that sits on top of the metal and functions as a sort of glue that keeps the alloy and the paint stuck together. Above the primer is the base coat, which is the actual paint itself that gives your car its unique color. Finally, higher than the base coat is the clear coat, which acts as a water-resistant shield and is responsible for giving your car that glossy look.
Every time your car is scratched, it means that one or more of these layers have been damaged. If only the clear coat is affected, you can fix this yourself. However, if the scratch goes deeper into the base coat and beyond, youll have a bigger mess on your hands and might need the help of a professional detailer.
In order to tell how deep the scratch is, use the fingernail test. Simply drag your fingernail across the length of the scratch. If your nail catches, this means the scratch has gone past the clear coat. If your fingernail encounters no resistance, it means the scratch is only surface-deep and can be easily fixed.
Can Toothpaste Remove Scratches
can remove surface scratches from painted surfaces with toothpaste. While not completely gel , standard toothpaste , has a thin layer of grit that helps eliminate scratches. The real thing may only have scratches on the clear coat that surround your actual paint as opposed to minor scratches that are visible on the scratch paint.
Our Review And Testing Process
First, our review team compiled information on all of the most popular car scratch removers on Amazon. Then, we narrowed down the top five contenders and purchased each product to test in person.
Fortunately for the purposes of our review, one of our team members had scraped their car against a cement pillar in a parking garage prior to testing. The scrape was large enough to test out all five products. There were scrapes on the door as well as the corner of the front bumper.
For each product below, well cover the overall customer experience according to online reviews, explain what comes with the product, and share our findings from our scratch removal test. We also considered the following factors when reviewing each product:
- Ease of use: Some car scratch removers are easier to use than others. For a particular product, were we able to easily understand how to use it and apply the proper technique?
- Effectiveness: What kind of car scratches did the product remove, and how did the car look afterward?
- Leftover residue:Car scratch products tend to leave residue after the buffing process. How much did the product leave, and did it make the car hard to clean?
Before testing, we thoroughly washed the scratches on the car to get rid of any dust or residue from the cement pillar. We then used a cordless drill and a single type of polishing pad to test each of the products .
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White Paint Is Almost Impossible To Match
To the untrained eye, all white cars may look equally white. However, the fact is that there are thousands of shades of white, and some can only be told apart with specialized equipment that can measure the individual wavelengths of the light that is reflected by all the of the ingredients and pigments that went into making up the entire paint volume. An analysis of this nature can thus determine the purity and particle size of the titanium dioxide powder, which can differ between production batches and suppliers.
The color white is essentially a blend of the several million shades of all the colors and hues that humans can see. So when a paint manufacturer mixes up a batch of white paint to match a previous batch, he has to be certain that his suppliers have supplied him with gums, resins, solvents, and pigments that are identical in purity, composition, and molecular weight than the previous batch they sent him, since color differences in say, the resins and gums that go into the paint can influence the final hue.
Consistent quality is particularly important in the case of the white pigment powder, since larger or smaller particle diameters will reflect light differently, even though all the other ingredients may be identical to previous batches. So to avoid large variations in the final color of their products, paint manufacturers have very strict quality requirements to ensure color consistency, but even so, some variation in color is unavoidable.
Are Car Scratches Covered By Insurance
If you are driving carefully and someone from the front is driving towards you hit your car and got some scratches. In that case, your comprehensive insurance comes handy and all the expenses will be covered from the opposite partys insurance claim. But if your car gets scratched by normal wear and tear as a dog sat on the roof and hood or due to heavy snowfall then it wont cover under insurance.
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How To Remove Barely There Car Scratches
Its no secret that car paint scratches easily. Ever set a grocery bag on your roof, hood or trunk lid and then slide it off? You know the result: Instant scratches.
But dont freak out. You might be able to remove these minor paint scratches yourself in less than an hour and for less than $30. To see if your scratches qualify for this DIY repair, run your fingernail across the scratch. If your nail glides across the scratch without catching in it, its a minor scratch that will polish out. But if the scratch catches your fingernail, its a job for a body shop.
If your scratch qualifies, pick up 3,000-grit sandpaper, rubbing and polishing compound, and polishing pads. Youll also need a portable drill or dual action polisher unit. You can buy most of the components off-the-shelf at any auto parts store. Or you can buy a complete scratch removal kit.
You may have heard about the toothpaste method for removing scratches. This only works for really shallow scratches. Toothpaste is just as abrasive as 3,000-grit sandpaper and works as a polishing compound. If you dont have the necessary tools and materials, this is a great option to remove small scratches.
Tools Youll Need
How To Identify Your Scratch
Most shallow and medium scratches can be quite hard to tell apart. If you spot a scratch on your car but can’t tell how deep it is there is an easy method to test this.
Pass your fingernail over the mark. If your fingernail gets caught, this is a medium scratch at the very least.
With most deep scratches you’ll see a line which is a different colour to your car. That is the primer or metal itself showing through, depending on the depth of the scratch.
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What Kind Of Scratches Can Be Buffed Out
In the automotive industry, there is a RULE of THUMB. If your thumb cant catch the scratch then it can be buffed out easily using Toothpaste as its only on the clear coat of paint and if not then you need to go out with a car scratch repair kit or repainting because its way too deep to buff out.
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Most Complete Scratch Remover: 3m Scratch And Scuff Removal Kit
If you want a more comprehensive kit, 3M offers a Scratch and Scuff Removal Kit that comes with plenty of tools to get the job done properly. Each kit includes packets of 3M Rubbing Compound and 3M Scratch Remover, a foam pad, and a fine 3000-grit abrasive square. The kit is designed to restore shine and gloss to lightly scratched and scuffed painted areas of your vehicle and doesnt require any tools. Its safe for use on any standard vehicle clear coat, but its worth noting that this is for more advanced users. Youll want to follow the detailed instructions very carefully when using this kit.
The extremely fine 3000-grit abrasive square features an aluminum oxide abrasive that cuts fast and lasts a long time. After using the abrasive square, you can apply and wipe off the Rubbing Compound and Scratch Remover to restore shine and gloss to your paint.
The 3M Scratch and Scuff Removal Kit is ideal for removing light marks that occur during everyday driving, such as fingernail scratches, light scuffs from contact with other objects, brush marks from car washes, and more.
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How Do Paint Scratch Remover Products Work
Paint scratch removers are all similar in concept they either use some form of abrasive to level the scratch or some type of filler to mask it. A perfect form of the abrasive scratch removal would be Torque Details Reverse Scratch Remover, while an example of a filler would be a scratch removal pen. Most professionals prefer the abrasive option, since it permanently removes the scratch rather than just masking or in other words hiding it like fillers and scratch removal pens.
How To Remove Scratches From Your Cars Paint
Depending on the severity of the scratches, you will be employing different methods to rectify these issues. A light scratch on a car door will be rectified using different methods to those used to fix a deep scratch on the car. Below we will discuss how to remove minor scratches from a car and make suggestions on how to buff out bigger scratches on your car, too.
An easy way to tell how severe a scratch is is with the nail test. If your fingernail can “grab” or get “stuck” in a scratch, it is classified as a deep scratch. These cannot be removed with buffing and polishing. If you can’t feel the scratch with your fingernail, then the scratch is light enough to be corrected. However, the depth of the paint can play a role, since polishing is literally the removal of a layer of surface paint. Thus, if there is too little paint remaining and you try to remove the scratch anyway, you could go down to bare metal or otherwise compromise the integrity of your paint finish. If there is plenty of paint, wet sanding can be resorted to instead of spraying.
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How Does Toothpaste Remove Deep Scratches From Car
Toothpaste can be used to remove small, shallow scratches from your car if theyre just in the clear coat and havent pierced right down to the paint.
The abrasive quality of toothpaste particularly whitening toothpastes is often enough to smooth out the slight jagged edge of a small scratch. It isnt enough to deal with scratches that have damaged the paintwork itself, but if you just have a scratch on the surface, wiping it down with toothpaste might help fix it.
Why Do Black Cars Show Scratches So Easily
Contrary to popular belief, black paint doesnt get damaged any more easily compared to other colorstheyre all made from the same formula. Every time your vehicle gets scuffed, however, it leaves a white mark behind. This doesnt show as much when your car has a lighter paint job because the scratch simply blends in, but the problem with darker coats, especially black, is that the high contrast makes any marks more visible.
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Get Help With Paint Transfer Removal From A Mechanic On Justanswer
Although The Drives detailed how-to guides are easy to follow, a rusty bolt, an engine component not in the correct position, or a messy oil leak can derail a project. Thats why weve partnered with JustAnswer, which connects you to certified mechanics around the globe, to get you through even the toughest jobs.
So if you have a question or are stuck, and talk to a mechanic near you.
Types Of Car Scratches
There are three types of scratches that can affect a car panel: shallow or surface scratches, medium or basecoat scratches and deep scratches.
- Shallow scratch: a scratch to the clear coat
- Medium scratch: a scratch through the clear coat and into the basecoat
- Deep scratch: a scratch into the primer or to the metal of the car panel
To understand the different types of scratches you also need to know about the layers that make up a car panel on most cars:
- Metal: the car panel itself beneath all the paint
- Primer: primers are the most common undercoats used when refinishing car bodies. They’re used to build up and level feathered areas or rough surfaces and to provide a smooth surface for paint
- Basecoat: the paint which gives the car its colour
- Clearcoat: a layer of paint with no pigment, which acts as a protective layer to the undercoats
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You Don’t Have To Be A Car Detailing Expert To Remove Scratches We Take A Look At The Best Car Scratch Removers Available Today
If you have unsightly scratches marring your cars paint, dont go straight to the body shop. Depending on how deep the scratch is, its possible you can remove it with a high quality scratch remover and some elbow grease. For most light scratches that are on the surface of your car and on the clear coat, these products will work wonders. You might even think its magic, just how quickly and easily the scratch disappears. But for deeper scratches, ones that you can feel with your fingernail, theres a good chance a scratch remover isnt going to work. Those scratches have actually damaged the paint underneath the clear coat, which means youll need a professional body shop or touch-up paint.
Although all car scratch removers require a bit of manual labor, most are affordable and straightforward to use. You dont have to be a car detailing expert to remove car scratches, just make sure you pick the right product for the job.
For more information on the best car scratch removers, refer to our table of contents.
Picking The Right Paste
However, buffing out scratches and scuffs with any old toothpaste won’t cut it. NC Consumer, along with other sources online, says that whitening toothpaste is best.
Whitening toothpaste works because of its rougher, grittier texture. Though you might not feel a difference in your brushing routine, it makes a significant difference when used on your car’s paint. Whitening toothpaste contains small, barely discernible abrasives, ones that similar to the abrasives found in car polish. As you gently rub the toothpaste against your car, the abrasive action removes tiny layers of film and clear coat, polishing away those ugly marks and leaving a glistening mirror shine.
If you’re worried about using the wrong toothpaste or want to buff up your entire car , you could opt for some clay bars or a detailing kit, which do a great job getting your paint job as smooth as glass.
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Can You Paint Over A Car Scratch
If the car paint scratch is not too deep and severe then yes, it can be filled using paint. Never use a brush or spray bottle to paint the scratched area because it will only make things worse. Use a pointed needle or toothpick to fill the scratch. And, dont forget to look at the paint code mentioned in your cars right door or book manual before choosing the colour.
Mothers California Gold Scratch Remover
Mothers California Gold Scratch Remover truly is a budget pick if you really need to save $10. It’s nowhere near as effective as Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound, but then again, this isn’t a compound. It’s a polish designed to fill in very light scratches around door handles, or a minor scratch on a car’s paint on other areas. Yes, it works on surface scratches, but it will not work miracles. If you’ve got tougher, deeper scratches on your hands, California Gold Scratch Remover probably isn’t the right product.
If you do have fine scratches in some typical areas of the car, we noticed them fill in quite well after following the manufacturer’s directions. For less than $10, it ain’t too shabby to remedy a minor car surface scuff mark.
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Whats The Difference Between A Scratch And A Crack
If you didnt already know, a windshield typically features two sheets of laminated glass with a plastic layer in-between them. If the damage to your windshield penetrates the outside layer, its a crack, and if it doesnt, its a scratch.
While you might be able to reduce the appearance of a crack using a windshield repair tactic, you wont solve the problem completely. If one is left alone, its likely to spread.
This will not only further impede your visibility but may compromise the integrity of the windshield as well.
Think of a scratch as basically, a groove etched into your glass. By filling in that groove with a clear substance and polishing the surface afterward, you effectively remove the scratch.