How to Get Scratches Out of Clear Coat

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Most modern vehicles are finished with a layer of clear coat. Spread evenly over the paint, clear coat adds a glossy shine to the car while preserving the color by shielding it from the sun. Unfortunately, clear coat is prone to scratching. Even if you go to great lengths to avoid scratches and abrasions, at some point you will probably be affected by them. You can easily sand out shallow scratches that do not extend beyond the clear coat.

Things You'll Need

  • Liquid dish soap
  • Correction fluid or black shoe polish
  • Ultrafine sandpaper
  • Rubbing compound
  • Car wax
  • Mix 2 tsp. of liquid dish soap into 2 cups of warm water. Stir the solution briskly until bubbles begin to form. Apply the soapy water to any visible scratches, using a soft cloth. Rub the affected areas lightly to remove any dust, dirt or debris. Sponge with clear water to rinse. Rub with a towel to dry.

  • Coat the scratch with a thin layer of correction fluid. This will make the damage more visible and will help you determine when the abrasion has been removed. Alternatively, if you have a white car, a light coat of black shoe polish may be more effective.

  • Pour 1 qt. of cold water into a large bowl. Add ½ tsp. of liquid dish soap and stir until the two are blended well. Place a piece of ultrafine sandpaper on top of the water. Push the sandpaper beneath the surface until it is fully submerged. Let the sandpaper soak for 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Remove the sandpaper from the soap solution. Fold the damp material in quarters, forming a small square. Be sure the rough side of the paper is on the exterior.

  • Place the fold of the square against the affected area. Sand the abrasion lightly. Move the sandpaper down the length of the scratch, using a steady back-and-forth motion. Rinse the sandpaper regularly to remove the debris and keep the material wet. The water will help to prevent unintentional damage to the car. Gently buff the abrasion until you can't see the white correction fluid or black shoe polish.

  • Wipe the resulting residue away with a damp cloth. The sanding will have removed part of the clear coat, leaving a dull surface behind. If the scratch is still visible, moisten the sandpaper and repeat the sanding process until the damage is no longer evident.

  • Apply a generous coat of rubbing compound to the dull area with a soft cloth. Move the cloth in small circles to polish the sanding scratches away. Rub briskly until all traces of the compound vanish.

  • Spread a thin layer of car wax over the affected area to protect the car from additional damage. Buff the wax to a high shine with a clean cloth.

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