Removing scratches from auto paint is a multi-step process that starts with leveling the paint surrounding the scratch and ends with restoring the shine. The number of steps depends on the severity of the scratch. This general guide to scratch removal will describe a typical scratch removal process. There are many techniques and tools available and you may find your own variation of this process that works for you.

This guide describes how to remove random isolated deep scratches. For overall swirl removal or fine scratch removal, you would use a polisher and a compound. If you have isolated scratches that are too deep, sanding maybe required. Saying should not be done by amateurs, if you are not an expert, proceed with cautions (at your own risks).


  1. Factory baked-on paint is usually thin and hard, that’s two HUGE negatives working against you should you be in a position to want or need to sand on factory paint. Always do a Test Spot to a small section and make sure you can get 100% of your sanding marks out before sanding further.
  2. Only sand enough to remove or improve the defects you’re trying to remove.
  3. Remember that sanding removes paint as does the compounding and polishing process.
  4. If possible, use a Paint Thickness Gauge to measure the film-build before sanding.
  5. Don’t sand too close to edges or hard/sharp body lines.

Here are the steps

  1. Start by soaking your sanding papers for at least 15 minutes in a solution of water and a couple drops of carwash solution. For very small scratches, you can also cut your sandpaper into small postage stamp size squares and use your fingertips as the backing pad. Start the process with 2000 grits sand papers. Be sure to feather out from the scratch, easing up the further you get away from the scratch. You want to sand-out the scratch which would mean removing most of the paint directly near the scratch, which is a void of paint, but feather or taper the depth of your sanding marks as you move away from the scratch as you blend the area with the surrounding paint. This will create a level appearance. Back to the backing pad. Turn the pad with the sandpaper at an angle so you’re sanding across the scratch, never straight up and down. Use the water bottle with clean water and a couple drops of shampoo to generously wet the paint you’ll be sanding. Continuously spray the paint while you work to help the sandpaper glide easily.
  2. Resand each section with the 2500 grit sandpaper wrapped around your baking pad. Keep the paint wet and work with the pad angled. Take care not to over-sand the paint. You only want to eliminate the deeper 2000 grit scratches. Wipe off the slurry and inspect the results. The sanding scratches should be finer and less distinct.
  3. Resand each section with the 3000 grit sandpaper wrapped around the backing pad. Same rules apply as with the two previous rounds. Wipe off the slurry and inspect the results. You know when you’re ready to compound by looking at the area you’ve sanded.Reflections of the overhead light  should be blurry and dull with no obvious deep sanding scratches.
  4. For the compounding and polishing steps, attach the polisher (Makita) to a portable cable and apply Wolfgang Total Swirl Remover 3.0 across the yellow cutting pad. Operate the Makita polisher at a speed of 6 and work back and forth and then up and down across the sanding scratches. If you’ve sanded more than one area, make sure you duplicate this process on every spot so the results are uniform. Wipe off the paint with a clean microfiber polishing cloth.
  5. Apply an X of Wolfgang Finishing Glaze 3.0 to the white foam polishing pad. Operate the Porter Cable Makita at speed 5 and repeat the previous step.
  6. The final step. Once the paint is polished and scratch-free, apply your favorite wax or paint sealant.polishing-before-after-photo-521529-s-original


Here is a video guide of a step by step of how to remove the scratches.

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