June 8, 2023

How to remove hairline scratches from a car

By Bethan Harper

Featured image for “How to remove hairline scratches from a car”

No matter how cautious you are, it can be difficult to keep your car looking showroom-shiny forever. Without a little tender loving care, over time paintwork fades and light scratches can appear – especially if your daily commute involves potential hazards such as low-hanging branches on country lanes or the dust and grime found in most built-up areas. 

Sadly, a few minor scratches and dents can make your car look unloved and reduce its value.  

The good news is there are plenty of ways to remove minor scratches from your car and get it looking good as new, including some DIY options and Scratch and Dent cover. However, do bear in mind that the DIY methods aren’t guaranteed and can only be used on some types of paintwork. For guaranteed results, you might want to consider taking your car to a professional, qualified SMART repairer. However, if you are looking to save some money these hacks could be worth a go – but always at your own risk. 

Polishing your car 

If you’re wondering how you can cover minor scratches on your car, a good first port-of-call is a basic polish. Minor scratches on the surface of paintwork can’t always be removed by applying polish, but it’s worth a try. 

Not sure about the definition of a ‘minor scratch’? Run your finger over the scratch, and if you can’t feel it, that’s ‘minor’. 

First, wash the affected area with soapy water before you start, then dry it and take a fine cloth and some clear polish and gently buff the scratched area with a cloth until it becomes shiny and smooth. 

Car scratches

Also see: How to protect your car paintwork from scratches and dents

Car scratch remover pen 

Car scratch remover pens are widely available from various retailers at very affordable prices. They contain a clear resin like the topcoat of a car’s paintwork, which allows you to cover scratches.  

By running the applicator of the pen along the scratch, in accordance with its instructions, small scratches can be filled, and hopefully renders the scratch invisible. 

A word of warning: these pens are designed for quick and easy touch-ups, and the final result isn’t guaranteed. In fact, in some cases, they can make the damage look even worse, so this is definitely a ‘proceed at your own risk’ method. 

Scratch repair fluid 

If you want to address something more substantial such as getting a key scratch out of a car, you might want to try scratch repair fluid.  

To get a precise colour match, you’ll need the code of the paintwork for your car. Check your car’s documentation, and if the code isn’t there, see if it’s written somewhere inside the car itself (e.g. the glove compartment, inside the wheel well, or look for a plate located inside one of your vehicle’s door frames). 

Once you’ve purchased the correct repair fluid, take a very light abrasive pad specially designed for repairing paintwork – and gently clean away the rough edges of the scratch. Next, apply the repair fluid in a circular motion, then allow it to dry for 24 hours. 

You should also note that manufacturers’ guidelines will differ, so read them carefully. 

Respray the damaged panel 

For deep scratches that reach the paint below the topcoat, you could consider having the panel resprayed at your local body shop.  

Prices start at a few hundred pounds for a single panel but can be significantly higher depending on the size and location of the damage. 

Be aware that even if just one panel is scratched, it may be necessary to blend the paint over adjacent panels to achieve a seamless colour match. In these circumstances, costs could add up to £400 or more (We Buy Any Car, 2023). 

Close-up of small scratches

Get a full respray 

Deep scratch repairs can cost hundreds of pounds, but if your car has suffered multiple hairline scratches down to the metal, you might need to invest, unfortunately.  

A full-car respray includes sanding the body of the vehicle, removing any light scratches and dents and painting it to a high-gloss finish. 

While a respray is guaranteed to ensure a ‘like-new’ finish, it doesn’t come cheap. Prices start at around the £1,500 to £2,000 mark for a basic full respray. And depending on the make and model of your car can be up to £5k or even £10k for a specialist respray.  

Be aware that it can take anything from a few days to a couple of weeks to do the work, as it needs to be completed in a protective environment, so you’ll need to arrange alternative transportation. 

Also see: The 5 best ways to save money in 2023

Get Scratch and Dent Insurance today 

You can only buff your car’s paintwork so much if you want to keep your car fully scratch-free and gleaming, one option worth considering is a Scratch and Dent insurance policy to cover small chips, scratches and dents that can be repaired using Small Medium Area Repair Technology (SMART). These policies can help to provide you with peace of mind and protect you again the unexpected costs associated with small scratches and dents.  

It might seem like your saving money by opting to take care of scratches and dents yourself at home, but if you make a mistake or need a more professional service you could save money by insuring your car against minor scratches, dents and chips.  

We offer Scratch and Dent insurance from £15 per month, take a look at our policy to see how we can help you protect your vehicle’s paintwork.  


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