This guide is a super quick overview to learn how to remove scratches from cars, how to determine what type of scratch you have and how to correct it.
Learning how to remove a clear coat scratch can be easy if you understand what a scratch on a clear coat finish is in the first place.
What the heck IS a scratch anyway?
It's important to understand when you remove automobile scratches they have what is known as a “2 stage” paint finish. This means there is a base color (color of your car) and a top “clear coat”. (primer is under the base color)
The top “clear coat” is a clear urethane that has a catalyst to make it more durable than the base color coat. When you remove a scratch on the clear coat you are working on the top "clear coat" and not affecting the base color at all. Manufacturers came up with this technology to make car finishes more durable.
Scratches look white because the scratch is in the clear coat…even if it touches the base color.
A scratch in the clear coat reflects light which is the main reason it shows up so bad. Its similar to facets in a diamond reflecting light.
A car scratch in the clear coat is very similar to the facets in a diamond…light hits the edges and reflects. This is EXACTLY what is happening with a clear coat scratch, the sharp edge of the scratch in the clear coat top surface is reflecting light at you!
Good news… 70-80 % of car scratches are in the clear coat layer only.
In most cases you can remove scratches from automobiles in the clear coat permanently and quickly with the correct technique.
Here is what is happening. By polishing or a combination of wet sanding and polish you remove a microscopic amount of clear coat to "flatten the area" and thus remove the scratches that reflect light.
Its OK, you are only removing microns of clear coat.
Here is a pretty good way to quickly decide if the scratch is only in the top clear coat and can be SAFELY removed and thus not needing touch up paint.
- Pull your fingernail across the scratch… can’t feel it? It can be removed.
- Can you barely feel it? It *might* be borderline with correct technique can be completely removed.
- You can definitely feel it (or obvious scrape , chip etc) Touch up paint will be necessary.
For the 70-80% of clear coat scratches that you cannot feel with your fingernail you can permanently remove clear coat scratches with the correct technique and accessories.