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Clueless Motorist: How to Fix Minor Scratches!


I was backing out of my garage one morning in a sleepy haze when suddenly I heard the distinct sound of scratching paint. I let the bagel that had been dangling from my mouth drop to my lap and I let out a slew of expletives too vile to list.

I put the car into park, got out (now suddenly wide awake) and confirmed my fear: I had scraped the right side of my car on the innards of the garage.

Luckily I didn’t bend or dent the frame, but I was left with a scuff and a nice sliver taken out of the paint. Oh, and some extremely annoying white residue.

But still, my car is my child! My baby! Any blemish upon my vehicle is a blemish upon my very soul. I was to be doomed to live a half-life of torment knowing that I allowed such a stupid mistake to ruin my baby.

Okay, well maybe that’s taking it a little too far, but you get the idea: I was upset!


So I took her to the local auto body shop to get an estimate, where they told me it would be over $700 dollars to fix.

My bumper is road rashed from all my driving so I planned on getting it repainted eventually… but over $700? Are you kidding? For that price I could buy an entire new bumper, or even an awesome new Kate Spade bag (decisions!).

The silver lining here was that they informed me that most of the white residue could actually come off, meaning that my side fender (which was also scratched where it connects to the bumper) wouldn’t have to be repainted at all. And if they could easily get that off, then why can’t I?

I decided to take some time out and try to fix the damage, experimenting a little with different products and methods. Eventually I found a nice little routine that worked, and for a DIY job it actually turned out pretty well!

So, without further adieu, here are my steps for getting some minor scratches and blemishes off your precious ride:

1. Prep the area. Clean the area that you are trying to fix as best as you can, that way you can focus on the scratches without surface dirt getting in the way.  Rise the area first and then lather it with car wash solution (If you don’t have car wash solution on hand, simply just mix some soap and water together). Use a sponge to get all the dirt out of the area, rinse it, and then dry it off with a microfiber towel (or just a regular towel, but I highly suggest the former).

2. Bring out the nail polish remover!  If you’ve grazed something (or something grazed you) it’s usually going to be the color of whatever that object was that made contact with your vehicle (in my case, the white residue on my car was due to the fact that I grazed a white garage). That residue unfortunately can be hard to get off, even with a normal wash.

For this you’re going to want to go into your manicure kit and bring out the nail polish remover. Nail polish remover isn’t just for removing stubborn nail art, it’s also a perfect tool for getting  hard-to-remove residue off of your vehicle.

Apply the nail polish remover to a clean rag, and slowly (but with some pressure) wipe the affected area in a circular motion. If you’re lucky, you should see the residue disappear.  But if you have nail polish on like I did, yeah… that’s also going to disappear.

3. Wash down the area again: You don’t want the nail polish remover to stay on your paint, as it can actually erode it. As soon as you are done, QUICKLY wash down the area again with soap and water to get the remainder of the nail polish remover off.

4. Time for a wax! No, ladies, not for you. Car wax does a wonderful job of getting rid of blemishes that your car has, such as light scratches and annoying circular patterns. It fills in the scratches and not only evens the paint out, but protects it. If waxing your car isn’t something you are already doing, then I highly recommend making it a habit. Time consuming? Yes, but you’ll see wonderful results.

5. 3M scratch remover. Available at auto stores pretty much everywhere, 3M scratch remover fills in the scratches and bonds to your paint. Put some on a rag and firmly rub into the affected area until its dry. You may have to do this a few more times before you see the results you want, depending on the extent of the damage.

6. See the results!


As you can see from my car, all that ugly white residue has disappeared. All that’s left unfortunately is a deep scratch that I can’t really fix and a random scuff.

I will still be getting my front bumper professional fixed and repainted, but at least for the mean time the damage is less noticeable.

Oh, and if you noticed that the headlights look different, good eye! I installed my blackout headlight covers while I was prepping the car.

Hopefully this method will work for all you poor folks out there with blemishes on your own babies! Have any more tips on fixing scratches at home? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments! 


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