Fix Clear Coat Scratches

Any search on how to fix clear coat scratches will deliver a mind blowing amount of opinions and options. From clear coat touch-up pens to clear coat scratch repair kits. Not only will you be faced with many "tools" to deal with the unwanted clear coat scratches your car will collect, but endless opinions as to what is the best method period.

hairline clear coat scratch

But what if I told you that not every scratch in your clear coat can be fixed or should be fixed?

And as I begin to unwind your thinking, are you sure you want to learn the best way to fix clear coat scratches, or do you really need to learn the best way to fix car paint scratches.

After all, aren't those unwanted scratches in your car paint...or are they really in your clear coat?

What is the difference between clear coat and car paint anyways?

The fact that you found this page referring to fixing clear coat scratches strongly suggests that you may have at least some clue as to the difference between clear coat and car paint.

Fix Clear Coat Scratches:
My "Go-to" scratch repair kit

Turtle Wax has put together what I consider the perfect kit for anyone looking to fix clear coat scratches. Further down this page I will provide Q. and A. covering the things about clear coat and car paint that you don't know to ask.

Just know that this kit contains mini-versions of the very products and tools I use as a professional to fix car paint scratches as well as clear coat scratches. (these are actually one in the same and you can read more further down this page)

Turtle Wax T-234KT Premium Grade Scratch Repair Kit

Fixing Car Paint Scratches:
What you need to know first

When you examine your car you will identify more and more specific scratches that are what is considered Random Isolated Deep Scratches (RIDS).

Unlike the overall appearance of your car's paint surface, the kind of scratches we are discussing here are distinguishable scratches that are deeper in nature and stand out to catch your unwanted attention.

What you need to know is that not all scratches are created equally, and every scratch itself will vary from one end of the scratch the other end.  I am referring specifically to the depth and width of the scratch.

From hairline scratches that are as thin as they are deep, to gouges in the paint that can be very deep and very wide in appearance.

Due to the fact of the nuances of every car paint and clear coat scratch you will come across, there simply is no single trick or method that will fix every scratch, in every situation, on every car.

Each clear coat scratch will truly represent its own unique challenges that will manifest as you attempt to fix clear coat scratches.

And it is for this reason that I consider the Turtle Wax car paint scratch repair kit the best chance you have in fixing clear coat scratches or car paint scratches.

Turtle Wax Car Paint Scratch Repair

Turtle Wax clear coat scratch repair kit

Paint Clarifying Compound: I start with this as I think this is exactly where you should start as a beginner. Due to your lack of inexperience, you will not know exaactly what you have come across and therefore will also not know exactly what it is going to take to fix the paint scratch you are looking at.

Some car paint scratches are not actually scratches, but what I call "skid marks" that look like a traditional car paint scratch, but are actually made from an object rubbing up against your clear coat and leaving some material behind.

Think of these as skid marks on the pavement that is really tire rubber left behind. These marks are more about removing the "transfer" left behind, rather than an actual scratch that has been made into the clear coat.

Using the Paint Clarifying Compound first will allow you to quickly assess what you are dealing with.

Sanding Discs: Wet sanding is the most aggressive form of paint correction and a very effective way to fix clear coat scratches that can actually be fixed. Some clear coat scratches can only be diminished so they are less visible.

As a professorial, I buy full sheets of sand paper in varying grits. This kit comes with these very handy small sanding discs that include 4 different grits for sanding.

The concept of the sanding discs is the same if you were to sand wood to remove defects in the wood prior to painting or staining. You start with the most aggressive grit needed, then transition down to finer and finer grit until the blemish is either completely gone, or has been diminished.

This is similar to wet sanding car paint or clear coat - except that once you have finished sanding with the finest grit, you then use the Paint Clarifying Compound to further remove any sanding marks while simultaneously restoring all depth and shine to the clear coat or paint.

Spray Lubricant: This lubricant is used by spraying the surface first to allow less friction when sanding the clear coat scratch. It also allows the clear coat material to "wash away" as you are sanding, thus helping to keep the sanding disc from getting clogged up with the clear coat material.

Clear Coat Touch-up Pen: This is one more added bonus to this scratch repair kit. If you accept that every paint job is actually finished with a clear coating, then it does make sense to perform any "touch-up" with the same "color" (or lack of) as the surface you are attempting to treat.

While you could just as easily use traditional car touch-up paint that contains the same color as the color of your car, the reality is that you are not actually working on the color coat, but a color coat that has been finished with a clear coating.

I would use this clear coat touch-up as a last resort. Or if you find yourself incredibly unmotivated and want to take the route of least resistance by applying some clear coat to the scratch and hoping for the best.

This touch-up pen will prove difficult to use since the clear coat liquid will come out too fast and much to actually finesse the moment. It will also prove frustrating in attempting to apply this to any panel that is not completely horizontal. Gravity will have its way with this clear coat liquid as you attempt to use.

If you do use it and are not satisfied with the results, you can remove all the clear coat touch-up suing acetone based nail polish or acetone itself.

Fixing Clear Coat Scratches:
What to do

Step 1:

As stated above, I think you should start with the Paint Clarifying Compound to assess the damage first. Use a clean micro-fiber cloth (or any cloth of your choosing knowing that some cloths have the ability to do their won type of damage to your clear coat) and a pea size drop of the compound to rub very hard and aggressive in an attempt to "polish away" the scratch you are trying to fix.

As you rub, pay attention to see if the scratch is changing in appearance. If the scratch ends up being a skid mark and not a scratch, the skid mark will begin to lighten up and eventually disappear.

If it is a very shallow and light scratch, it will also begin to diminish it its appearance as you rub back and forth. Many so-called experts will teach you to never due this in a circular pattern as this will induce swirl marks.

This is mostly a false statement and is a result of people using terms incorrectly and not teaching from actual real-world experience. It is possible to make a swirled pattern in your clear coat if you use a cloth that is rough and dry.

It is not the pattern in which you are rubbing that is the problem - it is more about your bad judge in cloths. It is for this reason I recommend a micro-fiber cloth.

Step 2:

If the Paint Clarifying Compound does not remove or diminish the clear coat scratch, then it is time to be more aggressive with the sanding discs. Start with disc number 1 and sand the scratch in a back and forth motion after spraying the area with the lubricant first.

Refer to supplied manufacturers directions to start with. I recommend sanding the scratch with each disc, and subsequent disc approximately 20 times. (back and forth would be counted as a single time) Applying enough pressure to feel that the abrasives are cutting into the clear coat (yes, this will be very scary to most of you)

Continue to spray more lubricant as needed to allow more rubbing and allow the lubricant to wash away the material you are sanding.

Darren's Note: If you have a car that is older than 15 years, I would reduce sanding times to half the suggested amounts.

Fix Clear Coat Scratches Summary

having made it this far down the page would strongly suggest you are among the elite of society. A person willing to put in the necessary time to become a mire educated person and car owner.

If I could, I would give you a badge of honor to recognize your patience.

I hope you have picked up some useful tips if you feel motivated enough to fix the clear coat scratches in your paint. If you take the time and effort to fix things as they happen, you will be surprised at how long your car can last and remain beautiful while lasting!

I wish you much success in your detailing efforts!


Darren Priest

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