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How to Get Paint Off A Car: The Complete Guide

Follow This Step-by-Step Guide to Get Unwanted Paint Off of Your Car

how to get paint off a car

Finding a paint scuff on your car is one of the worst feelings in the world. It looks awful, can affect the integrity of your paint, and can detract from the value of your vehicle. But is there an easy way to get paint off a car?

Removing unwanted paint scuffs will first depend on the damage. A big scrape or deep scratch may require touch up paint or a completely new paint job. But having a professional redo or touch up your paint is really expensive. For minor marks or scuffs, you can probably remove the unwanted paint yourself.

How to Get Paint Off A Car

Paint scuffs are the result of friction between two painted objects. On your car, this usually happens when the paint is scratched by another car or something like a wall or your garage door.

When cars are manufactured, they come with several different layers of paint. Most cars have two layers of paint — the primer coat and the base coat. After these two coats, a clear coat is applied to helps protect the base coat and gives the car a glass-like shine. Because the clear coat has no color in it, it is not unusual for it to absorb the paint color of another car or object when scratched.

Removing the paint from the clear coat is fairly simple. If the paint scuff goes any deeper than the clear coat, it is advisable to have your car looked at by a professional because the integrity of the paint may be compromised. But for minor scuffs in the clear coat, you can take matters into your own hands. Here’s a step-by-step process for how to get minor paint damage off of your car.

1. Assess The Damage

First, assess the damage. Basically, you need to see how deep the scratch is. If it goes beyond the clear coat, you probably will need to touch up the paint or take the car to a professional. If the only damage is to the clear coat, you should be able to get the scuff or scratch out yourself. The depth of the scratch also determines what supplies you will need.

2. Gather Your Supplies

To start, you will need to clean your car to remove any dirt and grime on the surface where you will be working. If you have any questions on the best method and products to wash your car, check out our complete guide to washing your car.

You will also need warm soapy water, microfiber towels, a scratch remover, fine-grit sandpaper, and car wax or ceramic coating. If the scratch is deep into the clear coat, you might need a rubbing compound that is more abrasive than a scratch remover.

3. Remove Unwanted Paint

The first step to getting the paint off your car is to thoroughly clean the area. You will want to have a clean surface with no contaminants. If the area surrounding the paint scuff is rough, you can use a fine-grit polishing sandpaper to lightly smooth out the clear coat. Do not apply to much pressure and make sure you focus on smoothing the area of the paint scuff.

After you’ve cleaned and smoothed the area, apply the scratch remover product using a clean microfiber towel. Use the microfiber towels to rub the unwanted paint off. Use some pressure, but not too much, and make sure you rub in the direction of the paint scuff. If the scuff is horizontal, use horizontal strokes.

It may take several applications of the scratch remover to fully remove the paint scuff. Check often to ensure you are removing the unwanted paint, but not damaging your car’s base coat. You can check the paint colors on the rag to make sure none of your car’s original paint is coming off.

4. Check If Your Paint Needs A Touch-Up

Before you apply any wax or sealant, you should check if the scratch might need a paint touch-up. If the scratch goes through the clear coat, you may need to touch the pain up before re-applying a sealant. Check out our guide on how to touch up paint for more information.

5. Apply Car Wax Or Ceramic Coating

After you’ve removed the paint scuff, the next step is to apply a wax or ceramic coating. This adds another layer of protection to your car’s paint. If you have any questions about what car wax to use, read our guide to the best car waxes.

Make sure the area is clean and dry, apply the wax or ceramic coating, and wait for it to cure. After that, you can breathe easy — your car is looking better already!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need to cover the tires, headlights, or windows of the car when you remove paint from it?

It depends on where the paint scuff is located and if the other areas of your car are in the way. If the scuff is next to glass, plastic, or metal, covering them with painter’s tape would be the best way to ensure they are not damaged while you’re removing the unwanted paint.

How much does it cost to fix a paint scuff on a car?

On average, a professional paint repair job ranges from $150 to $1000. There are several factors that determine how much the paint repair will cost, including the location, depth, and length of the scuff or scratch. It also depends on the size, color, and model of your car.

Does a professional paint job fix scratches?

A professional paint job usually fixes scratches. To ensure the scratches are repaired, make sure to specify what you want to be repaired when they redo the paint job.

Can you use a buffer to remove paint from a car?

Though you can use a buffer to remove scuffs and scratches, keep in mind that they are bigger and designed for a larger surface area. For minor paint scuffs, you can use sandpaper, toothpaste, or a scratch remover for more targeted removal.

Can WD-40 remove scratches on a car?

You can use WD-40 to remove scratches. Apply the WD-40 to a microfiber cloth and rub the paint off. Make sure to only use WD-40 in small areas at a time and check your rag frequently to make sure that your car’s paint isn’t coming off as well.

About Haley Butterfield

Haley is a writer, reader, and life long learner. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University and enjoys spending time with family and friends. In her free time, you can find her reading the latest book, discovering new hobbies, or running in the desert.