How To Sand Out A Surface Scratch In Your Car’s Paint

A lot of damage can happen to cars in parking lots. You get out of your new shiny car to run into a store to grab a few items and when you return you can find that someone has pushed a shopping cart into your front fender. That nice shiny surface on the fender now has a scratch in it. Here is how you can safely sand out a surface scratch in the paint on your car and restore its shiny finish before you visit an auto body shop.

You Will Need:

  • Soapy Water
  • 2000 Grit Wet/Dry Sandpaper
  • Sanding Block
  • Shoe Polish
  • Rubbing Compound
  • Polishing Wheel
  • Cold Water
  • Dish Soap
  • One-Gallon Plastic Bucket
  • Car Wax
  • Soft Rags

Prepare Surface

You should wash the damaged area on the car with soapy water to remove any abrasive dirt and grime on the surface that could cause more damage to the paint as you work.

Next, you should fill the scratch with shoe polish that contrasts with the color of the paint on the car. For example, you should use a dark shoe polish on a light colored car, or a light shoe polish on a dark colored car. The shoe polish is to make sure you don't sand down beyond the scratch and possibly cause further damage to the car's finish.

Sanding the Surface

Place the 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper on a sanding block. Mix the cold water and a 1/8th of a cup of dish detergent in a small one-gallon plastic bucket. Dip the sanding paper into the water before you start to sand. The soapy water helps to reduce friction and improve the effectiveness of the sandpaper to cut through the paint.

You should use light strokes while sanding the scratch from multiple angles to avoid grinding one spot down too far into the paint. Make sure you constantly dip the sandpaper into the soapy solution to keep the surface of the car moist and slippery, and to clean off paint residue that can cling to the sandpaper and reduce its effectiveness.

You should stop sanding once the shoe polish in the scratch has disappeared – this signals you have gotten to the bottom of the scratch.

Restoring the Finish

Put a rubbing compound made for car paint over the scratch and buff it in with a polishing wheel until the shine returns to the surface of the car. Take a soft rag and wipe over the damaged area to remove any remnants of the polishing compound.

Finally, apply a high-grade car wax over the damaged area to protect the paint and give the car's surface a nice shine.