How to Buff Out and Remove Scratches from a Black Car


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Scratched and faded black car paint doesn’t look very attractive.  All we want is to have some decent shine.

I’ve owned black cars for years and what annoyed me most was these mysterious scratches that would randomly appear.

Black cars are great but scrapes and scratches seem to appear on them as if by magic.  Scratches can look much worse on a black car.

Scratches can be caused by anything.  Branches can give you a long scratch right along the side of your pride and joy.  Snow shovels can make a real mess.

Good news!  You don’t need to be a pro-detailer to buff out and remove scratches from black car paint and make your car look amazing again.

Scratches that are too deep can’t be buffed out.  But how deep is too deep?

Any scratches in your clear coat can be buffed out.  Your clear coat is the outer layer of clear paint that’s on all modern cars.  

Some older cars didn’t have clear coat.  Cars without clear coat are called single-stage painted cars. 

Clear coat goes on top of the paint that gives your car its color.  Below that you have the primer coat that’s usually grey.  And finally, you have the bare metal body of the car.

The Water Test.  One way to tell how deep the scratch is is by using some water.  Does the scratch disappear when it’s wet?  If it does then that’s good news.  Its just a clear coat scratch which means you can fix it.

The Fingernail Test.  If the scratches are still visible when wet, you can now check if you can feel the scratch with your fingernail.  If you can’t feel the scratch you’ll have no trouble removing it.  If you can feel it you will need to wet-sand the area to make it smooth.

Whats the easiest way to remove scratches?

For fixing one or two scratches around your car you could try a scratch removing kit like these available from 3M.  

The 3M Scratch Removal Kit is excellent when used properly.  It will remove almost every type of clear coat scratch with ease.  

I can’t recommend something like this enough for minor scratches.  It comes with just enough material to fix a few small scratches.

You don’t need a polishing machine with a kit like this. 

It comes with drill attachments that do an excellent job.  And most of us have drills at home and there is no point buying a polishing machine if you don’t think you will use it regularly.

The 3M kit comes with …

  1. 3000 grit sandpaper
  2. Disk Pad Holder for your drill
  3. Purple Compounding Pad
  4. Black Polishing Pad
  5. Scratch Remover Paste
  6. Rubbing Compound

These inexpensive kits could be just what you need.  Although I recommend you also get a microfiber towel to buff off the product.

Be careful when using a drill to buff your car.  The pad can get too hot and melt.  This could badly damage your paint.  

To prevent the pad from getting too hot don’t use too much speed or pressure.  And don’t leave the spinning pad on one spot for too long.   Keep the pad moving over your paint and you won’t have any problems.

Of course, you should apply some wax or sealant when you’re done to protect your paint.

What can I do about deep scratches?

No, not all car scratches can be buffed out.  If you can see grey or white primer paint or bare metal you’ll probably need to call a professional body shop to get their opinion.  

Deep scratches are harder to fix because you need to use touch-up paint. 

It is possible to do it yourself but I will explain that in a different article.

Read more:  How to fix paint chips

What tools do I need to remove scratches?

If you don’t want to buy the 3M kit you’ll need you’ll need some fine-grit sandpaper to fix the scratch and some Polishing Compound to buff out the sanded area.

Most professional detailers use 3M automotive sandpaper 3000 grit.  It’s extremely well made and very durable sandpaper.

If you just have a couple of scratches around your car you can probably do it all by hand.  No need for a polishing machine.  

Although it will be a little tiring because it can take some time to buff out the sanding marks.

I also like to use some 3M tape to mark the area I’m fixing.  This is because it gets harder to see as you work on it.

How to prepare your car for wet sanding

Sanding automotive clear coat is easy to do.  But it’s a good idea to prep the area properly so you don’t add further marring or scratches to your paint.

Your car should be fully washed and dried.  

If the paint around the scratch feels rough to the touch it’s worth using a clay bar to make it super smooth. 

The claying (or clay baring) step is very straightforward but it’s an optional extra step for those of us who like to go the extra mile and do a perfect job.  

The reason claying your paint could be helpful is because the roughness is bonded contamination that could become dislodged when sanding or polishing and will scratch your paint.

Tips for wet sanding

Sanding the scratch is the key to getting rid of it.

For fixing a few scratches you can sand by hand.  For more damage, you can use sanding discs attached to a polishing machine or a drill.

You’ll need some fine-grit sandpaper to fix a scratch by hand.  3,000 grit is good for most cases.  

Use a spray bottle of water to keep the area wet.  Sand the scratch evenly.  Use the same amount of pressure all over the scratch.  And don’t let it get dry.

Your goal is to make the surrounding area level with the scratch.  You know you are done when you can no longer see the scratch when the paint is dry.

The area will start to look very faded and cloudy.  This is normal.

Compound and Polish is used to fix the sanding marks.

 

How to repair a scratch with a DA Polisher

If you have a Dual Action Polishing Machine you will get the job done much faster.

You can buy some sanding discs to use on you polisher but I think its safer to sand the area by hand.  Sanding discs can cut thorough your clear coat way too quickly for my liking.

Your polisher will come in handy when it comes to buffing out and polishing the sanding marks.

Use a cutting pad such as Chemical Guys Orange Cutting Pad with your cutting compound of choice.

If you are not fully satisfied with the results or you still have some haziness in the paint you want to get rid of, use a finishing polish and a soft finishing pad like the Chemical Guys Red Pad.

Read More : Best Polishing Pads for Black Cars

 

How to repair a scratch by hand

It’s possible to fix a scratch by hand.  It just takes a little longer than using a polishing machine or a drill attachment.

It might be a good idea to hit the scratch with 5000 grit sandpaper after you have hit it with the 3000 grit.  5000 grit is extremely fine sandpaper.  It will restore some of the shine created by the 3000 grit and make the compounding stage much easier.

Once the scratch has disappeared you can use some compound such as Meguiars Ultimate Compound and a microfiber pad to restore most of the shine.

You’ll need to spend some time working the compound into the area to remove the sanding marks. 

Once the compound starts to dry out it stops working so buff it off with a microfiber towel and start working again with more compound.

If you want even more shine you can use some polish such as Meguiars Ultimate Polish to really make it pop.  This polish can restore the glass-like look to your paint.  It also contains some glaze which makes black cars look great.

 

Final Step

You should wax the area once you have repaired the scratch.  But why not wax your whole car while you are at it.

Car wax will protect your car from sun damage and will even help prevent dirt from sticking to your paint so it will be easier to wash next time.

Read More: What’s the fastest way to wax your car?

Conclusion

You can fix most light scratches at home using inexpensive products. 

An all-in-one scratch repair kit is very effective once used properly.

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