Will Car Detailing Remove Scratches? All you need to know.

June 25, 2024 by Sam Schlem

Can Car Detailing Really Remove Scratches from Your Car?

Your worst fears have become reality, a massive scratch has attacked your car. Whether it was from a rogue shopping cart or a fallen branch, scratches are a huge source of frustration. Now that you’re past the grief stage, you’ve moved into acceptance. You’re asking yourself, “Can car detailing remove scratches?” This guide delves into the capabilities and limitations of car detailing in scratch removal, offering comprehensive insights to give you the best advice on whether or not to take your car to a detailer.

Understanding Car Detailing

Car detailing goes beyond a standard car wash. It’s an extensive, top-to-bottom cleaning, reconditioning of your vehicle, inside and out, aiming to restore its original shine. Detailing can be split into two key areas: interior and exterior.

Interior Detailing


  • Vacuuming
  • Brushing
  • Steam cleaning
  • Glass cleaning
  • Leather conditioning

Exterior Detailing


  • Washing
  • Claying
  • Polishing the car’s body to remove contaminants and restore its glow

The Types of Scratches and Whether a Detailer Can Help

This is what matters the most; the type of scratch indicates whether a detailer can fix your car based on their level of experience:

Clear Coat Scratches

Description: Superficial scratches affecting only the outermost layer of the paint.

clear coat scratch

Impact: Often appear as white or lightly colored marks, diminishing shine but not causing significant color damage.

Repair: Easily addressed through polishing and buffing.

Paint Scratches

Description: Deeper scratches reaching the color layer of the car's paint.

paint scratch

Impact: More visible due to the contrast between the exposed undercoat and the top paint layer.

Repair: Requires more complex repair, such as reapplication of paint and clear coat but still doable.

Deep Scratches

Description: Cut through both the clear coat and paint layers, often reaching the metal or plastic body.

deep paint scratch

Impact: Highly noticeable and can lead to rust or corrosion if the metal body is exposed.

Repair: Necessitates extensive repair work, including filling, painting, and finishing. This type of scratch may need more than just a detailer.

Car Detailing Techniques for Scratch Removal

Different techniques are employed in car detailing to address scratches, based on the severity of the scratch:

Polishing and Buffing

Process: Involves the use of a polishing compound to gently remove a thin layer of the clear coat, evening out the surface.

Effectiveness: Highly effective for clear coat scratches, often completely removing them.

Paint Correction

Process: An extensive process for deeper scratches, starting with coarse abrasives and followed by finer abrasives to refine the finish. Followed by buffing and final polishing.

Effectiveness: Crucial for deeper scratches, though not always completely eliminating them.

Compounding and Touch-up Paint

Process: For deeper scratches, a detailing compound smooths out the area, and touch-up paint matches the car’s original color to fill in the scratch.

Effectiveness: Improves appearance but might not completely erase deep damage.

Limitations of Car Detailing in Scratch Removal

While car detailing can enhance a vehicle's appearance and address minor imperfections, it does have limitations, especially for deeper scratches:

  • Superficial Clear Coat Scratches: Definitely doable by a detailer.
  • Moderate Paint Scratches: Improved through paint correction but not always completely removed; could still be helped by a detailer.
  • Deep Scratches: Require professional repair, including filling, repainting, and clear coat reapplication.
  • Extensive Surface Damage: Detailing is insufficient; professional bodywork is needed.

DIY vs. Professional Car Detailing

To choose between DIY scratch removal and professional car detailing, you need to look at the pros and cons:

DIY Kits

Pros: Cost-effective, convenient, immediate action.

Cons: Limited effectiveness for deeper scratches, risk of damage if used incorrectly, skill-dependent.

Professional Services

Pros: Expertise and experience, advanced techniques and tools, better quality and durable finish.

Cons: More expensive, requires scheduling and time.

Preventative Measures and Post-Detailing Care

To maintain your car's glossy glow and minimize future scratches, consider the following tips:

  • Regular Cleaning: Prevents dirt and grit from causing minor scratches.
  • Mindful Parking: Reduces the risk of accidental dings and scratches.
  • Use Car Covers: Protects the car from elements and potential scratches.


Car detailing can effectively remove or reduce the appearance of scratches, especially superficial ones. The result depends on the severity of the scratch and the expertise of the detailer. For deeper scratches, professional repair services are recommended. Regular detailing and preventative measures can keep your car looking its best and preserve its value.

For any additional questions or to schedule a car detailing appointment, reach out to our mobile detailers.

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