Scratched paintwork is a hazard of owning a car - whether caused by an accident or by a vandal. But getting a scratch fixed by a body panelling professional can be expensive - so many motorists try the DIY route first.

Here we present one way to tackle a scratch. It is not the definitive method - just one among many. However, most approaches use at least some of these techniques.

Clean surface with rubbing alcohol

Use a clean cloth or wet wipes to do this.



If necessary, wet sand the surface to remove any ridges from the scratch. This means using a fine sandpaper (e.g. 3000 grit) while adding water as you go. It's a good idea to duct tape around the scratch, to prevent the sanding process damaging the undamaged surface.


Use spot putty to fill in the scratch

Then wait for the putty to dry - around 30 minutes. The longer you wait the better. The aim is to level off the scratch with the putty. Ideally, you'd have a slight dip in the putty, where the 'crown' of paint will eventually sit.


Use leveller

It's a good idea to remove any excess putty - i.e. the putty on the un-scratched areas of the paint job. Use scratch leveller fluid with a clean cloth.


Wet sand again

Use automotive sandpaper, such as 3M 3000 Grit, to sand down the rough edges of the putty. If this grit level does not work, switch to 2000 grit. This should ensure the surface is flat for the next stages. Add or squirt water over the scratch as you sand.

Clean the surface once more with rubbing alcohol (99%)


Touch up the paint

Use a pointed round brush to touch up the paintwork along the scratched area.


Wet sand once more

Use 3000 grit sandpaper to sand the paint touch-up area, squirting water as you go.



Use an electronic polishing machine with automotive polishing fluid to polish the area. You can also do this by hand.


Video examples

Below are some videos detailing some of the common approaches used by body panel professionals to deal with scratches.


Best Paint Touch-up Tricks: Mercedes G55