Types Of Car Scratches & Repairs Explained


In this article you will learn:

  • The different types of car scratches and which products to use to repair them

  • How to buff out scratches on your car exterior to correct and restore your paintwork

  • When to call a professional detailer

Maybe you got a new scratch on your car from a low-hanging branch, or you noticed a lot of light scratches all over the paint. You may not know exactly what those marks on your car are, but you do know that you want them removed, and soon.

If you're a new car owner or you’re new to car maintenance, it can be a real challenge to determine what kind of scratches you have on your car and how difficult they are to remove. Some deeper scratches are easily fixed with a scratch removal kit, while other, deceptively light scratches and swirls may require more time and effort or even a trip to the body shop.

In this guide, we’ll describe the different types of scratches you can get in your car’s paint, as well as how you can remove them. Your vehicle will look showroom-fresh in no time!

Localized scratches

These scratches that are the most noticeable when looking over your vehicle. Localized scratches occur from minor mishaps, like brushing against a pole or getting hit by a runaway shopping cart. They often appear white on the surface of your car from the damage to your clear coat, causing this normally transparent layer to become visible over the top of your base coat.

Sometimes, these scratches appear black, or a different color than your vehicle’s paintwork. This is because of the paint transfer from the vehicle or object that brushed up against your car, leaving pigments embedded in the surface of your clear coat. Localized scratches may look serious; but, in reality, they’re typically nothing more than minor scratches that you can repair yourself with a scratch removal product. We recommend Turtle Wax Scratch Repair & Renew. This restorative rubbing compound is designed with special abrasives that align themselves under pressure to smooth any scratch in your vehicle’s paintwork. The formula can take on deep scratches as well, so don’t worry if you aren’t completely certain of the imperfection’s severity. As long as your fingernail doesn’t get caught in the scratch, you can remove it at home.

localized scratches

How to repair localized scratches

Start by applying a quarter-sized drop of Scratch Repair & Renew to a folded microfiber cloth. Then, apply this cloth to the scratched area of your paintwork, and rub with light pressure back and forth over the defect for 30 seconds. Turn over your microfiber towel and wipe away any excess product, and check your work. If the scratch is gone, then you’re done with your paint restoration! However, if you’re dealing with a deep scratch on your car, you may need to repeat this process up to 4 times to complete remove the imperfection from your clear coat. Follow up your scratch repair with a polish and wax to protect and shine your newly restored paintwork.

applying scratch repair & renew


Swirls are light, uniform defects that are usually present all over the surface of your vehicle. These small scratches typically result from improper washing techniques, such as wiping your car with a dry towel when it’s dusty or using a cloth with rough seams or edges.

Although they aren’t as severe as localized scratches, swirls can be a lot more time-consuming to repair because there are so many of them across the surface of your vehicle. What’s more, you’ll want to use a dual action polisher or a rotary buffer in order to repair all these scratches at home. If you don’t have one of these handy machines, consider investing in one to save hundreds of dollars in detail fees and take care of scratches at home like the pros. If the swirls are difficult to make out in your clear coat, then an all-in-one solution like Hybrid Solutions Polish & Wax should be enough to repair the damage while adding a new layer of protection to your clear coat.

If the swirls are more noticeable on the surface of your car, you’ll need a more heavy-duty polish like Hybrid Solutions Pro 1 & Done Compound to remove them. This professional-grade polishing compound removes scratches and defects of any severity by simply adjusting to the strength of your cutting pad, so it’s the only polish you’ll need on your shelf!

hybrid solutions ceramic polish & wax

How to repair swirls

Apply four drops of polishing compound across a heavy-duty cutting pad, like our Yellow CCS Cutting Foam Pad. Then, apply the pad to one 2’ x 2’ panel at a time, working in a circular motion to remove the swirls from your paint finish. Once you’ve removed the imperfections in your clear coat, switch to a light, finishing pad like our Black CCS Finishing Foam Pad to buff out your finish to a deep luster. Follow this treatment with a wax like Hybrid Solutions Pro Flex Wax to restore your vehicle’s protective coating.

hybrid solutions pro 1 & done compound

Spider webbing

Finally, the elusive spider webbing. This type of scratch is so light, you won’t even realize it’s there unless you’re looking for it. Check for fine, uniform lines where the sun hits the surface of your car. Those marks are called spider webbing, notorious for resembling a spider’s web. These defects are caused by acid rain, exposure to harsh UV rays and other environmental factors that cause tiny cracks in your clear coat.

Unfortunately, spider webbing isn’t something you can fix at home. You’ll need to take your car to your local detail shop in order to get these imperfections professionally removed. This may cost you a few hundred dollars in repairs, but the good news is, you can protect your newly restored finish to prevent these marks from ever returning!

Preventing scratches in your clear coat

The best way to prevent scratches in your clear coat is to apply a wax or ceramic coating to the surface of your vehicle. These protectants form a slick barrier over your clear coat to impede scratches, swirls and paint transfer. They also contain UV inhibitors to prevent spider webbing, oxidation and fading to help that showroom look last. We recommend a liquid or paste wax like Hybrid Solutions Pro to the Max Wax to give your car a deep, eye-popping gloss!

hybrid solutions pro to the max wax


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