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Does Car Wax Remove Scratches? (How To)

Image Credit: twenty20photos via Envato Elements

Image Credit: twenty20photos via Envato Elements

Does Car Wax Remove Scratches? (How To)

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There’s a lot of confusion around the car detailing terms, wax and polish. Wax is a method of adding protection on top of car paint. Polish is a method of removing a thin layer from the top of car paint. Both of these products can improve the look and shine of automotive paint.

In this article we’ll break down what wax and polish do as well as the best scratch repair methods for light scratches as well as deeper scratches.

Does Car Wax Remove Scratches?

Car wax does not remove scratches. Waxing a car adds a layer of protection on top of the surface of car paint. It can obscure, slightly hide, or diminish the appearance of minor scratches in a car’s paint only.

Car wax is often confused with car polish which will remove surface scratches.

Car Wax Vs Car Polish

Waxing a car adds a layer of wax on top of your car paint. Polish is abrasive and grinds down the surface of car paint.

Car wax is designed to help protect the clear coat from damage caused by UV rays, environmental contaminants, and weather.

Polish is specifically designed to remove swirl marks and fine scratches in the surface of the clear coat of your car’s paint. These scratches are very minor and easily polished away.

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Car Wax Vs Cleaner Wax

As mentioned previously, car wax is a protective layer added on top of your paint job. Cleaner wax is a type of wax that can actually remove scratches. Cleaner wax is an all-in-one product that combines the benefits of wax and polish into one product.

Cleaner wax is designed to be buffed on car paint job similarly to how a polishing compound is buffed onto paint. This buffing process performs polishing with the abrasives that are added to the cleaner wax.

Once you’re finished buffing the paint with a cleaner wax and removed the light scratches and swirl marks, you can simply wipe away any excess with a microfiber cloth and that’s it.

How To Remove Light Scratches And Swirl Marks

Light scratches are those that are only in the surface of the clear coat. Clear coat is the top layer of your vehicle’s paint. Scratches that can be removed are those that are only on the surface of this clear coat layer.

How To Buff Out Scratches On A Car By Hand

These shallow scratches are easily removed with polishing compound. If you have a small area of scratches that you want to restore, a simple scratch repair kit can get the job done well. A scratch repair kit isn’t necessary though. You can purchase some polish, an applicator pad, and a microfiber cloth and you’ll have everything you need.

  1. Thoroughly wash your car or truck before you begin
  2. Apply some polish to your applicator pad and dab it around the area you’ll be working to spread the polish
  3. Rub the polishing in circular motions
  4. Check your progress to see how well the scratches are being removed
  5. Add more polish if you feel you need it
  6. Remove the excess polish when you’re done with a microfiber cloth
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How To Remove Light Scratches From A Car With An Electric Buffer

Larger polishing jobs can be done with a dual action polisher and some polish. If the damage is more severe, a compound, which is a more aggressive form of polish, can speed the process up. Just remember, deeper scratches can’t be removed by polishing. Deep scratch repair requires touch up paint.

  1. Thoroughly wash your car or truck before you begin
  2. Apply some polish to your polisher pad and dab it around the area you’ll be working to spread the polish
  3. Set your polisher on a lower speed and allow and move it back and forth in a cross hatch pattern in an area no larger than 2 feet by 2 feet
  4. Check your progress to see how well the scratches are being removed
  5. Repeat the process if necessary and increase the polisher speed setting if required
  6. If progress is unusually slow, you may need to use a rubbing compound which is more abrasive
  7. Remove the excess polish when you’re done with a microfiber cloth

Alternatively, you can get everything you need in the Meguiar’s Scratch Eraser Kit.

How To Remove Deep Scratches

Deeper scratches that penetrate all the way through the clear coat layer will require touch up paint to properly fix. This job is a lot more involved than polishing out scratches. The following is a short overview of the steps involved with removing heavy scratches.

  1. Thoroughly wash your car or truck before you begin
  2. Sand down the edges of the deep scratch so that it smoothly transitions to the unscratched area
  3. Clean the scratch with diluted isopropyl alcohol
  4. Layer thin coats of touch up paint (allowing each layer to dry in-between) until above the surface of the original paint job
  5. Wet sand this down to even with the factory paint job
  6. Apply 2 layers of clear coat touch up
  7. Wet sand this down to even with the factory paint job
  8. Clean with diluted isopropyl alcohol
  9. Restore shine by polishing

Paint Layers

Vehicle Paint Layers & Scratches

Automotive paint consists typically of 3 main layers:

Primer Coat

Primer is applied to the bare metal body panel to create a good bond between the paint and the metal surface.

Base Coat

The base coat, sometimes referred to as the color coat, is a couple layers of color paint.

Clear Coat

Clear coat is a clear urethane that is applied in several layers to provide a sacrificial layer of protection overtop the base coat. It also provides a deep glossy shine to the base coat.

Types Of Scratches

There are technically several different types of scratches, but the truth is that you really only need to worry about 2 types:

Light Surface Scratches

Light scratches are easily removed by simply polishing the scratches. Polishing removes some of the clear coat, essentially removing the clear coat the scratch itself is in and revealing fresh, unscratched clear coat beneath.

Deep Scratches

Deep scratches are a different story. A deep scratch is any scratch that has penetrated past the clear coat layer and at least down into the base coat. Deep scratches include those that penetrate all the way through to the bare metal of the body panel.

Deep scratch repair requires a lot more effort to resolve if you want the results to look respectable. Using touch up, wet sanding, and polishing to perform fix deeper scratches is a tedious process and ultimately, the results will not be perfect.

The reason is because you will never get the touch up color to perfectly match the original factory color, even if you buy factory matched touch up. Paint color fades over time due to the sun. There will always be a slight color shift.

While you may do a great job fixing the scratch, it will be noticeable when you are looking right at it. The good news is that it will look fine from 10 feet away.

If these results aren’t acceptable to you for the level of work required, I recommend you take your car or truck to a body shop and have them repaint the area so they can blend the paint across a large area so the paint fade isn’t noticeable.

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Conclusion

Car wax doesn’t remove scratches but there are plenty of scratch removers on the market that can help you get the results you’re looking for, if your scratch is a shallow scratch that is just in the car’s surface.

Your car’s paintwork consists of many layers and any scratch that penetrates through the clear coat will require touching up and a lot of effort to properly fix. Also, the results won’t be flawless but will be passable from 10 feet away or more.

Good luck and happy detailing.

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