Scratches and Paint Transfer
Tags: AUTOMOTIVE, CAR, CARE, CHATTANOOGA, CLEANING, COMPOUNDING, DETAILING, PAINT, POLISH, REMOVAL, SANDING, SCRATCH, TENNESSEE, TIPS, WASH, WAX, WET
Scratches and Paint Transfer
Does your vehicle have any mysterious blemishes on its paint? Scratches and "Paint Transfer" can often be difficult to tell apart. Paint transfer results when an object leaves a mark "on the paint" as opposed to "in the paint". One of the easiest and most reliable ways to tell the difference is to gently run a fingernail over the affected area. If the mark can be felt, it is most likely in the paint. This same technique can be used to gauge the depth of the scratch. Paint transfer is much easier to eliminate than a scratch.
We often have people ask us if we can use wax to remove a scratch and the answer is always a resounding "no". Most automotive waxes and polishes are formulated with advanced cleaners that cleanse painted surfaces as they are applied. In most cases, they will remove contamination such as paint transfer. Paint transfer comes in all shapes and colors. If your vehicle is white and you have a black mark on the paint, 99.9% of the time, it is paint transfer. Some paint transfer can be misleading and appearing as a scratch. Gently applying a small amount of polish to the area will give you a definitive answer without damaging your paint or clear coat. You wouldn't kill an ant with a sledge hammer so starting small is always recommended. A good polish can often be used to eliminate surface scratches that have not penetrated through the clear coat. We prefer to use polishes that do not contain Silicone because Silicone does not deliver true results and can temporarily hide surface scratches from the naked eye, but after a wash or two, they reappear.
As previously stated, scratches cannot be eliminated with wax. The scratch can be temporarily hidden with wax, but not completely eliminated. Scratches are visible to the naked eye because light reflects off the sharp edges on the scratch itself, so to eliminate the scratches the edges need to be smoothed out. Deeper scratches will require wet sanding followed with a multi-stage compounding, Lighter scratches can be eliminated with multi-stage compounding. Scratches can be too deep to be removed without repainting part of the car. Once the base coat (or paint color) is penetrated, it cannot be removed without being repainted. Depending on the depth of the scratch, polish can sometimes be used to reasonable degree of success, but most often the scratch needs to be wet sanded and/or compounded to be completely eliminated. If a scratch is deep enough to require wet sanding or compounding, I would recommend having a professional perform the task because it requires a high degree of skill and specialized equipment with potentially consequential results. Before getting quotes on having a car repainted, consult a detailing professional to see if painting a car can be avoided and under no circumstances should you search for a wax that is formulated to match the color of your vehicle because it is a major waste of time and money. Below are before and after pictures of a scratch that we wet sanded and compounded on a BMW 1-Series.