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August 13, 2007

How to Remove Scratches from Your Car - Readers' tips and queries


I like enthusiasm. I like people who do their automobile maintenance in the parking lot at Canadian Tire because they’re too excited to drive home and install the new wiper blades in their own driveway.

 At my Canadian Tire there are so many of us working on our cars in the parking lot that local entrepreneurs caught on and now we’ve got a Hotdog Cart. Because standing around on hot asphalt with the hood up just makes you crave a foot-long.

 I’ve been getting mail from all over Canada about the subject of car care.  Some people have questions and others have tips.  Here is a quick selection of the messages from fellow enthusiasts on the road of life.

Hi Mag,

My name is Derek. I read your article in TO Sun regarding the appearance of haze on the dashboard. Thank you for the tip, but I do have one question. Where can I get the denatured alcohol (methylated spirits)?? to get rid of the haze, which is driving me CRAZY.

Thank you,

Derek (Mississauga)

Hi Derek,

Denatured alcohol is available in the paint section of your hardware store, but WAIT! Before you burn $9 worth of gas driving to the hardware store, check your liquor cabinet.

Denatured alcohol is just grain alcohol (ethanol) with foul-tasting and/or poisonous additives that make it undrinkable. Cheap vodka will do the same trick as denatured alcohol on your haze problem. Ironic isn’t it? You drink vodka and it makes you hazy, but put it on your dashboard and haze disappears.


Hi Mag,

One time my brand new van (now 3 years old) was being washed by my husband and kids. My son accidentally dropped the rag he was using. Not knowing that sand had got into the same rag, he still polished the said van. Voila, I have a shiny van full of scratches! Would you mind advising me on how to remove these scratches?


Judith Quien


Hi Judith,

You’re going to love this answer and so is your van. You can actually remove scratches for an investment of $13.49. Go to Canadian Tire and buy a bottle of Mother’s California Gold Scratch Remover.

Scratch Remover is a finely milled abrasive powder suspended in rich lubricants. I don’t know whose Mother she is, but she knows her lubricants. There’s no way you can screw up with this treatment.

Mothers_scratch_removerYou apply Scratch Remover with a clean cotton towel, rubbing scratched areas with a circular motion, changing direction frequently.  The microscopic abrasive particles smooth the paint finish, taking the edges of the scratch down a little bit at a time. You’ll need to repeat the treatment four to six times in a row to see the scratches disappear.

For really deep scratches it’s probably best to take your van to a detailer and get them to buff the scratch out with a rotary or orbital buffer. I’d caution against trying this yourself unless you practice on your barbecue for a few months first. Buffer jockeys have a lot of experience in applying the correct amount of pressure and if you’re the enthusiastic type, you’ll be down to bare metal in no time, or burning the paint finish.

Friction is good when applied by hand, but too much friction delivered by a misused appliance can ruin your day. And your car’s finish.

And finally, here are some tips from car restoring enthusiast Fred Buhay.

Hello there,
Here are a few rust protection products that I know of - very good products, but you won't find them in a local hardware store. 

Sems "Rust Mort" (available at www.amazon.com); this product is applied by brush, spray bottle or dipping, all flaky rust to be wire brushed off first.

Rust Bullet; has great reviews. You don't use a rust conversion product prior to its application, you can paint over this product once it cures, and it has great reviews in the automotive restoration community.

POR-15 (www.por15canada.com) is a line of super heavy-duty rust conversion, metal prep, and rust paints, fairly expensive. Once you open a can of POR-15 paint, be sure to use it and/or keep the paint from collecting in the lip of the can. It will cure rock-hard forming an impenetrable finish that seals out air and moisture. This is another favourite of classic car restorers.

Hope this info adds to your list of what may work with treating rusty metal, usually it's an ongoing battle once rust forms, but it can be controlled with products like the ones mentioned.

Hi Fred,

I got my hands on some Rust Bullet, both the automotive version and the standard version. I’m going to test it and let you know what happens. If Rust Bullet gets the thumbs up, there’s a new Canadian distributor who can set you up.




Hello. I used the Mother’s California Gold Scratch Remover after reading your entry. But I'm noticing now (about 2 months later), that all the scratches are back. The improvement seemed to be temporary. Boo! I'm wondering if you have noticed this too?


Hi Empress,
I like your blog. You're a renaissance woman.

I don't know how deep your scratches were to begin with, but it's possible that you need to create more heat to get the paint to 'heal'. Most professional detailers use a power buffer, which creates enough friction to make the paint 'melt' a bit and flow back over the bare metal. From my research I gathered that it takes a while to get the hang of operating a power buffer, so I haven't tried it yet. I do eye the electric buffers at Canadian Tire for a little too long though. Let me know if you try it, okay?

Hope that helps.


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