How to Remove Paint Transfer From Your Car

Car scratches are incredibly irritating and in most cases, they tend to leave behind some paint transfer. It always seems like no matter how careful you are, accidents are almost impossible to avoid. Even if you always park away from the herd, you may still end up with scratches.

After all, it is extremely easy to get paint transfer on your car. You can back up into a post or a fence. You may accidentally back into your garage door, or get into a minor accident. All of those situations have one thing in common – the possibility of paint transfer.

Most of the time, you can remove these blemishes in 5 minutes without leaving a trace. Of course, you can take your car to a professional and pay for the removal, but this is usually going to cost a silly amount for something that you can do at home.

The Anatomy of a Paint Transfer

The first thing we have to understand is how your vehicle’s paint works. Namely, the layers that make up your car’s paint job.

To start, the vehicle’s body panel is covered by a primer. The actual color of your car is the color of the base coat of paint. However, on top of the base coat, there is a much thicker layer that is known as a clear coat. The clear coat protects the base coat of your car and gives it that nice shine. Lastly, you have a protective coat you can put on yourself known as wax.

paint transfer anatomy

These protective layers do their jobs well, for the most part. However, with enough pressure, paint can transfer from another vehicle or object. Especially if the object you bump into doesn’t have the same protective layers your car does.

Of course, it’s not all bad news here. Most of the time, paint transfer doesn’t get past the clear coat, which means the process for removal is fairly straightforward.

Products Required

The first thing you should do is to figure out how serious the scratch is. If the paint transfer is relatively light, you can use a store-bought scratch remover and a microfiber cloth.

However, if there is a lot of paint transfer on your car, you might want to start by softening the paint transfer. You can do this by applying WD-40; Below is WD40 confirming this in ChrisFix’s video.

The next product you will need is a fine/abrasive foam sponge, like the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. You will use the sponge to try and remove the transfer after applying the WD-40. After that, you will need some soapy water and a microfiber towel.

Lastly, you will need a waxing kit to protect your paint again.

How to Remove the Paint Transfer

Start by applying the WD-40 to the paint transfer. Be careful not to spread it around too much. It’s there to soften the paint for removal, and you don’t want to remove your car’s paint. Use a cloth to remove any WD-40 that goes astray.

Once that’s done, use warm water to soak the abrasive foam sponge. Proceed by carefully scrubbing the paint transfer. Try to follow the grain of the damage. If the layer of transfer is thicker, you might have to re-apply WD-40.

The vehicle will look like it did before the accident but may need a bit more work.

Make sure to remove the WD-40 from your paint. You can do it by merely spraying your soapy water and wiping it off with a microfiber towel.

If you are a perfectionist, you can also use a modeling clay bar before the wax layer. It will pick up any contaminants from the surface before the protective layer is applied.

Now, all that is left for you to do is the wax layer. Apply the wax to the area and let it sit for a couple of minutes. After that, use the microfiber towel to remove excess wax, and that’s it. Your car should be as good as new.

If you fear that the scratch might go deep enough to damage your paint, you should buy some touch-up paint.

If you’re more of a visual learner then this video by ChrisFix goes over this method:

Richard Reed
I've been a General Manager of a moving company and I've also been a Professional Mover for over 30 years. I've driven flat beds, reefers, dropdecks, moving vans, heavy machinery, etc. In my time as a Mover I've driven over 1,000,000 safe miles. My days of moving and driving truck are past me but The Vehicle Lab allows me to share the knowledge I've gained over the past 40 years.
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