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The painted edge of a side mirror on another car recently scraped the side of my vehicle, leaving a scuff of paint about half a meter long.

There is no indentation or scratch, but the other vehicle left its mark behind in a very difficult-to-remove paint scuff.

I can remove it by carefully scratching with fingernails, so I am sure it will come off, but I'm not sure how best to fully remove it, as any paint-removing chemicals surely will damage the coat I don't want to remove.

What do you recommend for removing paint scuffs like this?

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Maybe you already answered this? "I can remove it by carefully scratching with fingernails" – Bernhard Hofmann Mar 15 '11 at 16:20
@Bernhard - that's a painstaking process. I'm sure the OP is asking for a little quicker way. – Chase Florell Mar 15 '11 at 16:24
@Bernhard, @rock: Yep, looking for a way to do this a little more efficiently - the fingernail approach would take a very long time. – JYelton Mar 15 '11 at 20:16

10 Answers 10

up vote 19 down vote accepted

If its deep enough that merely wiping it doesn't remove it, the scuff is deeper than just the very top surface of your paint. First, try Meguiars Scratch-x with a microfiber cloth. Rub it in. Try two or three passes to see if this removes the scuff mark. Doing so by hand won't remove any of your paint unless its been compromised (cracked, flaking, peeling, etc).

If this doesn't work, have a pro detailer take a pass with an random orbital (or rotary if they know what they're doing) polisher + some compound. This will take it right out and leave the paint pretty shiny. The problem with this is, it will be shinier than the rest of your car and you may be tempted to just have them do the whole thing.

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If you're in the UK, I'd use T-Cut for this, followed up by some wax. – Umber Ferrule Mar 15 '11 at 21:23
+1 for the mention of random orbital. Rotary should only be done by an experienced professional, and not all are. – dotancohen Mar 22 '12 at 17:55
Used my random orbital on the wife's car not too long ago for this exact purpose. It seems that a significant swath of garage door paint had managed to get onto the top edge of her hatchback. A mystery.... ;-) – Bob Cross Feb 11 '13 at 1:15
I just did it and the acetone worked. Nice advice. Thanks a bunch. – user2926 Mar 23 '13 at 10:32

Before you do anything else, try some goo-gone. This should remove any paint from the other vehicle, without affecting the paint on your car. (If you're really concerned about it affecting your paint, you could try it in a small, inconspicuous area, but I've done this on a number of cars with no ill effects).

If after removing the paint, you can still see marks, then move on to @NoCarrier's suggestions. Be careful with the Scratch-X, though: it may not remove the paint, but it will dull it and it'll have to be polished to match the rest of the paint.

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You could try auto detailing clay (aka clay bar). It is a slightly abrasive clay material that is used to remove surface contaminants. This is the most gentle (non-chemical) solution you can try. Admittedly, it may be too gentle for this.

If that doesn't work, you may have to step up to liquid polish.

You can technically use a fine grained sandpaper on your paint, but you have to polish it afterward and you can easily damage the paint if you aren't careful.

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+1 just note that the sanding is a last resort and should be left to an expert, you can really damage a finish if you don't know what you are doing – Move More Comments Link To Top Mar 22 '11 at 16:02

Mr. Clean magic eraser and water worked better than anything mentioned above. It takes a while, but there is zero chance of harming the painted surface since it is not an abrasive. I removed horrendous amounts of paint due to encounters with a short yellow bollard and a white stucco house. The scrapes were so severe that they left scratches on the plastic bumper and cladding. The foreign paint had then baked in the SoCal sun for years before I tried to fix it. Rubbing compound will take off your paint even if done by hand. Chemically, both your car's paint and the foreign paint are the same so a solvent like goo-gone, acetone, etc. will affect and damage both or neither. I believe that in any scenario that works, the key part is the mechanical aspect of removal. The eraser is just that mechanical part with no abrasives or solvents to damage the paint. The eraser also removed carpet stains even Folex couldn't touch. Interior scuff marks from boots on light plastic were also instantly removed. I love those erasers and use them until they are completely gone.

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Magic Erasers are made of melamine foam. Though they feel soft, the fibers are extremely hard and work by abrasion. They are an abrasive and can damage your clear coat and paint. – Brent Rockwood Jul 16 at 21:34

I am in USA and not aware of some products mentioned. The basic idea is to use a very mild abrasive and a wax, both in the same product. I use Turtle Wax Chrome Polish. Just rub hard with a rag. The repaired area will match surrounding paint. Any minor scratches in your paint will remain, but all foreign paint will be cleanly removed without the dulling caused by rubbing compound or other abrasives.

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Brasso and a fine cloth does the trick.

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I was going to comment on this and say I recommend this too, then I saw who the poster was. – Juann Strauss Jul 17 '13 at 8:35

Go-Gone worked amazing for me.

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It is too short for a quality answer, methinks. – theUg Jun 13 '13 at 21:35

I've used W-d40 on metal with some success. Gasoline seems to work on fiberglass and plastic as well as metal. I know of a couple of detailers who use a microfiber cloth and gasoline.

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I have used non acetone nail polish remover for this type of thing with good results.

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I think what you are referring to is painting over a scratch, whereas OP talks about removing other car’s paint bits from the scuff on the surface. – theUg Jan 27 '13 at 22:52
@theUg - Actually, I think user2688 left out a word and meant to say "non-acetone nail polish REMOVER". – MT_Head Jan 28 '13 at 18:20

Try using WD-40 and then wiping clean with a terry-cloth towel. You may have to use some elbow grease but it definitely does the trick. If there are some tough spots to get try little amounts of Goo-Gone or Acetone!! Good luck!!

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Acetone may stain the car paint. Be careful when using these. – Gabriel Diego May 12 at 22:06

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