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?

  • Maybe you already answered this? "I can remove it by carefully scratching with fingernails" Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 16:20
  • @Bernhard - that's a painstaking process. I'm sure the OP is asking for a little quicker way. Commented Mar 15, 2011 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
    Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 20:16
  • Goo-Gone worked amazing for me.
    – user3287
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 15:53

10 Answers 10


If it's 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.

  • If you're in the UK, I'd use T-Cut for this, followed up by some wax. Commented Mar 15, 2011 at 21:23
  • 1
    +1 for the mention of random orbital. Rotary should only be done by an experienced professional, and not all are.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 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
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 1:15
  • I just did it and the acetone worked. Nice advice. Thanks a bunch.
    – user2926
    Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 10:32
  • Make sure to wax after, it will help protect the paint in that area as it now likely has a significant amount of little scratches. Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 16:19

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.


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.

  • 2
    +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 Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 16:02
  • You are right! I tried the Bilt Hamber Auto Clay Bar (I had regular rather than medium or soft) that I was using to remove tar spots and other dirt and with a bit of work the paint mark came right off!
    – SharpC
    Commented Jul 16, 2017 at 19:13

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.

  • 1
    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. Commented Jul 16, 2016 at 21:34

I live in the 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.


Brasso and a fine cloth does the trick.

  • 1
    I was going to comment on this and say I recommend this too, then I saw who the poster was. Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 8:35

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.

  • WD-40 or equivalent works for me too. Spray on, wait around 5 minutes, then wipe with a tissue, gently to start then harder if needed. It seems to work by penetrating the flakes of paint and loosening them. Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 9:49

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

  • 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
    Commented Jan 27, 2013 at 22:52
  • 2
    @theUg - Actually, I think user2688 left out a word and meant to say "non-acetone nail polish REMOVER".
    – MT_Head
    Commented Jan 28, 2013 at 18:20

I had two large orange drops of some unknown but very difficult to remove stuff on the top of my 2005 white car, along with splatter (indicating that this had dripped onto my car from above while it was parked), and a long streak of runoff down the back of the vehicle. My best guess was that this was some kind of terrible calcified/rust/paint mixture dripping through cracks in the ceiling of my parking garage.

I'm in the US and have not heard of the solution mentioned in the preferred answer. After reading this question/answer thread this past weekend, I tried a few things:
1. take car through a Sonic car wash. Did not remove stains.
2. manually scrub with "generic" car wash/wax solution and warm water, using sponge (nope), microfiber cloth (nope), and bristle brush (nope).
3. manually scrub with homemade solution of 2 tbsp baking soda and 2(ish) cups of warm water using microfiber cloth. With a TON of elbow grease, a tiny little bit came off, but not enough that this was a practical solution. This also left an annoying whitish film all over that I had to wash off with #2.
4. Add my father's urging (I didn't think it was going to work), manually scrub with Turtle Wax Scratch and Swirl Remover using a warm, damp microfiber cloth. He's had this stuff in his garage for god knows how many years and the result was magical. With a minimum of elbow grease, the stains came right out and the only thing left behind was a really nice wax job.

It also removed really, really old (like from years ago) paint transfer from other people opening their car (red, black, blue) doors into the side of mine. I thought those stains would never come out. In writing up the answer to this question I actually forgot the name of the product and in searching for it found a website that recommends the product for this very purpose: turtlewax.com

Full disclosure: I have absolutely no association with this company, I'm just a really pleased son of a customer. So if there is a rule against posting their URL, feel free to remove it. I found it to be such a surprisingly good solution that I figured it should be posted here.


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!!

  • 1
    Acetone may stain the car paint. Be careful when using these. Commented May 12, 2016 at 22:06

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