I cleaned my car yesterday and noticed two areas of new scratches, I'm confused as to what might have caused them.

They are both on the rear bumper, one on the lip above and two on the face.

They are not deep, they don't seem like someone has done it maliciously as it wouldn't make sense to mark it in such a way.

They don't look like parking too close to bush as they are too symmetrical.

They don't look like someone has bumped me as there is no paint nor would it explain the top lip.

I am more curious as to what has caused these, as they are very strange in position and pattern.

How have these marks most likely happened?

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • 1
    Or somebody with something scratchy on their pants leaned on the car. Or somebody carrying something got clumsy and did something unpredictable. Or somebody spilled something then tried to remove it and used a rag with some kind of grit on it from some unknowable previous activity. Or some guy walking by was carrying a large branch with a sharp metal object on the end, because this girl he was trying to impress said "bring me a stick, with a sharp metal object on the end, and I shall go on a date with you" and he was in a hurry and careless. Or whatever. Impossible to answer.
    – Jason C
    Aug 14, 2016 at 15:00
  • 1
    Looks like something a small child might do to me.
    – barbecue
    Aug 14, 2016 at 15:05
  • 3
    While cleaning your car you probably had dirt or some other abrasive stuck in the sponge which was then wiped over your bumper several times. Beyond that I don't understand why our speculation is of any value to you.
    – Andrew L
    Aug 14, 2016 at 16:37
  • Your speculation is of value to me so I can avoid leaving the car in a place this may occur in future. Aug 14, 2016 at 17:06
  • Maybe a couple drunk kids were leaning on your car and one had a lot of metal (buttons, grommets, studs) on their pants, and was sort of idly whittling away at the car with something they picked up off the ground, producing the other scrubby looking scratch, drunkenly not thinking about what they were doing. The possibilities are literally endless and limited only by your creativity. I can imagine infinite stories that would have led to those scratches.
    – Jason C
    Aug 14, 2016 at 17:54

2 Answers 2


As a guess, because you know it's anybody's guess at this point:

  1. The top picture looks as though there was some type of contaminant on the paint which some one tried to take off manually without the help of cleaning products. This ground whatever was on the paint into the paint, causing the scratches. This should easily buff out as there doesn't appear to be any major scaring on the paint.
  2. This appears something came in contact with the paint, like a bicycle. Maybe one fell over onto the car at some point. It could also be it got too close to something hard, like part of the structure within a parking garage. You could get most of this out with buffing, but I believe you'd still have some residual scratches left due to the depth of what's there.
  • 1
    After reading this answer, it reminded me that my car was caked in bird poo a week earlier, instead of saturating it and carefully dislodging the poo, I used a sponge and applied pressure. I took a picture of the bird mess before I cleaned because it was so bad, and it was in this exact position. So this was caused by the abrasive nature of the poo being rubbed up and down my bodywork by me unwittingly. Sep 20, 2016 at 14:08

The only two things we can say for sure are:

  • These scratches were caused by something harder than the paint, and
  • The thing that caused these scratches moved in the direction of the scratches.

Beyond that it's whatever you feel like imagining that meets those constraints. We can't even say if these scratches happened at the same time or not.

You can rule things out from this. For example, it wasn't, say, fingernails (too soft, real nails I mean). And it wasn't, say, a powered random orbit sander (not circular enough).

Only you know the quirks of your particular environment, so your guess based on what you usually see in that area is better than anything anybody else can provide. I mean, maybe you did it carrying cleaning buckets around or something and didn't notice.

If you want to minimize future risk, the best you can do is leave it in a secure garage and/or cover the vehicle when you park it, and even then there are no guarantees, you cannot predict what essentially random events will result in scratches on your vehicle in the future (maybe some debris finds its way under your car cover, for example).

Your true best bet is to fix the scratches on your own. By doing this, you'll learn something, you'll save money, and it'll be kinda fun and definitely satisfying. That way, you can deal with inevitable future scratches without losing sleep over it, as they are now an easily correctable problem instead of a big deal. You can't control the environment but you can certainly control your response.

I'd just stop trying to guess, you will never know unless somebody comes back and leaves a note or something, which, not going to happen, realistically. Where I am (in a crowded city) scratches are just an every day event, I'd go nuts if I tried to guess what caused every one.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .