How To Fix Plastic Scratches In Your Car?

Scratches and scuffs on the interior plastic surfaces of your car can really detract from its appearance. Over time, the constant in-and-out of passengers and cargo can take its toll on your vehicle’s interior trim pieces. Fix Plastic Scratches In Car the right way, and you can restore your interior to a like-new condition. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through several methods for repairing and removing unsightly scratches and abrasions from your car’s plastic interior components. With a little time and effort, you can make those annoying scars disappear.

Assessing The Damage

The first step is to take a close look at the scratches and evaluate the depth and severity of the damage. Light surface scratches can often be buffed out with relative ease. Deeper gouges, however, may require more intensive repairs.

Here are some quick tips for assessing scratch damage on interior plastics:

  1. Look at the scratch under good lighting conditions to see the full extent of the damage.
  2. Run your fingertip across the length of the scratch to feel if it is superficial or deeper.
  3. Deeper scratches will have frayed or distorted edges.
  4. Check if the scratch has penetrated through any colored coatings down to the bare plastic.
  5. Wider and longer scratches will be more challenging to repair.

Once you’ve identified the type of scratches you’re dealing with, you can move on to the appropriate repair method.

Cleaning And Prepping The Surface

Before doing any scratch repair, it’s imperative that you thoroughly clean the surface of the plastic trim. Any dirt, dust or grime allowed to remain could end up embedded into the plastic during the repair process.

Fix The Plastic Scratches In Car
Fix The Plastic Scratches In Car

Follow these steps to prep the surface:

  1. Vacuum up any loose debris or dirt around the scratch.
  2. Mix together a cleaning solution of warm water and mild dish soap.
  3. Dampen a soft microfiber cloth in the solution and gently scrub the surface of the plastic.
  4. Rinse with clean water and dry completely with a fresh towel.

Proper cleaning removes contaminants and provides the blank canvas needed for an effective scratch repair.

Using Heat To Refinish Light Scratches

For minor surface scratches, a heat process can effectively reduce their appearance by refinishing the texture of the plastic. This involves gently re-melting the surface to blend out the imperfections. Here’s how it works:

Supplies Needed

  1. Heat gun or high-heat hair dryer
  2. Plastic finishing pad
  3. Fine-grit sandpaper (600-1000 grit)


  1. Protect surrounding areas from heat damage and overspray.
  2. Warm the scratched area with sweeping motions of the heat gun on a low setting.
  3. When the plastic surface begins to take on a satiny appearance, it’s ready for finishing.
  4. Press the textured finishing pad into the heated area to imprint a new texture.
  5. Allow plastic to fully cool and harden.
  6. Lightly sand with fine-grit paper to blend and remove any inconsistencies.
  7. Clean area once more when complete.

With practice, this technique can make light scratches virtually invisible by altering the surface appearance.

Filling Deep Scratches

If there are any deeper gouges or furrows, filling them in with a plastic finishing compound is often the most effective approach. Here are the steps for this process:


  1. Multi-purpose plastic filler compound
  2. Application spatula or spreader
  3. Fine-grit sandpaper


  1. Make sure the scratch is thoroughly cleaned out beforehand.
  2. Fill the scratch up with plastic filler, overfilling slightly.
  3. Use a spreader to smooth and level off the filler flush with the surrounding surface.
  4. Allow filler to fully cure per manufacturer instructions.
  5. Once hardened, sand down excess filler until smooth and blended.

The filler provides a permanent bridge in the scratch damage, which is then sanded and feathered out seamlessly. This helps restore the original uniform surface.

Touch-up Paint Pens

For scratches that have penetrated colored coatings down to the bare plastic, touch-up paint pens can be very effective at disguising the exposed areas. Here’s how to use them:


  1. Touch-up paint pen matched to interior color
  2. Isopropyl alcohol
  3. Microfiber applicator


  1. Clean and dry the exposed scratch thoroughly.
  2. Shake the touch-up paint pen vigorously to mix the paint.
  3. Lightly wipe the surface with alcohol before application.
  4. Carefully apply thin coats of paint using the precision pen tip.
  5. Allow paint to dry fully between light coats.
  6. Once dry, buff gently with a microfiber towel to blend.

These specialty pens allow you to recreate the original colored coating over raw plastic scratches for a seamless look.

Buffing Out Light Scratches

If you’re dealing with fine surface scratches, then gently buffing and polishing the plastic may be all that you need to reduce their visibility. Here are some effective methods:


  1. Apply a small amount of white toothpaste to the scratch.
  2. Using a soft cloth, gently rub the toothpaste in circular motions across the length of the scratch.
  3. As you buff, the mild abrasives in the paste will work to diminish the scratch.
  4. Once finished, wipe away all toothpaste residue.
Fix Plastic Scratches In Car
Fix Plastic Scratches In Car

Plastic Polish

  1. Use a plastic polish cream designed specifically for use on interior car surfaces.
  2. Work a small amount of polish into scratch using a microfiber cloth.
  3. Continue to buff until the abrasion begins to diminish.
  4. Remove all residue and reapply if needed.

With light pressure and circular rubbing, buffing can greatly improve the look of fine scratches.

Can Toothpaste Remove Scratches?

Toothpaste can be moderately effective at reducing the appearance of light surface scratches on plastic surfaces. The mild abrasives found in whitening toothpastes are able to slowly grind down the edges and grooves of a scratch when buffed in circular motions. This helps blend the area for an improved appearance. However, toothpaste lacks the finer abrasives and fillers found in dedicated plastic polishes, so it may not fully remove deeper scratches. It’s best for use on fine marks and swirls. 

Take care not to rub too aggressively when using toothpaste, as excess pressure can worsen scratches. Overall, toothpaste can provide moderate scratch removal, but should be combined with other methods for optimal results. For deeper scratches, a more heavy-duty filler or compound is recommended.

Does WD-40 Remove Scratches On Plastic?

WD-40 is not an effective scratch remover for plastic surfaces. While this multi-use lubricant can displace moisture and prevent rust on metal surfaces, it does not contain the necessary abrasives or fillers to fix scratched plastics. Spraying or wiping WD-40 onto scratched plastic is unlikely to improve the appearance. In some cases, it can leave behind an oily residue that attracts more dirt and debris to settle into the scratch. 

If WD-40 is sprayed onto electronics or certain plastics, it could even damage the material. Instead of WD-40, specially formulated plastic polishes and compounds are better choices for removing scratches from plastic finishes. If WD-40 is accidentally applied, clean the area thoroughly with water and a pH-neutral cleaner. But avoid using WD-40 as your primary scratch remover for plastic and interior car surfaces.

Can You Fix Scratched Plastic In A Car?

Yes, there are several effective methods for repairing and improving scratched plastic surfaces inside your car. Light, superficial scratches can often be minimized with plastic polishes and buffing. Deeper gouges may need to be filled with a plastic filler compound, which is applied into the scratch, then sanded smooth. Repainting with touch-up pens can conceal scratches that remove colored coatings. 

For minor marks, gently reheating the plastic with a heat gun while imprinting with a textured pad can alter the surface appearance. Combining methods like polishing, filling, painting, and heat-finishing allows you to fix interior plastic car scratches ranging from minor to severe. It just takes a bit of effort, patience, and using the right materials for the type of scratch damage present. With some work, scratched and abraded interior plastics can be restored.

Can I Polish My Car With WD-40?

It’s not advisable to use WD-40 as a car polish. While WD-40 can lend a temporary wet-look shine when sprayed onto chrome and metal surfaces like bumpers or trim pieces, it does not actually polish or remove imperfections. On paint surfaces in particular, WD-40 leaves behind an oily film that attracts dust and dirt that can damage the clear coat finish over time. It also cannot break down bonded contaminants and water spots like a true paint-safe polish containing mild abrasives. 

WD-40 will simply sit atop the clearcoat, masking issues rather than correcting them. For occasional use on metals, WD-40 shine and protection is very temporary. When polishing and protecting your car’s paint, stick to products specifically designed for automotive surfaces. Leave WD-40 for its intended uses like freeing stuck parts, not as a car polish.

Prevention Tips

Repairing interior plastic scratches takes effort, so it’s wise to take measures to prevent them in the first place. Here are some handy tips:

  1. Use seat covers on areas that receive the most wear and tear.
  2. Avoid letting sharp objects rub against plastic surfaces.
  3. Install door edge guards to prevent nicks and scratches from shoes.
  4. Keep plastic trim clean and protected with vinyl conditioner.

With some diligence and care, you can keep your interior scratch-free for years. But even the most pristine vehicle will likely need some touch up eventually. Just remember, by knowing the right techniques, you can make Fix Plastic Scratches In Car disappear!


What Are The Easiest Scratches To Repair On Plastic Car Parts?

Minor surface level scratches are often the easiest to improve or remove. Methods like buffing, polishing, or using a heat process can blend these out relatively quickly and easily.

What Scratch Repair Methods Should Be Avoided?

Avoid any overly abrasive tools like metal wire brushes or very coarse sandpaper. These can worsen scratches and even damage the plastic. Steer clear of harsh chemicals as well.

How Can I Prevent Future Scratches On Interior Surfaces?

Use seat covers, door edge guards, regular cleaning, and vinyl protectants to help keep plastic surfaces scratch-free. Also, avoid letting sharp objects rub against trim pieces.

What Are Touch Up Paint Pens Best Used For?

Touch up pens are ideal for covering up scratches that have penetrated colored coatings and exposed the bare plastic underneath. Match the paint color to seamlessly recreate the original finish.

How Do I Smooth Plastic Filler Once I’ve Filled A Deep Scratch?

Allow the filler to fully cure first. Then use increasingly finer grit sandpaper to smooth and feather out the filler until it’s flush with the surrounding surface. Be patient and gradual.

Summing It Up

Fixing interior plastic scratches involves first assessing the severity of damage, then using the appropriate method whether it’s buffing, filling, paint pens, or heat refinishing. With the right tools and techniques, you can make unsightly scratches disappear and restore your interior plastic components to pristine condition. Just take care to properly prep, clean and protect the surface throughout the repair process.

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Ammar Masoud

I have had a long and fulfilling career in the automotive industry, primarily with Honda and Acura. With 15 years of experience as a Honda service technician, I became highly skilled in repair and maintenance, gaining a deep understanding of these vehicles. After many years in the automotive field, I decided to embark on a second career in industrial manufacturing. It was a significant change, but I found that the skills I had honed in the automotive industry were incredibly valuable in my new role. In my current position in industrial manufacturing, the demand for quality workmanship and meticulous attention to detail is paramount. Fortunately, these are traits that I have cultivated throughout my years in the automotive industry. I take pride in applying these skills to meet the high standards expected in the manufacturing sector.