Get a grip on paint scratch repair: ScratchPro

I’m a great believer in the Rule of 5. A car-enthusiast friend says he won’t attempt a big repair job – car or home – unless he’ll be doing at least five similar repairs. Because, he says, the first job he’ll screw up, the second will be better and by the fifth, he will have become a passable expert.

That’s how I feel about trying to make repairs to paint – and most other automotive and household chores.

I recalled the rule when a pitch from ScratchPro paint repair landed in my inbox. The kit costs about $30 at the company website and other sites, such as

But, as a test, I gave this manual, three-step buffing-compound treatment an arm-wringing workout. There are ds. A solid rubber, dome-like applicator holds the pad securely and allows even, balanced pressure. It is a much better applicator than a cloth or paper towel, which when wet don’t provide even pressure and wad up quickly, adding to the frustration of the user.

A concern with any of these aftermarket scratch removers is the likelihood of causing more harm than good to the paint finish. The uninformed do not realize that a deep scratch, one that can be felt with a fingernail, is too deep for a home remedy. Most of the light scratches that can be repaired by ScratchPro are overlooked except by those who are fanatical about their vehicle’s finish and appearance.

For those who plunge forward for a paint repair, know that it takes patience and strict adherence to the application guide. Do a little homework and watch the how-to video at the website,

The single-step process for cleaning plastic headlight lenses works well on moderate haze. And I liked that the paint areas do not have to be masked off to prevent abrasion. Buffing the paint area around the lens brightened the whole project.

I also tried ScratchPro on an aluminum wheel, but the applicator is not a help there and too large to get into nooks and corners.  I would have had to put too much time and effort into improving one wheel, let alone finding the strength for three others.

For the cost of one ScratchPro, a DIYer could take his or her vehicle to a specialist such as Bumper Doc, pay a little more and get the whole car worked on, including headlights.

Paint detail work is a craft best left to a specialist when you really love your car. If you’re doing a quickie fluff and buff for sale, ScratchPro is a good alternative.

About Mark Maynard

Mark Maynard has been the automotive editor at the San Diego Union-Tribune since 1992.

He drives nearly 200 vehicles a year for review, has attended several high-performance driving schools and a few off-road driving courses.

He attends many new-vehicle press introductions and schmoozes with auto-industry execs.

Mark Maynard