When you are carrying tons of gear, whether it be to school, work, or for recreational activities, chanacces are that after multiple trips the inside of your vehicle will be scratched. Whether by accident or from rowdy kids in the backseat, at some point in your car owner's life you will have to ask yourself or a mechanic ‘how to remove scratches from plastic car interior.’
Scratches on interior surfaces not only reduce the resale value of your car when looking to sell your car to used car buyers, like CashCarsBuyer, but they also reduce the appearance and style of your vehicle while you drive around. No driver wants to see the inside of their car’s cabin full of scratches and marks!
We will tell you the best and quickest ways to learn how to remove scratches from plastic car interiors, how to remove scratches from plastic car exterior, and the best types of car interior plastic polish to use for maximum results.
How to remove scratches from plastic car interior – Steps
There are two main methods you can use for learning how to remove scratches from a plastic car interior – either buying a specialist kit containing everything you need for simple use, or using a combination of sanding, painting, and heating.
Tools You’ll Need
To learn how to remove scratches from a plastic car interior yourself without any specialty kits, there are some tools and materials required. For a professional finish without causing any more damage than good, you need the following items;
- Heat gun to remold the plastic and prevent any cracks
- Interior grain pad to retexture the plastic to mimic the original
- Sandpaper using superfine grit
- Interior car cleaner to remove any excess dirt and grime from the plastic of your vehicle
The process of how to remove scratches from plastic car interior
Clean the area on and around the scratch
Using the correct type of interior plastic cleaner, wipe the area around the scratch to prep the space. Vacuum and remove any dirt and debris that can get stuck while using the sandpaper and other cleaner.
Ensure that the debris is removed so you can get a smooth finish and prevent the dirt from melting into the plastic. If you let the dirt heat into the plastic, this can cause the color of your car’s interior to change.
Shave and Smooth
As a scratch forms on the interior of your car, the material it rips out leaves pieces all over the plastic car interior. You may find that there are ridges of plastic or vinyl on either side of the scratch, making it more difficult to clean. Gently grind the excess pieces down with fine grit sandpaper, or using a razor blade depending on the depth of the scratch.
Once the big pieces are cut away, you can begin to use the fine-grit sandpaper to keep the edges of the scratch as flush as possible.
Use a heat gun to gently apply heat
Apply heat to the plastic area and let it soften. Don’t heat the areas for too long, as this can cause the plastic to wrap and cause more harm than good. You will be able to tell when the plastic is ready, as it will begin to lose texture.
Apply a grain pad and use light pressure
Using very light pressure, use a grain pad to give a textured and smooth finish to the plastic to prevent the scratch from having a strong appearance. Grain apds are available to purchase at your local auto body store or online. Choose the correct grain pad, selecting one that resembles the plastic trim in your vehicle.
Let the area cool and harden
The texture of your plastic should now look similar to the unaffected area. However, when learning how to remove scratches from a plastic car interior, you need to ensure the material is fully sanded down to ensure the textures match completely.
Clean and dry the area
The final step in learning how to remove scratches from plastic car interior involves cleaning, painting, and coating. Once the repaired car dashboard is cooled off, it is time for a final fix with super fine sandpaper to remove any lingering pieces of debris or scratch particles. Repeating this step ensure your plastic car interior is all the same shape and smooth to run your hand over
You will occasionally find that there is a very thin layer of debris over the plastic scratch – this final step helps remove these contaminants without too much excess labor. Once teh sanding is complete, do a quick wipe-down with rubbing alcohol or designated automotive interior cleaner.
Once the dashboard has been cleaned, use some paint to cover the rest of the scratch. If necessary, the final step in learning how to remove scratches from plastic car interiors is using a clear outer coat to smooth the material.
Best Tools For Removing Scratches From Plastic Car Interior
There are certain materials you should use when trying to remove scratches on a vinyl or plastic car dashboard.
- Interior car cleaner – Although rubbing alcohol can work faster, using a high-quality cleaning agent will often do a better job with less damage. Use a spray bottle to get rid of any dirt and debris wedged in the scratch.
- Heat gun – The heat gun helps the plastic be shaped to the proper form and resemble the original.
- Grit Sandpaper – For blending and cleaning small imperfections, grit sandpaper helps provide the perfect texture.
- Textured Grain Pads – For resurfacing leather vinyl, choose the correct finish and pattern of a grain pad that resembles the damaged plastic or vinyl.
- Lint-Free Gloves – Use some nitrile gloves to protect yourself when learning how to remove scratches from the plastic car interior.
- Color-matched Paint – Make sure you choose the right tint and hue of paint that matches your car's interior when learning how to remove scratches from plastic car interior.
- Cleaning Cloth – Clean-up the area around your dashboard and plastic to prevent any excess spills and damage.
Tools to AVOID When Learning how to remove scratches from plastic car interior:
- Household Cleaners – even though you may think you are saving money using household cleaners that you already own, these products are not meant for vinyl or leather dashboards. In the long run, these products can cause more harm than good, leading to discoloration and potential for cracks.
- Blow torch – Although you want to warm your dashboard before trying to remold the plastic, a blow torch will provide too much and can burn the car.
- Coarse Sandpaper – Rough grit sandpaper will make the dashboard more scratched than it already is, causing a problem when learning how to remove scratches from plastic car interior.
- Spray Paint – Unlike the spray bottle or using a brush, spray paint will sit everywhere and lead to more labor when learning how to repaint your car.
how to remove scratches from plastic car exterior
Look at the depth of the scratches
When learning how to remove scratches from plastic car interior, you need to know how deep the scratch is, as this changes the method to fixing it on the outside of your vehicle. You can determine the depth of the scratch by running your finger over the indentation.
If your fingernail doesn’t hook on the scratch, it is shallow enough to treat with lighter materials, like baking soda. However, if your nail catches on the scratch, this indicates you need to use a series of products, such as fine-grit sandpaper.
Clean the area
The next step in learning how to remove scratches from plastic car interior is to clean the exterior area of your vehicle. Before buffing the scratch, clean the plastic surface and get rid of any debris and dirt stuck on the plastic. Use warm water and some dish soap mixed with rubbing alcohol on a clean cloth to wipe off the space.
Regardless of what material you are dealing with, you need to thoroughly clean your car. A wipe-down with interior spray and a microfiber cloth presents any discoloration from occurring later on in the process.
Buff using a mild abrasive
The next step in learning how to remove scratches from plastic car interiors is to use a mild abrasive, like toothpaste or baking soda, to remedy the minor scratch on the outside of your vehicle. Squeeze enough paste out to use on a cotton round, cleaning in small circles around the scratch.
Continue cleaning until the surface begins to even out, ‘shaving’ off the scratch appearance. Rinse the excess residue with water, and continue applying until you get the desired results.
Wet sand for deeper scratches
If you find the scratch on the outside of your car is too deep to use a mild abrasive, the other step you can use when learning how to remove scratches from plastic car interior is to use wet sand. Wet sanding slowly leecls the surface of the plastic with more force than toothpaste or baking soda, making it a good choice for deep scratches on the exterior.
Soak a piece of wet/dry sandpaper for several minutes until completely wet. Use gentle and circular motions to sand the area, making sure to not apply excess pressure on the area – this strong force could cause new scratches instead of getting rid of them!
Use a fine grit
If you find that traces of your scratch still remain on the outside of your vehicle, re-clean the area and use a finer sandpaper. The finer grit helps get rid of deep scratches when learning how to remove scratches from plastic car exterior.
Polish the exterior of the car
After the scratch has been fixed and the surface of your vehicle has been cleaned, use a small amount of polishing compound to re-shine and give the car its aesthetic look back.
Car Interior Plastic Polish
When learning how to remove scratches from plastic car interiors, there are certain types of car interior plastic polish you can use for your vehicle.
CarGuys Super Cleaner
This type of car interior plastic polish is a multi-surface cleaner that is a great price for the quality. This cleaner uses nano-technology to effectively rid dirt and grime, works on multiple surfaces, and protects against UV sun rays.
Chemical Guys TVD 107
The positives of this car interior plastic polish includes the lack of any strong odors, the effortless application, the great-smelling liquid, and the long-lasting materials that won’t break down after a few weeks. The negatives of this polish is that it is not the most ideal choice for exterior trim.
CarGuys Plastic Restorer
This choice is often considered the best all-purpose cleaner for your car interior. The positives of this car interior plastic polish includes the versatility for interior and exterior cleaning, the good smell, reasonable price, long-lasting results, and lack of any harsh chemicals. The only downside to this car interior plastic polish is it does not work on gray surfaces.
Chemical Guys SPI22016 Total Interior Protectant
This cleaner is very low-budget for those who don’t want to break the bank when learning how to remove scratches from plastic car interiors! The positives of this car interior plastic polish includes fast detailing, intense cleaning, multi-surface use, sunlight protection, and lack of any residue left behind. The only negative to using this product is leaving light color behind after cleaning.
303 Products Aerospace Protectant
This cleaner protest against UV rays, leaves a pleasant odor, suitable for various surfaces, doesn’t attract grease or stains, easy to lean, and helps prevent oxidation. However, some customers complain that the car interior plastic polish smudges when it becomes dry when learning how to remove scratches from the plastic car interior.
The Bottom Line
Drivers need to learn the steps of how to remove scratches from plastic car interiors when keeping their car at a high resale value level! If car owners find that a scratch has formed on the plastic interior of their car or the exterior of their vehicle, learning what products to use and how to fix the scratch on their own can help them save on labor costs!