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Exterior guides and mods

Panel Scratch Removal

Modification Details

In 2017, a guy at work thought it was funny to stick this vinyl onto the back of my car.
As we have to reverse into parking spaces at my work, I didn't see it until I went out the next day.

He obviously doesn't know how vinyls work as he left the transfer film on the vinyl decal.

Since I don't "love gay porn" and I didn't want my car vandalised by homophobes or my
neighbours complaining, I thought it best to remove the vinyl before going out in the car.

I removed the transfer film (like you're supposed to).

I carefully picked off the vinyl letters. This is when I made the discovery that there were loads of small scratches.

Many smart panels are not painted (depends on model and colour). These panels are black plastic and scratch easily.

I rarely clean my car but underneath all the dirt, the panels are ok. To apply the vinyls he has rubbed the dirt away.
This rubbing action (probably with a piece of dry paper towel) had abraded the surface and made it hazy.

As you bounce the light off it, you can see them more clearly. From a distance it was a non glossy area.

OK, first clean the panel. I used waterless wash and a new microfibre cloth.

Spray the panel down, leave it 5 minutes to soak. Spray it again and wipe the panel down.
On each wipe, fold the microfibre cloth to reveal a clean side. Use a new cloth if you run out of clean areas.

Waterless wash products contain a surfactant which bonds to and lubricates the dirt.
This stops the dirt from scratching as you wipe it from the car. After cleaning, this is the non scratched side.

It does look worse than it is but the hazing is still visable from a distance if you are looking for it.

Time to polish. T-Cut gets a bad rap but it's alright. If you have other polishing compounds, use them.
If you have various grades, start medium and go higher with each polish.

Splash it on all over (onto the panel not yourself, it's not an Old Spice advert).

There is little point trying to do this by hand. You'd be there for days. You'll need a buffing machine.
Ideally dual action (DA) as the random movement is far less likely to introduce swirl patterns.

After the 1st pass, which took about 15 minutes, the situation was far improved.
The haziness was gone but there were still some light scratches.

Repeat the buffing process. Keep the surface wet with polishing compound, keep the buffer head moving so
you don't create a heat build up which can melt the panel. Be careful buffing edges as you can ruin everything.

After about 6 or 7 applications and an hour of work, the small scratches are all but gone.

It's glossy once again and can be refitted to the car if you removed it like I did.
You don't have to remove it. I just didn't have room in the garage due to a car I was scrapping.

What About Larger Scratches?

You'll never get them out with this method. You'll need to get a paint stick to match the car.
Use it to fill the scratches and allow it to cure for a few days before polishing as above.

What About Vandalism Like Keyed Panels?

You'd be better off getting a new panel.

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