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How Car Dealers Hide Scratches

 5 Ways Used Car Dealers Hide Scratches

When considering a used car, understanding how car dealers hide scratches is essential. Buying used offers substantial savings on the purchase price, insurance, and dealer fees, making it a financially savvy option. However, the practice of concealing cosmetic flaws can impact the true value of your investment. Our guide, “How Car Dealers Hide Scratches,” reveals the top five methods dealers use: car polishes, paints, strategic mud application, showroom lighting, and selling vehicles ‘as is’. By learning these techniques, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision and ensure you’re getting the best deal for your money. Let’s dive in and uncover these hidden tactics.

How Car Dealers Hide Scratches

1. Car Polish For Scratches

The foremost method of hiding scratches that is popularly used by car dealers is car polishes. Car polishes are manufactured by companies such as Meguiar’s, Carfidant, Adam’s, etc that primarily aim to remove a noticeable scratch and restore the paint to its original color. With the help of a microfiber cloth, car polishes can be rubbed on any scratched car to remove imperfections and deceive potential customers. Along with car polishes, scratch, and swirl removers are offered by companies such as Adam’s. The scratch and swirl removers ensure to buff out the moderate scratches and the polish then restores the car paint to its original color.

2. Paint

How Car Dealers Hide Scratches With Paint

Car dealers often tend to hide and blend away the scratches through the use of paints. Light-colored paints are primarily used to blend away the scratches in a manner that they are unnoticeable by the customers. Spray paints account for an excellent choice to remove scratches on a comparatively large section of the area that needs to be covered. The way it works for car dealers is to clean up the scratched surface followed by applying fine sandpaper. Upon spraying the scratched area with the matching car color, dealers can successfully hide away any scratches or imperfections. In addition, car dealers use touch-up paints to hide or conceal scratches. Touch-up paints come with a color chart that can be used to match the original color of the car through the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

3. Mud Or Dirt

In many occurrences, car dealers deceive their respective customers by offering them mud-filled or dirty cars. The dirt or mud can overshadow the scratches in a way that is completely unnoticeable by the respective customers. Scratches are only visible to the customers, once they buy the car and get a proper car wash. By then, it is too late and customers often regret buying such cars from the dealers. In some instances, washing away mud or dirt further increases the scratches on the car which makes matters even worse for the buyers.

4. Lighting At The Car Dealership

Man At Car Dealership

Another effective method car dealers use is to conceal the scratches through the use of lighting techniques. Car dealerships and showrooms often have a strong lightning infrastructure, which ensures that the bright lights reflect away or conceal the scratches at the instance when the customer is inspecting to buy a used car. Lights not only conceal the scratches, they often give cars a shiner and glossy look which further encompasses the attention of the buyers.

5. Car Dealership Sells Vehicle “Cosmetically As Is”

In some occurrences, car dealers sell the car ‘cosmetically as is’ and abstain from using any deceiving strategies. Cosmetic damage or imperfections refer to any imperfections such as scratches that do not have an impact on the functionality and the mechanism of the vehicle. Such car dealers often show any scratches or cosmetic issues to the buyers before the time of purchase. Although such car dealers might have to sell their cars at comparatively lower prices than those who hide away cosmetic damages, they tend to build a robust relationship of trust with their customers. For customers, a car is a huge investment with some pouring their savings to be able to afford a car. Therefore, honesty goes a long way in car dealerships, as the customers tend to value such car dealers since they know they have the best interests of their customers at heart.

Dealer Sold Me A Scratched Car – What Can I Do? 

In an unethical practice, some used car dealers sell cars with hidden cosmetic damage. FitFreak reported a case involving a 2009 Honda Fit. On a sunny day, the car’s scratches were obscured by bright sunlight. The buyer, unaware, purchased the car. Only later did the scratches become apparent. Returning to the dealer, the buyer pointed out the damage. Initially, the dealer agreed to buff out the scratches. He also promised to address any further issues. However, more scratches surfaced upon closer inspection. Returning to the dealer, the buyer faced refusal for further repairs. The dealer insisted on a full repaint, an expensive option. This raises a critical question: what should you do if a car dealership sells you a car with deep scratches

When faced with the challenge of a cosmetically damaged car sold by a deceptive dealer, immediate action is crucial. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to handle such a situation:

  1. Confront the Dealer: Return to the dealership and inform them about the damage. It’s important to give the dealer a chance to rectify the situation.
  2. Consider Legal Action: If the dealer denies responsibility, you may need to explore legal options. Consumer protection laws in most countries are designed to safeguard against such fraud.
  3. Use Polishes for Minor Scratches: If legal recourse isn’t viable, addressing the scratches yourself is an option. Products from Meguiar or Carfidant can be effective in removing visible scratches.
  4. DIY Scratch Removal Steps: Clean the affected area with soap and water. After drying it with a microfiber cloth, apply the polish or scratch remover.
  5. Apply Touch-Up Paints: For deeper scratches, touch-up paints are useful. These can be matched to your car’s color using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Such paints blend seamlessly with the original car paint, making them an effective solution for concealing scratches.

Related Content: Best Car Dealer GPS Tracking Device

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Identify If A Car Dealer Has Tried To Cover Scratches On A Used Car?

Pay close attention to uneven paint surfaces, spray-painted areas, or mismatched colors. Inspect the car under different lighting conditions and always perform a thorough car wash before buying to reveal any hidden scratches.

What’s The Best Approach To Remove Light Car Scratches?

For light car scratches, use a scratch removal product available in the market, such as a rubbing compound or polishing compound. Apply it with a soft cloth in a circular motion, following the product’s instructions for the best results.

How Can I Prevent Scratches From Affecting My Car’s Resale Value?

Proactively maintain your car’s paint job by regularly washing and waxing. Fixing scratches as they occur with proper methods like touch-up paint or fine sandpaper will help preserve your car’s resale value over time.

Are There Any Professional Services For Scratch Removal?

Yes, professional scratch removal services are available, specializing in fixing moderate to deep scratches. They use advanced techniques and matched colors to restore your car’s appearance, ensuring a seamless finish.

Can Duct Tape Be Used To Hide Scratches Temporarily?

Duct tape can be a short-term solution to cover scratches, especially for cars with paint chips. However, it’s essential to remove the tape before it damages the paint further and seek a more permanent solution.


Upon purchasing a used or new car, it is the responsibility of customers to inspect used cars mechanically as well as cosmetically. Used cars are prone to defects, therefore customers should ensure they properly look for any cosmetic damages since in many occurrences scratches are concealed by the car dealers. The buyer should keep in mind the strategies used by dealers to conceal scratches, so they are not deceived and scammed into buying a damaged car

Learn how buy here pay here car dealerships use GPS tracking devices for repo by CLICKING HERE!

Matthew Henson
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