How To Remove Paint Transfer From Car? (5-Step Guide)

Last Updated On September 1, 2023

Looking to remove paint transfer from a car? 

You've come to the right place!

We know all about paint transfer problems on your car.

In this guide, you'll learn:

  • What supplies you'll need for removing paint transfer
  • Some simple steps for removing paint transfer
  • The additional information you'll need to know about removing paint transfer
How To Remove Paint Transfer From Car? (5-Step Guide)

Paint scuffs and scratches happen, so knowing what to do to the affected area will help you save money when compared to taking it to a body shop. 

Read this article for all the best solutions for removing paint transfer from a car.

So before you do remove paint transfer from a car,  I recommend you read this quick guide on how to do it like a boss!

What Do You Need To Know About How To Remove Paint Transfer From A Car?

Did you walk out to your car to find that someone has brushed into you and left one of your body panels with a different color streaked on?

What is paint transfer? 

Paint transfer is when something collides or glides into your car’s body panels, leaving a different color paint on the existing coat.

Before you spend too much money hiring a professional for the job, why not attempt to remove the paint yourself? It's worth a shot.

Here is a pro list of supplies that will help you remove transferred paint in basically any situation. 

What Supplies Will You Need For Removing Paint Transfer From A Car?

Here are a few essential supplies for removing paint transfer.

Microfiber towel

Microfiber cloth is helpful all the way through the process. 

Whether you’re scrubbing the paint transfer with soapy water or wiping off some polisher, you’ll want plenty of microfiber towels in your work area when working with paint correction and detailing. 

Clay bar

Log onto Amazon, or visit your local auto parts store to buy a detailing clay bar that helps clean overspray, paint transfer, and also works wonders to clean hard water spots off of both the windows and paint job. 

When using a clay bar on the paint, lubricate it with spray wax. When using a clay bar on the windows, lubricate it with window cleaner.


Auto paintwork requires everywhere from 120-grit sandpaper to 3000-grit for a wet-sanding clear coat. 

You’ll want sanding sponges for tight areas like under the door handles and next to trim, circular Velcro-style sander attachments if you have the luxury of a pneumatic or electric buffer, and it also doesn’t hurt to keep some square pieces of sandpaper around for simple hand sanding. 

Car wax

Carnauba wax will add the finishing touches to the job after you’re done.

There are two main types of automotive wax—-spray wax, which is quicker and applied with a rag, and a thicker consistency wax that is applied with applicator pads.

Polisher/rubbing compound 

Buy some Meguiar’s correction compound or another type of polishing compound because it’s an essential detailing product to keep around in the garage for paint restoration.

The polisher is a great scratch remover. 

Applicator pads 

You’ll want both hand applicators and circular Velcro applicators for a complete DIY set.

Electric buffer/dual-action sander

Using an electric buffer will help you to get the job done faster by allowing you to easily perform wet sanding, paint correction/polishing, and waxing, etc.

Read More >> How Do You Remove Spray Paint From A Car?

Step-By-Step Guide On How To Remove Paint Transfer From A Car

Now that you know what supplies you'll need for removing paint transfer from your car, check out the step-by-step tutorial below so you can try it for yourself.

(Click on any of the links below to jump ahead to that step!)

  1. Car wash/Evaluating situation
  2. Start with light fix
  3. Move towards heavier fixes
  4. Sand/buff/wax
  5. Evaluate results

Step 1 - Car wash/evaluating situation

Every situation with paint transfer is different. For example, if there is heavy body damage, you might be better off taking your car to a body shop to have a professional handle the paintwork for you.

In any case, washing the car will clean off any loose material and give you a good vision of how to act next.

A quick reminder for washing your car at home: Rinse the car off beforehand, then use a bucket full of car wash soap and warm water to scrub the car down.

After the car is all sudsy, use the garden hose or even a bucket of clean water to douse the car off to cleanliness and give you a clear view of your car’s paint.

Step 2 - Start with light fix solutions

The idea when correcting paint is to start light and move your way to heavier abrasion to remove more material if necessary.

A professional would start by using a clay bar and some spray wax to see if the paint comes off, and even simpler would be a wet rag with soapy, warm water.  

Heck, some paint transfer might even come off by rubbing it with your finger.

If the clay bar doesn’t work, it’s time to dry a polishing compound with an applicator pad. 

Polishing or paint correction compounds generally work really well for scratch repair, and you’ll be surprised at how new the paint job turns out when performing paint correction with an electric buffer or dual-action pneumatic tool with an applicator pad attached.

Step 3 - Move towards heavier fixes

If lighter solutions like the clay bar or correction compound didn’t work, it’s time to remove even more paint material with the hopes of removing the paint transfer without going all the way through the base coat.

To do this, you can try fine-grit sandpaper (1500-2000-grit) and a dual-action sander or orbital sander.

Another technique you could try is applying a chemical solvent like acetone, but be careful with toxic chemicals as they can remove too much paint.

Remember to use safety glasses and rubber gloves when working with chemicals, and dab them onto the surface instead of rub to avoid removing too much paint.

If you happen to remove too much paint, you’ll have to perform a touch-up before moving to the next step.

See our page on how to correct touch-up paint on your car. 

Step 4 - Buff/wax

After you have removed the paint transfer and touched up necessary spots, it’s time to blend in the affected area with the surrounding paint on the body panel.

Start with applying correction compound, wipe it clean, and add a carnauba wax-like turtle wax to shine up the finish.

The key when using an electric buffer to apply a polishing compound is to apply a few dots onto the applicator and place the buffer flush onto the surface of the car. 

Turn the electric buffer on at higher RPMs when polishing (2000+Rpm), and let the buffer spin on top of the body panel without applying too much pressure.

Remember, if you press too hard when performing paint correction, you can cause burn marks and even remove the paint completely, so be careful.

Buff and wax in a circular motion for the most consistent look on the painted surface.  

Waxing with an electric buffer or pneumatic device is done at lower RPM (600-1000). 

Use a microfiber cloth to wipe away both excess polishing compound and wax when blending the paint back to a normal-looking finish. 

Step 5 - Evaluate results 

Now it’s time to shine some light on the surface to critique your work.

This step is especially important if you are doing work for a client because some car owners are very picky about their paint jobs.

We recommend a bright flashlight to hit all angles of the repair, and you can also try parking in and out of the shade to ensure the paint job looks impeccable once again. 

Read More >> How Do You Touch Up Car Paint Yourself?

Did you know: It can cost anywhere from $150 to $500 to fix a car's paint job depending on where you go.  Just another great reason to learn to DIY it!

Other Valuable Resources on Removing Paint Transfer From A Car 

After your paint job is corrected, we recommend hiring a professional retailer to install a ceramic coating on all of your body panels.

A clear ceramic coating is a protective layer great for eliminating the need for detailing the exterior of your car. 

In a small collision? Be polite. Whether it’s your fault or the other person’s fault, you should always trade insurance information just in case.

Not sure what to do? Asking a professional is always a good idea.

How much does it cost for professional paint correction? A body shop or pro detailer will charge you anywhere from $50 all the way up into the thousands depending on the damage done to your vehicle.

Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

Ryan Nichols

Ryan Nichols

I first painted professionally in my late teens. I have painted everything from long military base walls to spraying cedar wood siding on cabins in the mountains of Utah. I am also an automotive technician with plenty of auto body and paint experience. In my spare time, I even enjoy artistic oil painting.

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Ryan Nichols

Ryan Nichols

I first painted professionally in my late teens. I have painted everything from long military base walls to spraying cedar wood siding on cabins in the mountains of Utah. I am also an automotive technician with plenty of auto body and paint experience. In my spare time, I even enjoy artistic oil painting.

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