It’s easy to become discontent with an older car because of lots of small imperfections like paint transfer scuffs. I think it’s important to maintain old cars so they can still look and function their best. It’s much easier to stay happy with a car when it’s looking nice, and driving an older paid-off car is much easier on your budget than a new car.
Paint transfer is the term used when paint from another object (or car) transfers onto your car’s paint. This can happen when another car’s door is bumped into yours or when you scrape your car against something like a parking bumper, pole, or a garage. Unfortunately, I know an awful lot about paint transfer on cars. When we bought this house, we were aware that it had two single garage doors (instead of a double) but never thought much about it… until we tried to pull a van into it!
Since there is a structural support beam in the center of our garage, there’s nothing we can do to change the situation (without costly structural changes to the house). Remember those cone exams when you took your driving test? I get to do that every day! As you can imagine, when I am tired or have screaming kids in the car, sometimes I get distracted and end up with garage paint rubbed onto my car. The good news is that I get to share what I learned about removing those paint transfer scuffs with you! It’s shockingly cheap and easy to remove those ugly scuffs.
Currently, on the driver’s side, we had a large amount of white paint transfer, as well as a small dent. The passenger side also has some paint transfer with a scrape that goes deeper into my car’s paint.
There are a variety of commercial auto buffing compounds that you can purchase, but I wanted to see if I could use a cheap and easy method first. I had heard that toothpaste can work on paint transfers because all toothpastes are mildly abrasive. Whitening toothpaste is usually recommended for these kinds of jobs because it is slightly more abrasive than regular toothpaste (that’s how it whitens your teeth!). I dug around in my basket of toiletry samples that I keep around for guests or traveling and found two kinds of toothpaste: regular Crest and Aquafresh “extreme clean whitening”. I grabbed an old rag towel and got to work!
Here’s what to do to clean off the paint scuffs:
- Moisten the rag so it’s a bit damp.
- Put a small dab of toothpaste onto the rag.
- Scrub the paint transfer scuff. You have to put a bit of muscle into it!
- When the paint scuff is gone, wipe off the toothpaste with a clean, wet rag.
That’s it! It only took 5-10 minutes per side and it made a HUGE improvement! I did find that the whitening toothpaste worked better than the non-whitening. If you only have regular around, though, it can still work. It might just take a bit longer.
As you can see, they’re still not perfect because there is a dent and a deeper scratch still remaining. I’m much happier with how it looks now, though. Most people wouldn’t be taking close-up pictures of my old van and aren’t going to see these minor imperfections. I may try some home solutions for popping out the dent, but it’s a tricky one because of the location and curve of the metal.
Here’s some side-by-side comparison photos before and after my toothpaste cleaning:
I am very happy with the results! My old van is looking much nicer now.
Do you have any paint transfer scuffs on your car that could use the toothpaste treatment? Please comment below.