After a few years (or months) of use, most of our vehicles begin losing that new-car feeling. This may be due to the fact that many of us become less strict when it comes to keeping the interior clean and spotless. Over time, the daily wear and tear from transporting luggage, groceries, and children leads to many small imperfections, such as scratches and marks.

These marks do not look great, especially if you take pride in your vehicle. However, on top of this, they will also heavily decrease your car's value if you eventually want to sell it.

While you could simply drop your car off at the local repair shop to have these scratches fixed, it is actually easy to do this from home. Plus, you will be able to save plenty of money by completing the task yourself. For your convenience, we have made a step-by-step list that you can follow when looking at how to remove scratches from plastic car interior.

What You Will Need

The first thing that you will need to do when repairing the scratches on your plastic interior paneling is to ensure that you have all the necessary tools. If you wish to obtain a professional finish, it will be worth investing in the following equipment:

  • A heat gun - This will be the most expensive item on the list. With that being said, you will get plenty of use out of it, which makes it worth the purchase.
  • An interior grain pad - This will be used to retexture the plastic after it has been molded back into the correct shape.
  • Sandpaper - It is recommended that you purchase a sheet that has a super fine grit.
  • Interior car cleaner - It is important that you invest in a cleaner that will remove any ingrained dirt from the plastic's surface. Also, make sure that the product is designed for use in cars.

Once you have all the necessary tools and equipment, you can get started on repairing the interior of your vehicle. For extra safety, find yourself a pair of heat-resistant gloves before getting to work.

The Process

Contrary to popular belief, restoring scratches and marks on the plastic paneling of your car is actually a very simple and quick process. On top of this, doing it from home is a much more cost-effective method than taking your vehicle to a professional to have it fixed.

Step One: Clean the Area

The first step in repairing the plastic paneling of your car is cleaning the damaged area. As we have already mentioned, it is important that you invest in a cleaner that is designed for cars. You will then use this product to wipe away any ingrained dirt or particles that may have gotten stuck in and around the scratch.

This is an essential step, as it will ensure that you obtain a smooth finish and do not end up with dirt stuck in the melted plastic. Once you are finished, make sure that the area is dry before moving on to the next step.

Step Two: Apply Heat To the Area

Now, it is time to warm up your heat gun. Generally, it will not need to be any hotter than half power. Start by gently applying the heat to the plastic until it begins to soften slightly. Make sure that you do not expose one piece of plastic to the heat for too long, as it could end up becoming damaged. When the plastic is ready for molding, it will appear slightly glossy and lose all of its texture.

Step Three: Apply a Grain Pad To the Area

Once the plastic is ready for molding, quickly apply a grain pad to the area. Make sure that you do not add too much pressure, as it could create a dent in the area. In the end, this should smooth out the scratch and give the plastic a nice texture, ensuring that it blends into the rest of the paneling.

Step Four: Let the Area Cool and Harden

Once you have finished molding the plastic, leave it for a few minutes to cool and harden. If you are not satisfied with the look of the paneling, you could always go back and repeat the process. It is very important that you select a grain pad that matches the texture of the rest of your car.

Once you are happy, use the sandpaper to gently sand down the plastic. This will give it a smooth and authentic look, ensuring that it does not stand out too much from the rest of the plastic.

Step Five: Clean the Area Again

Once you have completed all of the previous steps, it is very important that you go back and clean the area one more time. Using the same plastic cleaner as before, wipe down the remolded area and get rid of any unwanted dirt. Finally, use a clean cloth to dry the area, and you will be finished.

In Brief

For starters, you should clean the area that will be molded - this will prevent any dirt from getting stuck in the plastic when it is heated. Once finished, heat up the heat gun and gently apply it to the scratched area. When the material is glossy and loses its texture, you can use a grain pad to match the plastic to the rest of the paneling.

Let the area cool and harden for a few minutes. Finally, take the plastic cleaner and wipe down the area one more time. After you dry the area with a clean cloth, you will be finished.

Final Thoughts

Removing and fixing scratches and marks that have accumulated on the plastic paneling of your vehicle is actually a very easy and simple process. To get the job done, all you will need a plastic cleaner, a heat gun, sandpaper, and a few grain pads (find sheets that match the interior paneling of your car as closely as possible).



I grew up working on my own cars and motorcycles and 15 years later I love still getting my hands dirty.