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How to Remove Paint Transfer from a Car Bumper in 5 Easy Steps

So you’ve got a trace of paint on your vehicle, now what? Not to worry, there are options to remove the paint transfer from your bumper or car surface.

Not too long ago, I scraped a pole at a drive-through leaving quite a bit of red paint on my bumper and figured out a few ways to remove it.

In this blog, I’ll share a few products you may already have that you can try.  Proceed with caution, as it really depends on how severe the paint transfer is on your vehicle, and how much. 

As a disclaimer, we assume no responsibility, injury or vehicle that may occur as a result.

1. Wash with soap and water

wash car with soap and water

Before attempting to remove any paint, it’s a good idea to wash and dry your vehicle, or at least the affected area with soap and water.

Dirt and debris may scratch your bumper if the affected area is dirty, so it’s a good idea to remove any loose particles before getting started. Also, be sure to grab a couple of soft microfiber towels.

Certain chemicals can strip paint off of a painted bumper if used improperly, so make sure you start by assessing whether you are looking to remove light scratches, or thick stuck-on paint.

2. Apply rubbing compound or scratch remover

Once your bumper is free of debris, rubbing compound should do the trick if paint transfer is minimal and you have a painted bumper surface. Apply the rubbing compound with a soft microfiber towel and gently work the paste into the affected area. Only apply a very small amount of compound where you want the paint transfer removed, and be gentle since compound is slightly abrasive.

You can pick up a can of Turtle Wax compound for a few bucks on Amazon; you don’t need anything expensive for this use case.

Turtle Wax Rubbing Compound and Cleaner

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For chrome bumpers only, I suggest applying a product like Goof Off or a lacquer thinner with a soft cloth. Be sure to not make contact with any painted surface of your vehicle, as it will obviously eat through your clear coat and take the paint off of your vehicle.

In cases where paint transfer is very minor, scratch remover can be effective in place of rubbing compound. If all else fails, proceed to step 3.

3. Apply spray-on WD-40 (if necessary)

WD-40 is known to be a good option for removing light surface scratches but also has been known to help loosen dried paint on your bumper. The Aerosol WD-40 spray works great for this, as you will be able to cover the entire area evenly. 

WD-40 Fast-Acting Penetrant

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You may want to repeat this process a few times to maximize its effectiveness if the paint is not coming off with a microfiber cloth.

4. Use a magic eraser to gently remove stuck-on paint (if necessary)

If you’re still having problems with stuck-on paint, apply a second coat of WD-40. Once it has had time to loosen stuck-on paint, gently apply pressure with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to begin removing the paint.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

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The surface of the magic eraser is slightly abrasive but gentle enough to not scratch if you are careful. Proceed with caution and always work in the direction of the paint transfer, and not against the grain.

Always be super careful when applying compounds or anything abrasive.

5. Finish with polish, and detailer spray

car detail spray

Once the paint transfer is completely removed, apply polish to remove any residue left over by the WD-40 or compound.

Polish is not abrasive like compound is, and is good for taking out scratches the compound may have left when it was doing its job in removing the excess paint. As a last step, you may want to hit the area with some clear detailing spray and a final wipedown.

I hope this post has been helpful and will help you restore your bumper (or another area of your car or truck) back to its original condition.

Keep in mind all steps may not be needed, as it really depends on the severity of the paint transfer.

Looking to clean up the inside of your car this season? Check out my post 17 Interior Detailing Tips the Pros Keep a Secret for a few tips to try.

Baxter Overman is the founder of Carwash Country and has been been cleaning up dirty vehicles for nearly 20 years. Since 2017, he's helped thousands of beginners see better results by learning the fundamentals of washing and detailing. He's on a mission to make the car wash process more fun...and way easier.

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