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How can I fix masking tape marks left on my car paint?

The masking tape you used to paint your car left lines or textured marks in the dried paint. This is known as tape tracking. It can be repaired by applying compound and polishing or, in severe cases, sanding and refinishing.  

In this article, I’ll answer common questions about how to prevent tape tracking and eliminate it when it happens.

What is tape tracking?

Tape tracking (also called tracks) describes the imprinted line or texture showing up in the auto paint from the use of masking tape.

What causes tape tracking?

There are a couple of reasons why tape tracking happens:

  1. You did not allow the finish to dry before taping. This caused the solvent to become trapped between the finish and the tape.
  2. You used non-automotive tape for multi-color finishes. In this case, solvents from the additional color-soaked through the tape and into the previous color.

How can I repair a surface with tape tracking?

There are three ways you can fix a surface showing signs of tape tracking:

  1. You can apply compound and polish to remove the tape tracking.
  2. You can sand the area with 1500-2000 grit sandpaper, then apply compound and polish to restore the gloss.
  3. For severe cases, you can sand and refinish.

How do I prevent tape tracking?

You can prevent tape tracking from appearing in your car paint by following these tips:

Taking these steps will keep tape tracking from happening to your paint finish.