Paint Scratches: How To Eliminate Unsightly Flaws From Your Car

Posted on: 4 May 2015

From parking lots to tree branches, your car's paint job is vulnerable to scratches from almost anywhere. Sometimes, even your best efforts to protect the car won't help you avoid damage. Luckily, if your car's been scratched, that doesn't mean you have to have a whole new paint job. In fact, with new touch-up paint options and auto body repair technology, you may be able to fix the problem much easier. Before you can do anything, though, you need to consider the scratch itself. This article will give you the information you need to repair your car. 

Yes, the Type of Scratch Matters

Look closely at what you believe is the scratch. Sometimes, it isn't a scratch at all. In some cases, what you're seeing may actually be transfer from something else. For example, if a shopping cart strikes your door, you may be seeing a black streak left behind from the rubber pad on the corner of the cart. If that's the case, you should be able to buff it off easily.

If, on the other hand, what you're seeing is clearly a gouge or scratch in the paint, you'll be able to feel the indent and the edges of the scratch when you run your finger over it. If the scratch is especially large or deep, it may require a professional auto body technician to fix it properly.

Surface Residue

In cases like the shopping cart incident, you won't need any elaborate measures to clean things up. Apply an adhesive remover or similar product to a soft rag and wipe the surface residue away. You may need to rub hard to break all of the material free, depending on what it is.

If that doesn't work, a polishing compound could get the job done. Polishing compounds are abrasive, so they'll help to break up anything left behind on the paint surface. Wash the surface with a gentle detergent. Rinse it completely, dry it, and then apply the compound. Use a thick cloth or sponge to rub the compound in a circular manner. Then, when the residue is gone from the paint, wipe the compound away with a clean, dry rag. Wash the surface again and then finish it all off with a coat of car wax.

Shallow Scratches

Scratches require a bit more effort than surface residue. If you can still see some of the car's paint in the scratch, that's a good thing. That means that it only passed through the clear coat, or perhaps through a single layer of paint. Scratches that shallow are great, because you can usually just sand and buff them out.

Use fine grit sandpaper so that you don't do any further damage to the paint surface around the scratch. Sand it only until all of the paint is even and the scratch is gone. Once sanded, wash the surface with a mild detergent. Dry it thoroughly and then apply a clear coat to protect the area.

Deep Scratches

Sand the whole area around the scratch with medium grit sandpaper. The goal is to smooth the surface and eliminate the edges of the scratch. If the scratch is deep enough that it goes all the way to the primer, you should sand the paint away to expose the primer in a small circle around the scratch.

Opt for paper designed for wet sanding for this. It's the best option for getting a clean result without any extra dust or lines in the remaining paint. Once the area around the scratch is all even, you can then apply fresh paint, buff the area and polish the whole thing.

With these tips, you can do most scratch repair yourself. If you're not comfortable doing the work on your own, you can talk to an auto body repair shop for help.