Road debris, flying rocks, wind-blown sand, all play havoc with a car’s paint job leaving scratches from tiny to huge. These little every day imperfections make a car look old and uncared for. That doesn’t have to be the case though; with a little elbow grease, knowledge and the right product you can send those annoying scratches on their way and bring back the shining new car look that your car once had.
Know your Scratch
Believe it or not, not all scratches are equal. You may think a scratch is simply a scratch. However, in actuality there are a couple of different types of scratches and each type requires its own type of treatment.
The first type of scratch are the scratches referred to as a Clear Coat Scratch. Clear Coat Scratches simply scratch to top surface of the paint and remove the clear coating to expose deeper layers of paint to corrosion and eventually chipping.
The second type of scratch is called a Base-Coat/Primer scratch. This kind of scratch is deeper than a Clear Coat Scratch and actually removes the paint leaving exposed primer or metal behind. These types of scratches are a little more difficult to repair, but not too difficult if you know what you are doing and have the patience to do it correctly.
Different Scratch Repair Methods
For a Clear Coat Scratch you can use a special abrasive polish to polish or buff out tiny scratches and imperfections. This should be done in small localized areas to avoid completely removing the clear coat from the areas that surround the scratch. This method may take several treatments to completely remove the scratch properly. Simply follow the specific instructions for the brand of polish you are using. If using a buffer, use a light hand. Buffers are very powerful and can quickly remove the paint if used too aggressively.
For Base-Coat/Primer Scratches you will need touch-up paint. Touch-up paints can be located at your local auto parts shop, or dealership. To figure out what paint color you need, look at your driver’s side door panel label for the “paint code”. This is the stock number for the
paint color used by the manufacturer when your car was built.
Touch-up paint must be done in layers that have at least a full day to dry in between applications. This is due to the shrinking that happens during the drying process. Applying the touch-up paint gradually also avoids dripping, uneven drying, and bulges or bubbling that sometimes occurs when too thick of a coat is applied at once. Follow your products instructions to the letter, and you should be fine.
Automotive scratch repair is a simple, but sometimes time consuming process depending on the type of scratch and the products you use to repair them. However doing this repair yourself will save you a lot of money in the long run while keeping your car looking its very best.