Like a scar, a scratch on your smooth, shiny vehicle can be devastating. No matter who is to blame—you, a friend, a cruel stranger, or just a tree branch—if you love your car, your eye will always go straight to that scratch. You could have your entire car resprayed, but that can cost thousands of dollars. Or if you’re a billionaire, you could buy a whole new car! But let’s look at the situation logically and consider how to fix a car scratch without spending a lot of money. It’s easier than you’d think to retouch a scratch and if you do it right, you might forget it was ever there!
How to Fix a Car Scratch
First, consider the physical and environmental conditions. Take a good look at the car’s wound to see what you’re dealing with. If it’s just a thin, white line, the damage is minimal and shouldn’t be too difficult to cover. If it’s a deeper scratch though, that reveals metal or the color of the body, you should be more concerned. Then, consider the weather, which can affect the paint’s ability to adhere and be glossy. Ideally, the temperature will be in the 70s (in degrees Fahrenheit), but between 60 and 85 should work as well. If it’s windy or sunny, you should be working in your garage, and it’s best if the humidity is less than 60 percent.
How to Fix a Car Scratch That’s Small
If the scratch has only damaged the top, clear coat, you can easily polish the scratch away.
First, clean the surface well to remove any trapped dirt or debris. If the scratch is near a window, mirror, or trim, you might want to protect the area with painter’s tape. Once the area is ready, apply a bit of polishing compound to either the pad that comes with the polish or to a terry/microfiber cloth. Polish the area slowly (focusing only on the small area that needs it) and then use a clean cloth to rub it dry.
How to Fix a Car Scratch That’s Deep
If the scratch is a bit deeper, you’ll need to get out your paintbrush.
First, figure out your car’s paint code. You can usually find this on a sticker or metal plaque under the hood or in the doorsill. Match this color to the touchup paint colors available at an auto parts store. If nothing looks right, you could try the parts counter at your car’s dealership or ask an auto paint dealer to mix you a customized shade (bring in something like a gas cap or mirror for them to match it to).
Then, after you’ve cleaned the area to remove any dirt or wax, carefully apply the paint to the scratch. Of course it’s very difficult to apply the paint only to the scratch, so you will probably have paint overlapping the area a bit. Try to minimize this as much as you can. After you’ve allowed the paint to cure for at least a night, sand the area until the surface is smooth with 600-1000 grit sandpaper. Check your progress often and work slowly so that you don’t damage the surrounding area. After that, use compound on the damaged area for gloss.
If the surface isn’t completely smooth and spotless, apply more paint and repeat the steps until the area is level. Don’t forget to end the process with another compounding for that shiny, glossy finish. Also, don’t wax your car for at least 30 days so that solvents can escape.
If only all scars could heal so quickly! Learning how to fix a car scratch is easy when you follow our simple tips. But if you’re nervous about working on your car and would rather leave it to the professionals, give Dings ‘n Things a call. We would be happy to fix that scratch for you.