Repairing Scratches on Your Car – and When to Repaint
Scratches can occur, even if you’re a very cautious driver. If you travel on gravel, rocks can get kicked up and hit your car or poorly maintained automatic car washes can also cause surface damage to your vehicle's paint. Some minor scratches can be fixed at home, but keep in mind that repairing or repainting a scratch incorrectly can sometimes incur further damage. Here are a few tips on how to decide when it’s best to try a DIY repair or to schedule an appointment at Golden Hammer.
DIY OPTIONS FOR “BARELY THERE” SCRATCHES
If a scratch is minor or barely noticeable, there’s still a chance you can fix it at home. If the scratch is shallow and the length or width is less than an inch, you may be able to buff it out yourself. A good test is to see if your fingernail catches in the scratch.
SCRATCH REPAIR KITS
A common method to get rid of minor scratches, is using a scratch repair kit. Sometimes it is worth a try for those “barely there” scratches and can be purchased at most auto body shops, online, or in other retail stores. Most will come equipped with scratch repair polish and paste, touch up paint and buffers.
For all scratches, you’ll start by first cleaning the area with soap and water, using a microfiber cloth. This removes any debris that might cause further scratching. Next, apply the scratch removal paste to a microfiber cloth or the buffers the kit came with – not directly to the scratch – and gently buff the scratch to fill it in.
Then, use the scratch removal polish with another buffer or microfiber cloth to gently buff the scratch again. Take your time – this process can take a few minutes. Don’t repeat the buffing process more than three times, or it may erode the clear coating on the auto body.
Finally, remove any extra polish with a clean cloth, and touch up the paint as needed with the paint that came in your repair kit. Let the paint dry for 8 to 12 hours, then consider getting your car waxed to protect the paint once again.
GLAZING PUTTY KITS
If a scratch is big enough to catch your fingernail, or that you can see bare metal, it’s a bigger job – and you should consider contacting a professional. However, if you want to attempt to fix it at home, you can try using glazing putty.
Glazing putty can be purchased at most auto shops and some retail stores. This putty can fill in bigger scratches, and it’s the best method if a scratch is deep enough to see the metal beneath the paint.
In this case, you’ll again clean the area, but this time use rubbing alcohol to remove any residual wax or dirt from the area. Next, apply the putty directly to the scratch on the car. Use a spreader tool to spread it evenly and fill in the scratch. Allow it to harden for several minutes before moving on.
Finally, you’ll remove any excess putty with a liquid paint leveler and a microfiber cloth until the scratch looks flat and the area around it seems transparent. Then, you’re ready to repaint.
THE CHALLENGE OF PAINT MATCHING (DON'T CREATE MORE PROBLEMS)
Keep in mind that the paint may not be an exact match to the color and finish of your vehicle. If the scratch is large enough, a mismatched paint job will be just as noticeable as the scratch itself, so you may have to seek paint repair. If you are worried about creating more problems for yourself, a professional auto body technician has the tools and resources to repair the scratch efficiently.
AFTER AN ACCIDENT, FIND A CERTIFIED COLLISION REPAIRER NEAR YOU
Whether you were in an accident or just happened to notice a new scratch on your car, a professional technician at a local collision repair shop like Golden Hammer Collision Center will be able to get your vehicle’s scratches fixed quickly and correctly the first time. Get a free quote from us - we'll even provide a shuttle and tow your vehicle if necessary. Find out why we're The Shop with the Golden Touch!