Removing scratches from car paint

Written by josh baum
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Removing scratches from car paint

Inspecting a Car Paint Scratch

Before making an attempt to repair a scratch in the paint of a car, you need to take time to inspect each scratch carefully. Do this in a well-lit area, and, if necessary, use a magnifying glass to get a closer look. What you're really looking for is the depth of the scratch; many superficial scratches go through the clear coat and paint only, and these are the types of scratches that you can easily clean at home. But if find that the scratch has penetrated the primer, which is the finish layer underneath the paint, don't attempt a quick and easy repair. Once the primer is exposed, that area of your car becomes vulnerable to corrosion that can spread throughout your vehicle underneath the paint. If you can see silver, grey or any non-paint colouration in the deepest part of the scratch, chances are you've exposed the primer. The best thing to do in these cases is to bite the bullet and take your car to an auto bodyworks garage. You'll pay more for the repair than you would if you were doing it yourself, but it's better than paying a truly huge bill once rust spreads throughout the body of your car.

Using Scratch Removal Products

There are numerous products that claim to be helpful in smoothing and buffing out auto paint scratches. Most of these products are liquids and gels, and they can be purchased online or from stores that sell auto body and repair products (see Resources). There are dozens of these products, so it pays to shop carefully. A good way to figure out which product to trust is to ask friends and family members about their experiences with these types of products. If you know someone who takes exceptionally good care of his car, he may have some insights. Looking online at automotive blogs and individual product reviews is another effective way of evaluating these products (see Resources). Most of these products are applied in the same way: they're smoothed over the scratches with a soft cloth, allowed to sit for a few minutes, and buffed out with a polishing cloth or small motorised buffer.

Using Touch-Up Paint

Touch-up paint is an alternative to scratch-removing solutions; however, it can be more difficult to use successfully. The complicated part is matching the colour of your car's finish, but there are a few sure-fire approaches to this problem. One way is to contact your car manufacturer's nearest dealership and find out if you can order factory-matched touch-up paint directly from them. If not, their auto body specialists may be able to tell you where else you can buy matching paint for your specific car colour. Another approach is to order custom-matched touch-up paint from a company that specialises in this service. Local auto body and paint shops in your area may also be able to do this. Once you have a well-matched touch-up paint, all you have to do is apply a thin layer over each scratch using a small paintbrush and let it dry. For the best results, keep the area well polished.

Other Methods

There are a few other repair techniques that do not involve the use of any products designed for removing paint scratches, but that can still be effective. Since these are non-traditional approaches, car owners use them at their own risk. Clear fingernail polish has a history of being used as a scratch repair solution for cars and other items with similar finishes, like electric guitars. For a short-term solution, a well-matched wax crayon can often fill in and obscure scratches fairly easily. Sometimes very superficial scratches can actually be buffed out with sandpaper, too. But if you try this technique, be sure to use a very high grit sandpaper--2,000 grit or higher. Any coarser, and you can end up doing more damage than good.

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