How to Repair a Key Scratch on a Car

Written by kevin ann reinhart
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How to Repair a Key Scratch on a Car
A key scratch on your car need not ruin your day. (holding car key image by Photosani from Fotolia.com)

A key scratch on your car is an unsightly blemish, but often not enough to incur the expense of a new paint job. An analysis of the extent of the damage will help you to choose the best way to repair it. Run your fingernail over the surface at a 90 degree angle to the scratch. If your nail grabs into the scratch, the damage may be through the clear coat, base coat and primer and down to the substrate. If you can feel the scratch, but just barely, the damage may be confined to the clear coat. If your nail runs cleanly over the surface and you cannot feel the scratch at all, the repair will be easy.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Soapy water
  • Clear water
  • Micro fibre rag
  • Oscillating sander
  • Light cut pad
  • Light cut compound
  • Heavy cut pad
  • Heavy cut compound
  • Polishing compound
  • Foam polishing pad
  • Oscillating polisher
  • Wool pad
  • Touch up paint
  • Fine brush

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Run your fingernail over the scratch. If you cannot feel it at all, the fix will be quick and easy.

  2. 2

    Clean the scratched area with soap and water. Rinse with clear water and dry with a micro fibre rag.

  3. 3

    Place a light cut pad on the disc of your oscillating polisher. Add light cut compound to the pad. Gently run the polisher along the length of the scratch until the it is removed.

  1. 1

    Run your fingernail over the scratch. If you can feel it, but just barely, the fix will take longer.

  2. 2

    Clean the scratched area with soap and water. Rinse with clear water and dry with a micro fibre rag.

  3. 3

    Place a heavy cut pad on the disc of your oscillating polisher. Gently run the polisher along the length of the scratch until the scratch is removed. Swirl marks will likely remain.

  4. 4

    Place a light cut pad on the disc of your oscillating polisher. Add light cut compound to the pad.

  5. 5

    Finish with a foam polishing pad on your oscillating polisher. Add polishing compound to the pad and run the polisher over any swirl marks until they are no longer visible.

  1. 1

    Purchase touch-up paint for your make and model of car from a local car dealer. This paint should match the metallic look or gloss of your original, factory applied surface. Apply the paint using a fine tipped brush. Allow to dry.

  2. 2

    Attach a wool pad to your oscillating polisher. Add a light cut polish. Run the polisher over the dried touch-up paint. The heat from the wool pad will cure the touch-up paint and seal it into the scratch. Allow to dry.

  3. 3

    Place a foam polishing pad on your oscillating polisher. Add polishing compound to the pad and polish out any swirl marks that may still appear.

Tips and warnings

  • Buy touch-up paint at your car dealership. The formula is more likely to match the original finish of your vehicle.
  • Use a mask when operating your oscillating sander.
  • Sand in a protected, well ventilated area.

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