If you’re like most Americans, you spend a fair amount of time behind the wheel of your car. Studies show that we drive an average of 29.2 miles per day for a total of 10,658 miles per year!
Given how often we find ourselves in our vehicles, it’s no surprise that many of us grow attached to our rides. Of course, all that time on the road means it can be hard to protect our vehicles as much as we’d like—whether that means minor dings or major car scratches.
If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a fender bender or scrape, don’t get discouraged. The truth is that it’s not hard to repair and prevent car scratches, either on your own or with expert help. No matter which option you prefer, here’s what you should know about getting your car to look as good as new.
DIY Car Scratch Repair Tips
Here’s the good news: if your car paint scratch is minor enough, you may be able to fix it on your own without the hefty bill for professional service. Of course, it helps if you know a little about the different types of car scratches, as the repair depends on how far down the scratch goes.
Understanding the Layers of Paint on Your Car
The paint on your vehicle is set in a few layers. At the bottom, just above the metal body of the car, is the primer. Next is the base coat—the colored layer of paint that you see—and above it is the clear coat, which is a transparent protective layer.
If you’re dealing with a shallow scratch that only affects the uppermost coats, you’re in luck. These minor scratches may be easy to address on your own.
Fixing Shallow Scratches
Start by washing the surface of your car to remove any grime, dirt, or dust.
From there, you’ll want to use 2,000- or 3,000-grit sandpaper to sand the finish until the area looks dull and the scratch is harder to see. In some cases, you may also be able to get results from using toothpaste on a clean cloth. You can also try using a scratch-removal solution, which you can find at any home improvement store.
Note that if you’re dealing with a scratch on only the clear coat layer, you may not need to sand at all.
Next, you’ll use a cloth to apply rubbing compound to the affected area. Use small circles until you notice that the scratch isn’t visible anymore.
Last, you’ll apply a layer of wax or polishing compound, which can bring the surface of your car back to its glossy luster.
Fixing Deep Scratches
If you’re hoping to fix a deeper blemish on your car, your best bet is to find a touch-up kit that matches the color of your paint.
You’ll need to follow the instructions listed on the kit for the best results. However, in general, you’ll sand the area as described above, use a scuffing pad on the resulting dull surface, and reapply the primer, touch-up paint, and clear coat yourself. This allows you to match the look of the rest of your vehicle.
When to Seek Professional Car Scratch Repair
If you’re dealing with a significant scrape—especially one that you’re afraid reaches down to the primer layer or even the base metal layer of your car—you may need a professional’s help. This is extra important if the scrape is a large one that takes up a great deal of real estate on your car.
In addition, if your scratch has impacted the shape of your car by creating noticeable dents and bumps, a simple paint touch up won’t fix the issue.
You may also want to get a professional to do the repair if you’re not confident in your own abilities to match the look of the rest of your vehicle.
Touch-up kits have come a long way in terms of streamlining the process and matching the look of a car’s paint job, but these kits can’t guarantee perfect results. If you’re hoping to get your car back to a factory finish, a pro is the way to go—but if you aren’t worried about a little inconsistency in your car’s paint, DIY can get the job done.
DIY Prevention for Car Scratches
Once your car looks good as new, you’ll want to make sure it stays that way. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy ways you can prevent car scratches yourself.
First and foremost, drive defensively and make sure to give yourself enough room on all sides of your car. You should also take care where you park your vehicle, avoiding any unsafe locations or uneven parking jobs that leave your car at risk.
It’s also a good idea to hand-wash your car instead of using automatic car washes, which sometimes use abrasive brushes. Be sure to use high-quality cleaning solutions instead of any products that use abrasive materials. Waxing your car on a regular basis can add another layer of protection as well.
Professional Car Scratch Prevention
Want to get an expert’s help when it comes to protecting your car? Talking with your local car mechanic can help you get insights specific to your vehicle, but in general, there are two great methods of doing this.
First, you can have a professional install a liquid sealant to add some extra durability to your vehicle. This sealant acts as a shield atop the clear coat layer of your car.
Next, you can get a professional automotive wrap from an expert installer like Supreme Wraps Dallas. Unique to each car, these durable protective wraps can last years, and they can mimic the color, finish, and design you choose. What’s more, they can not only protect your underlying paint job, but they also add an extra layer of protection over the surface of your entire car.
Make the Most of Your Ride
No one likes driving around with an unsightly car scratch, and with these easy tips, there’s no reason to! Whether you prefer to tackle the fix yourself or hand your vehicle over to an expert, the simple strategies above can get your ride looking as good as new in no time. Consider your goals and your preferences in terms of the final look to decide which option is best for your car.
Want more tips and tricks to help you make the most of your ride? Be sure to take a look at our other auto and motor guides as well!