Car Paint Scratch Repair
Tips for better results!

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Sooner or later, any car owner will be faced with some form of car paint scratch repair. Whether you choose to take on the challenge or not is a different question. My experience in the world of professional auto detailing has taught me that most people do not realize the options available today; many of which were unavailable just a short time ago.

Even the most basic of car paint care can be an overwhelming and scary task to many inexperienced people. With so many choices and conflicting opinions, often people choose to simply do nothing. Even a starting point can be difficult, never mind a viable solution to the many forms of paint damage that we can be faced with as car owners.

Not All Scratches Created Equal

car paint scratch repair

As the saying goes, "Not all scratches are created equal". When it comes to the many insults your cars paint can face, scratches can represent various problem solving as not only are not all scratches and paint chips created equal, but you may have a single scratch represent more than one variable.

This single scratch to the right represents a common problem to many car owners, and represents a scratch with different levels of depth. This means that one single solution may not be the remedy for this particular car paint scratch repair. Most people automatically assume that reaching for some car touch up paint is always the solution to paint scratches in your car. We will examine the options available for the "Do-it-Yourself" strategy.

Car Touch-up Paint

car paint touch up paint

I will start here since this is the most obvious to people and represents one of the easiest forms of car paint scratch repair. These types of touch-up car paint applications can be purchased at the dealership of the make of your car. Generic forms of this paint can also be purchased at retail car care outlets, like Pepe Boys for example.

  • A rather quick and easy solution to paint scratches of substantial damage.
  • Use for the deep scratches where there is actual room for the paint to lay into.
  • Also a solution for rock chips normally frequently found on the leading edges of car.
  • This form of car paint touch-up can be problematic due to inconsistency of the paint in the applicators; often the paint will either be too thin and runny, or too thick and sticky.
  • Finger nail polish does a pinch.
  • Permanent markers can also work in a greater pinch.

Car Paint Scratch Removers

These types of products can be as simple as finding a polish with abrasives, to kits designed to do what is called wet sanding. The wet sanding kits are the most aggressive form of car paint scratch repair. Kits come complete with the necessary items for sanding and polishing away scratches. Since every scratch is unique, some car paint scratches can be removed completely by sanding and polishing, while some scratches can merely be diminished or camouflaged.

The graph to the right illustrates the cut-away of the different layers to your cars body panels in regards to car paint. Most cars are finished with a clear coat layer, and when scratches are contained within this layer, the area can be sanded down until the scratch has been completely removed. Once the scratch is completely gone, an aggressive form of car polish is then used to polish away the sanding marks left by the sanding paper.

Usually the sanding is done with what is called wet sanding paper since it is resistant to water, and used along with water. The area is then finished with a layer of what you would consider to be your choice as the best car wax. Most experts follow what is called the fingernail test; if you can catch the edge of the car paint scratch with your fingernail, then most likely it is too deep for complete removal and can simply be diminished.

Even as a professional with decades of experience, I never know exactly what is possible until I am there dealing with it.

Darren's Recommendations

The recommendations immediately below are simple fixes and represent some solutions for those "emergency" fix moments that may arise.

Nail Polish

  • Yes, it will work in a pinch.

Permanent Markers

  • Yes, these will also work in a pinch.
  • Since Sharpie has come out with even more permanent marker colors, you now have even more options for this temporary fix.

Rubbing Alcohol

  • A very common household product.
  • The first and easiest possible solution for surface marks which may be dirt or transfer.
  • When used first, this will usually determine if you have a scratch, or a superficial mark, dirt, or transfer.
  • Often, additional scratches will remain below these surface marks once removed.

Professional Grade Car Paint Scratch Repair

For a truly comprehensive approach to the many types of car paint scratches and chips, shop among the various car paint chip and scratch repair kits from below:

Dr. Colorchip:

  • Ideal kit for the dreaded road rash of endless paint chips of freeway driving.
  • Amazing the difference this one kit alone can provide for the overall appearance of your car.

Langka Wet-Sand Kit:

  • For scratches that you want to attempt complete removal of.
  • Comes complete with everything needed to wet-sand those scratches away.

Langka Paint Chip Repair Kit:

  • Another choice for paint chip repairs versus car paint scratches.
  • Comes complete for any DIY-er.

3M Scratch Removal:

  • Trusted name in car polishes and compounds.
  • Sanding discs and polish pads attach to any typical household drill motor.

3M Scratch Remover:

  • Very mild form of abrasive polish.
  • Not recommended for any scratch you can catch your finger nail with; would not be aggressive enough.
  • Convenient to have around for use on the endless superficial scratches your car naturally accumulates (light the light scratches under and around door handles)

In Conclusion:

At this point you should have more than enough information to make an informed decision in dealing with the type of car paint scratch repair or chip repair on your car. Just remember, not all scratches are created equal and even professionals like myself can't remove every scratch; it truly is a case by case and any of these kits can deliver excellent results.

You can help me by paying it forward and sharing this information to your favorite social media site and let others learn from the information I have spent much time compiling.


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