How to Fix Paint Scratches

You spend a hard-earned fortune on your beloved vehicle only for it to come out scratched after a routine car wash. Or worse, after a bad break up. Even if the scratch is in a place where most people will never see it, you know it’s there. So, it bothers you. Below are a few tips on how to handle superficial paint scratches without dents.


As long as your car is not over 20 years old or custom-painted, the paint on most vehicles is typically a clear-coated catalyzed enamel. There are many layers of paint, and the first step is to determine what kind of scratch your car has endured. There are three different types of scratches, and each type requires a different approach.


- A Clearcoat scratch – A clearcoat scratch is the most superficial type of scratch as it only ruins the first layer of paint. In a clearcoat scratch, the paint and primer aren’t affected.


- Paint scratch –  A paint scratch occurs when the scratch goes deeper past the clear coat and into the paint itself.


- Deep scratch – A deep scratch is the worst type of scratch your car can endure because it requires a professional to repair. This type of scratch happens when the paint damage goes all the way to the metal, cutting through the clear coat, paint, and the primer.


Clearcoat and paint scratches often can be fixed with products found at your local automotive shop. Before you begin fixing the scratch, it is best to hand-wash your car first to clean off any dirt or grime. Once your vehicle is clean, use a clay bar or a Nano-skin towel to buff the surface. This simple method should easily remove any swirls and hairline scratches. Once completed, give your car a good wax and hand buff. Most of the superficial scratches should disappear at this point. If this does not work for you, there are DIY kits you can purchase with additional material such as sandpaper to help remove the scratch.


For deep scratches that expose the metal beneath, sanding may not be an effective method. If there aren’t many scratches, you can get your vehicle color matched at your local auto paint shop. They can give you options on purchasing a small amount of paint so you can fill in the scratch yourself. Always use some polish to smooth the new paint out. If there are multiple deep scratches or dents on your car that require more than a little color, it is best to leave the process to your trusted automotive expert.