The Best Way to Remove a Car Scratch
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If you're like most drivers, your new car is your pride and joy. After browsing through many makes and models, you finally chose it, with the options and colors that suited your tastes.
But now, when you go outside to start it up and drive away, you notice a small scratch in the paint. It could have resulted from many things like a parking lot mishap, vandalism, or road debris.
While perhaps barely visible to someone walking by, any blemish on your vehicle's finish catches your attention. Paying a body shop to touch up the area could cost you hundreds, and your car insurance or warranty probably won't pay to fix it.
In a situation like that, what can you do not only to fix a car paint scratch but ensure your vehicle's finish is like new?
Let's explore the topic of paint scratches and how to perform scratch repair.
How to remove light scratches
If you run your fingernail over a minor scratch and it doesn't catch, you may only need toothpaste to fix it. These types of light scratches don't go below the clearcoat, giving you a chance for a DIY repair.
If that happens to be the case with your car, first give it a thorough wash to remove any dirt clinging to the paint. If you try to repair a scratch without washing your vehicle ahead of time, it could only worsen.
You can either visit a car wash or do it yourself at home, which ensures the most thorough cleaning. If you decide to wash your car by hand, soap specially formulated for automotive finishes, along with a soft sponge and gentle scrubbing, is best.
Once your vehicle is dry, grab some toothpaste (whitening formulas are best) and apply a quarter-sized dab to a microfiber towel. Using a circular motion with medium pressure, work the toothpaste into the scratch and buff it out.
With the light scratch gone, you can either wipe the area with a wet microfiber towel or rewash the area with soap and a sponge.
When you use toothpaste to repair scratches, you may need to repeat the process a few times before they disappear. But after three go-arounds, it's time to stop because you could damage the paint.
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Scratch removal products
If the scratches on your car are below the clearcoat but not down to the sheet metal, a scratch removal product may be the way to go.
Specialty brands produce scratch removal kits that contain both a buffing compound and a soft pad for application. You can find them at auto parts stores or in the auto section of major big-box stores.
If you're not sure which scratch removal product is right for you, the employees at an auto parts store can steer you in the right direction. If you purchase a liquid scratch remover that's not part of a repair kit, using a microfiber towel for application keeps your paint protected from abrasion.
Like repairing light scratches with toothpaste, you should wash your car before using a scratch removal product. By using a soft sponge with auto-specific soap into the scratch and the surrounding area, you've assured all dirt and grime are gone, leaving you a clean area to work with.
Then, it's time to add the scratch removal product to a microfiber cloth or buffing pad and begin working it into the surface. About the size of a quarter is a good rule of thumb, although larger scratches may require more.
Using firm pressure, but not too strong, with either circular or back and forth motions, work the product into the scratch and surrounding areas, slowly buffing it away. However, it's essential to pick either a circular motion or a back and forth one and not switch between the two, which could damage the paint.
After a few minutes of polishing, it's time to wipe the surface clean and check your results. A microfiber towel works best to remove the excess product, and it's also good to read the instructions on the bottle to ensure the best finish.
Like using toothpaste to repair a light scratch, you can repeat the process with a scratch removal product two or three times. But after that, it's essential to stop, because you could damage the clearcoat.
How to fix deep scratches
Some scratches on your car's paint job are just too deep to buff out. In that scenario, you'll need to paint over them.
First, you'll need to thoroughly wash your vehicle, paying particular attention to cleaning out the scratch of any small particles.
Then it's time to sand the area around the scratch with 2000-grit sandpaper. Using a sanding pad, work for 10-15 seconds at a time, being sure to go in the same direction as the scratch.
For especially deep scratches, you may want to initially try heavier sandpaper, like 1500-grit. After smoothing out the area with the 1500-grit, you can then use the finer 2000-grit.
As you sand, periodically rinse the area to check your progress.
Now it's time to wash and clean the scratch and apply touch-up paint.
Once the paint is dry, it's time to tape off the sanded area to avoid overspray.
Next, apply three coats of sandable primer, waiting five to 10 minutes between each. A primer close in color to your car's paint ensures a better result.
Now it's time to apply paint in the identical shade as the factory finish. Checking with your manufacturer for the exact paint code can help make your vehicle look like new.
Spray a few coats of paint onto the same area as the primer, waiting five to ten minutes in between. After the last coat dries, apply a high-quality carnauba car wax to keep the car's surface protected and sealed off from the elements.
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Save where you can
Owning a vehicle brings many costs like fuel, insurance, and maintenance. Saving money where you can on auto-related expenses (like scratches) helps keep extra cash in your bank account for other vital obligations. One way to save money is by obtaining a good car loan. At Shift, a network of trusted lenders compete for your business, so you get the best deal on financing. Applying for financing with Shift is quick and easy, with no cost or obligation. Most applicants receive an offer within minutes instead of days. Financing with Shift is so convenient that 9 out of 10 customers choose us when they need a loan. Beyond that, Shift also offers best-in-industry service contracts, ensuring your new vehicle runs strong, mile after mile.
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April 15, 2022
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