How to fix a scratch on your car

Fixing a scratch on your car requires patience and attention to detail, but with the right materials and techniques, you can restore your car's appearance

Salman Chaudhary, Founder Pinkywheels.com

How to fix a scratch on your car

Fixing a scratch on your car can be a bit intimidating, but with the right tools, patience, and attention to detail, you can make your car look as good as new. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to fix a scratch on your car:

Tools and Materials needed to Fix a Scratch

  1. Car wash soap

  2. Microfiber towels

  3. Clean water

  4. Scratch repair kit or supplies:

    • Scratch remover compound

    • Touch-up paint (matching your car's color)

    • Clear coat

    • Sandpaper (various grits)

    • Primer (if necessary)

  5. Fine-tip paintbrush

  6. Masking tape

  7. Rubbing alcohol

  8. Polishing compound

  9. Wax and applicator

  10. Latex gloves

  11. Safety goggles

Step 1: Clean the Area Start by thoroughly cleaning the scratched area and its surroundings. Use car wash soap, clean water, and microfiber towels to remove any dirt, debris, or wax. Make sure the area is completely dry before proceeding.

Step 2: Assess the Damage Examine the scratch carefully. Determine its depth and length. If it's a shallow surface scratch that hasn't penetrated the paint, you may only need to use a scratch remover compound. Deeper scratches may require touch-up paint.

Step 3: Choose the Right Repair Method Depending on the severity of the scratch, choose the appropriate repair method:

  • Surface Scratch: For shallow scratches that haven't gone through the clear coat, use a scratch remover compound.

  • Deeper Scratch: If the scratch is deeper and has gone through the clear coat or even the base coat, you'll need to use touch-up paint.

Step 4: Scratch Remover Compound (For Surface Scratches)

  • Apply a small amount of scratch remover compound to a clean, soft cloth.

  • Gently rub the compound onto the scratch using a circular motion. Be patient and use light pressure.

  • Continue until the scratch is no longer visible or significantly reduced.

  • Wipe off excess compound with a clean cloth.

Step 5: Touch-Up Paint (For Deeper Scratches)

  • Clean the scratch with rubbing alcohol to remove any contaminants.

  • Apply masking tape to mask off the area around the scratch to prevent excess paint from spreading.

  • If the scratch has exposed the bare metal, you may need to apply a primer first. Allow it to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Carefully apply a thin layer of touch-up paint using a fine-tip paintbrush. Allow it to dry completely before applying additional coats (if needed).

  • Repeat the process of applying thin coats until the paint level matches the surrounding area.

  • After the final coat, let it dry for at least 24 hours before proceeding.

Step 6: Sand and Blend (For Touch-Up Paint)

  • Once the paint is dry, use progressively finer sandpaper grits (800, 1200, and 2000) to sand the painted area gently. Wet sanding with water can help achieve a smoother finish.

  • Blend the edges of the repaired area into the surrounding paint to create a seamless transition.

Step 7: Apply Clear Coat (For Touch-Up Paint)

  • Once the paint is smooth and blended, apply a clear coat over the repaired area to protect it and match the gloss of the surrounding paint.

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the clear coat application, typically requiring multiple thin coats with drying time in between.

Step 8: Polish and Wax

  • After the clear coat has dried and cured (usually 24-48 hours), use a polishing compound to buff the entire area gently, making it smooth and shiny.

  • Finish by waxing the entire panel to protect the paint and give it a uniform appearance.

Final Inspection after fixing the Scratch

Inspect the repaired area closely to ensure it matches the surrounding paint and that the scratch is no longer visible. If needed, repeat any steps to achieve the desired result.

Fixing a scratch on your car requires patience and attention to detail, but with the right materials and techniques, you can restore your car's appearance and protect it from further damage. If the scratch is too deep or extensive, or if you're unsure about your skills, consider consulting a professional auto body shop for assistance.

Read my other Car Maintenance articles here

Front bumper of a silver Car with black scratches
Front bumper of a silver Car with black scratches