Starting From Scratch: Repairing Dings And Scratches In Your Car’s Paint

Any time you take your car out, you risk scratches, dings and damage. There are many different hazards, from kids to loose shopping carts, and even people with keys. If your car gets scratched, you do not need to invest hundreds of dollars in a new paint job. You can touch up nicks and scratches with a matching paint in your own garage. With these tips, you can get your car looking like new.

Evaluate the Details

Before you invest in any of the supplies that you would need to do this, make sure that you know what kind of scratch you have on your hands. If the scratch is white and thin, it is likely just in the clear coat. If you can see metal in the scratch, it indicates that it is much deeper. In fact, it means that the scratch has gone through all the layers of the paint.

Work in the Right Conditions

The right temperatures are key to having your new paint job adhere. Aim for temperatures that are comfortable for you in short sleeves. You need an area that is not too hot and is out of the direct sunlight. Choose a shady, covered carport or a garage space if possible.

Identify the Paint Code

The key to a scratch repair is making sure that the new paint is an identical match to the factory paint color. Your car carries a code that identifies this color. Locate the sticker or metal plaque mounted either under the hood or on the inside edge of the driver's door. 

The code will identify a specific color of factory paint. If you do not have this code, talk to the parts specialists at your local auto parts retailer. They can access the paint codes by model year for each dealer.

Cover Clear Coat Scratches

Surface-level scratches are ones that do not pass through the clear coat. A polishing compound can smooth these out. Start by cleaning the entire surface to remove any dirt. 

Then, apply trim tape to protect the surrounding areas. Use a microfiber cloth and a small amount of polishing compound on the damaged area.

Rub in smooth, even strokes. Then, use a clean microfiber cloth to buff the area until the polishing compound is dry. Repeat the process until the scratch is no longer visible.

Patch Base Coat Scratches

Scratches that reach the base coat of paint are more serious, and they need more extensive attention. Start by finding a color-matched paint. You will need this to cover the repairs. Clean the surface area completely, then put protective tape around the scratch to protect the surrounding area.

Use a small brush to fill the inside of the scratch with primer. Let it dry according to the time specified by the primer manufacturer. Once the primer is dry, it needs to be sanded smooth. Wet some fine-grit sandpaper and sand the area lightly to knock down any high points in the primer. This creates a smooth surface for the repainting process. Do not skip the primer; forms an important foundation for the paint to stick.

Once dried and sanded, you need to paint over the primer. Use a small brush to fill in the scratch with your color-matched paint. Let it cure overnight, and then you can wet-sand and buff it to a smooth finish. Use polishing compound or clear coat to restore the original shine.

Finish with Clear Coat

The best way to restore that brilliant shine of your new paint is to apply a clear coat finish. You can use a spray can of automotive-grade clear coat. 

Mask the area before you spray so that you do not risk any over-spray. Spray a light coat from a distance so that you can get just enough coverage to protect it without weighing it down or creating drips.

Never again will you need to fear the damage of a shopping cart in a grocery store lot or a ding from another car door. You can restore the flawless paint job on your car's doors with these tips. If you are not comfortable doing the work yourself, hire a local paint shop—like Collision One. This gives you the opportunity to have the scratches and dings repainted professionally.