How to Quickly Repair Car Scratches

By laura.cox

Posted in: 

November 15, 2022

Aside from your home, your vehicle is one of your most valuable assets. It takes you back and forth to work, ferries your children, and allows you to grocery shop with ease. It takes you on family adventures, delivers you safely to middle-of-the-night hospital visits, and is your gateway to the rest of the physical world.

And that is exactly why even the slightest scratch on your car hurts you more. 

 Additionally, the paint job on your car has purposes beyond aesthetics. Sure, pretty colors and shiny finishes look amazing. But paint serves a purpose that isn’t about how the car looks at all. Actually, it shields the metal surfaces of your vehicle from automobile rust and corrosion, which can swiftly degrade them. Certainly, you will have a paint scratch or chip on your car at some point if you drive it normally. It may result from a variety of causes, such as:

 A stone thrown by a passing car or truck

  • A parking lot door ding from a nearby vehicle
  • A rogue shopping cart that targets your car
  • Normal wear and tear
  • Corrosive road salts commonly used during winter weather
  • Accidental scrapes caused by children or pets
  • Someone parked too close
  • Malicious vandalism
  • Inexperienced driver damage
  • Automatic car washes
  • People leaning against your car to chat
  • Scrapes from packages or boxes


If left unattended, paint scratches can rust, corrode, or spread, making your car look worn and old. Even the slightest dent in your car can affect its value. Even if an auto body scratch is partially concealed, you still know it's there. Not only do you want your vehicle’s paint job to look nice, but you also want to retain its resale value. What are the most common causes of scratches? Does the type of auto body scratch or ding on your car matter? What is the best method for fixing scratches on your car? When should you seek auto repair services or professional help?

Verified auto body Experts can chat right now and answer your questions about ways to save money on auto body repairs, painting, adding clearcoats, or fixing auto body gouges. Ask a JustAnswer Expert today.
 

Does the Type of Scratch or Ding on Your Car Matter? 

You should be well-versed in the types of auto body scratches you are dealing with before attempting to fix the scratches on your car. To start, there are three different categories of scratches:

  • Clearcoat Scratches: Scratches in the clearcoat are visible to the naked eye. However, the damage is superficial. In essence, clearcoat scratches are tiny abrasions in the clear coating that covers your paintwork. They do not affect paint or primer. They do not affect the metal of the car.
     
  • Paint Scratches: Auto body paint scratches are scuffs that go through the clearcoat and scratch the color or paint. They do not scuff the metal of the frame. 
     
  • Deep Scratches: A deep scratch is the most problematic kind of scratch. You're going to need an automotive service professional to solve this. This kind of scratch appears on the metal when the clear coat, paint, and primer are all removed. Deep scratches that go through to the car's bodywork are the most complex and expensive to repair. You will need to hire a car repair shop professional to repair and seal the damage to your vehicle if you want to prevent rust and avoid costly rust repair services.


If you’ve noticed any of the types of automobile scratches mentioned above, talk to a verified mechanic on JustAnswer. Ask anything about clearcoat scratches, paint scratches, deep scratches, and more in a one-to-one chat and get quick, personalized responses. 
 

Quick Tips for Fast Auto Fixes at Home

With a variety of auto repair tools, scratches in the clear coating and paint can be quickly corrected. 

Step 1: Decide which areas require the most focus. Car doors commonly have scratches, as do right and left rear bumpers.

Step 2: Give your automobile a hand wash to clear the damaged area of any dirt or debris before attempting to fix the scratch

Step 3: Polish the surface to a high sheen with a microfiber towel. Your car's appearance will be refreshed when hairline auto scratches and swirls are eliminated.

Step 4: If the scratches can still be seen with the naked eye, try a liquid scratch remover or soft buffing cloth.

If you’re afraid you’ll cause more damage by attempting to repair your scratches, ask a mechanic or auto repair service Expert online today for tips. Experts can chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Find reliable info right when you need it so you can be prepared no matter the situation. 


If the Scratches are Deep

Deep scratches may require more care or expertise, but there are some things you can try at home. 

  • Try a high-quality car scratch repair kit. They are sold at most auto body repair stores. They typically come with a sanding implement to smooth the scratch away or a filler to fill in the crack in the paint. Filling in the gap in the paint will prevent rust and erosion. Then you top it off with a sealant to protect the finish for years to come. 
     
  • Try an old trick your grandparents may have used – toothpaste! Toothpaste is a natural abrasive. Combined with the abrasion from a soft toothbrush or soft cloth, it helps to smooth the rough edges of the scratches so they can either be covered or filled in. The area you abrade with the toothbrush will become flush with the surface. 
     
  • Contact a nearby auto body repair shop. If you provide the make, model, and color of your car’s paint, the auto body repair shop may be able to sell you a can of “fix-it” or automotive touch-up paint. It will match your car’s color or at least get remarkably close to it. Touch-up paint often comes in aerosol cans, but they might also provide you with a small sample in a jar or tube, which you can apply using a toothpick and a soft cloth.


The Most Common Causes Of Dings, Scratches, and Dents 

While your situation might be unique, most auto body scratches, dings, and dents come from the same types of occurrences.

  • Stones thrown by passing cars are one of the most common ways car paint jobs are scratched. You’re driving down the road completely unaware, and a rock bounces across your hood. It may or may not gouge out enough paint to reach the metal, but it needs to be repaired if you can see it. 
     
  • Let’s face it – some shoppers don’t return their shopping carts to the corrals allocated for that purpose. Instead, they park them on a curb, leave them in the center aisle, and some people leave them in the middle of an adjacent, open spot. Wind, vibrations to the roadway from nearby big trucks, or bad luck can make the cart roll, and then it crashes into your door or the side of your car, leaving you needing auto body repairs

Preventing and controlling auto-body rust is essential

  • Much like the paint on fingernails, paint gets rubbed away with use, particularly at the edges of doors, hoods, and trunks. When you see the paint separating from the edge, it might look like red or rust-colored lace or lattice as it spreads. If you catch it quickly enough, you may be able to stop the corrosion, auto body rust, or decay. 
     
  • If you live in an area that often sees snow, you may have rust or dings on your car from corrosive salts used to brine the roads for winter weather. These salts can get into an existing scratch and cause worsening auto body corrosion
     
  • Pets are common causes of accidental scrapes, scratches, and dings. If your dog likes to hang out the window, you could have scratches around the window opening. Cats, even ones that aren’t yours, might climb over your parked car and leave minor scratches from their tiny toenails behind. Feral cats are famous for leaving prints and scratches on car finishes. If your dog is thrilled to see you when you get home, you might have scratches on your door. (Tip: If this is common, fling the door open as you stop, and you can avoid this type of greeting.)
     
  • Children often leave behind dings, scratches, and more when entering and exiting the car, riding bikes in the driveway, or tossing a ball in the yard.
     
  • Unfortunately, vandalism does occur at times. It happens when you least expect it. Is your neighbor angry? Do you have a vengeful ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend? Does your community have a group of malicious teenagers with bad intentions? If so, those tell-tale scratches could tell a story of their own. Many insurance companies won’t pay for vehicle vandalism, so you could be on your own when it comes to repairs after your vehicle has been keyed. 

Keys and sharp objects can cause scratches on clear coat or paint

 

  • Inexperienced drivers often make mistakes that experienced drivers have learned to avoid. Parking too close to an adjacent car or backing into road signs, trash cans, or mailboxes can leave dings and auto body scratches on your car's finish. 
     
  • Drive-in car washes are convenient, but their coarse bristles and rotating buffers can sometimes leave behind superficial scratches on your paint’s clear coating. These often buff out with some wax and a soft cloth, but if you have worries, you might want to avoid them and stick to a regular car wash or do it yourself at home. 
     
  • Cars often suffer scratches when someone leans against them with a sharp object on their clothing. Wearing a studded belt or clothing with sharp edges while leaning against your car and shifting your weight puts you at risk of accidentally scratching the paint. Keys on purse strings commonly leave evidence behind after someone stops by to chat.
     
  • Often when you get home from work, you need to free up your hands, so you’ll leave a package on the hood or trunk of the car while you shift things around. Cardboard can be abrasive, so take care not to scratch the finish of your paint job when you do this. 


Why Is It Crucial to Understand What Caused the Damage?


Knowing the reason for auto body scratches is essential when deciding whether or not your insurance provider will pay for the auto body repairs. The amount of coverage for cars with auto body scratches varies depending on the type of damage, so if your vehicle doesn't have enough coverage, you're out of luck. To make an insurance claim, you must first ascertain the cause of the harm.

No matter how the damage occurred, JustAnswer Auto Body Experts can chat with you right now. Send a picture of the damage, and an Expert can reply with a list of things you can try at home, or they might recommend seeing a professional. Ask about auto repair prices you can expect. No matter the type of damage, an Expert can provide information on auto body repairs and painting. 


Get Help Making Decisions About Car Scratch Repairs


Dings, abrasions, scrapes, and scratches can affect the value of your vehicle considerably. Keeping them in top shape protects their future resale value, you should do your best to repair auto body scratches as they occur. Some can be buffed out, glossed over, or rubbed clear. Still, others may need further intervention, which you can provide if you just know how. 

Ask for information about fixing car scratches online anytime. JustAnswer Mechanics and Auto Body Repair Experts can answer your questions quickly and reliably at a reasonable cost. Day or night, Experts can chat online, by text, or by phone. If you’re looking for replacement or touch-up paint that matches your vehicle, an Expert may be able to help you find it.