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5 Easy Steps to Fix a Car Paint Scratch Yourself

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Rife with the possibility of rogue grocery carts, uncontrollable car doors and inattentive purse carriers, a parking lot can become a war field for any new car owner. It’s common knowledge that other people don’t often worry about your car’s paint job as their passing by, so the likelihood of your car leaving a parking lot with a few battle scars is pretty high.

FIx a Paint Scratch

Fix a Paint Scratch yourself with our easy instructions.Photo by modenadude

But don’t fret—with the following tips you won’t have to spend thousands of dollars to repaint your car. You can do it simply and easily yourself at home! Here’s what you have to do:

Before you start:

Make sure you have the ideal temperature. If the temperature outside is hotter than a cat on a hot tin roof, the paint won’t dry correctly. Same goes for cold weather, too. Ideally, it should be somewhere around 70 degree Fahrenheit—aka comfortable t-shirt weather— if you want to make sure your paint job is done right.

Determine the type of scratch. The type of scratch changes the way you go about fixing it. If it’s a minor scratch, which doesn’t go through the clear coat to the color, it can be fixed simply with a polishing compound. If it’s a major scratch, you’ll need matching paint. For the purpose of this post, we will be focusing on getting major scratches out of your car.

Find the right color. It’s important to find the right color for your touch up, unless you want your car to look like a Dalmatian. The way to do that? Look up the factory-paint code, which should be located on a sticker or metal plaque under your hood or in the doorsill. If you can’t find it, head to your local auto shop. They’re normally a helpful bunch and can not only find the code for you, but sell you the paint!

The Process:

Clean the area. Cleaning the panel that is damaged with solvent will remove any oils or wax that might be on your car. This will allow for a cleaner, more perfect finish.

Apply primer or color to scratch. Follow the instructions on the product you bought. It should be simple enough and yes—you’ll have some overlapping paint around the damaged area. This is fine! Just try to minimize the overlap as much as you can.

Let the paint sit. Don’t touch the touched up spot again until the next day. This will ensure that the paint has fully dried and will be able to take the next step without further damaging your car.

Wet-sand the area. Using 600- or 1000- grit wet or dry sandpaper, wet-sand the area until the paint is smooth against the surrounding area. Work slowly and make sure you stop often to clean the area and to check progress.

Chase gloss back into damaged area. You can do this by applying a compound. The sanded area will be more closely contained that way.

Rinse and repeat. Apply more paint and repeat the process until the scratch is filled and level. When you’re finished with the process, don’t wax for at least 30 days.

Have any other tips? Share them with us below!