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What can you do to repair scratches on your car

picture of a scratched car

No matter how hard we try, or how careful we drive, sometimes it’s best just to accept that your car could well, at some point, end up with a scratch here or a scrape there. They can happen in any number of ways, from careless driving resulting in you breaking the neighbour’s garden fence; to carelessness when using the wrong cleaning products. Perhaps the worst case is when it’s not your fault in the slightest – when someone else has been driving dangerously or when local vandals thought it would be fun to scratch a key along your door.

But fear not – there are options to repair your car and to get your bodywork looking new again. And while you are going to have to get your wallet out and it is going to take time and effort, it can be done – and that’s the main thing.

Believe it or not, different scratches require different repairs. Some only go through the clearcoat (the top layer), whereas some go right through to the primer. If you’re going to go it alone, you’ve got to be careful.

Below are the steps that you’ll need to take if you’re going to attempt to repair the scratch yourself, but sometimes it’s best to accept that it’s going to have to be left to a professional to avoid further damage.

Is it definitely a scratch?

Sometimes what looks like a scratch is actually just a mark. Make sure you examine it closely, running your finger over the area to make sure it’s definitely scratched. If it’s not, don’t go wasting your money at the local car shop!

It’s all in the depth

It’s important to assess the depth of the scratch before you go splashing the cash in Halfords. If it’s not a very deep scratch and only seems to go through the clearcoat, try using a simple polish or glaze to do the repair yourself. A glaze adds lubricating oil to the paint and will get rid of the scratch if it’s not very deep.

Decision time…

If the scratch goes deeper than just the clearcoat, you need to be decide if you’re able to fix it yourself or whether you want to get it repaired professionally. Chances are that if you attempt to go it alone and don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up making things worse.

Sand it and prime it

If the scratch does go deeper than the clearcoat and goes all the way to primer, start by wet-sanding the area, very gently, using a 1,500-grit sandpaper and moving outwards from the centre of the affected area, making sure to blend with the undamaged area next to the scratch. Next, carefully apply primer, allowing time for it to dry before applying touch-up paint, which you need to be absolutely certain is the right colour. Follow the instructions of the paint can to the letter, and be patient – take your time.

Clear coat and sand again

When the paint is dry, apply clear coat. Making sure the clear coat is fully dry (wait a couple of days if you can), repeat the wet sand process from above to smooth the new paint in with the rest of the car. Finish with a polish, then a wax and the scratch should be completely unnoticeable.

Go to a body shop

Clearly the above steps require patience, time and a fair bit of know-how. If your budget permits and you value your car, you may want to be safe and have the job done professionally. Obviously cost depends on the size of the job, but even for a small job you could be looking at around £100. Body shops specialise in repairing scratches and dents, so providing they’re reputable, you can rest assured that your car will come back looking clean and pristine.

Do make sure you shop around though – but don’t wait too long: leaving scratches unrepaired and open could well lead to further damage, such as rust.

published: 01/07/2013 17:00:00

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