Can You Fix The Scratch On Your Vehicle By Yourself?

Recently, one of our techs was detailing a customer’s vehicle when he noticed a scratch along the fender. The mark wasn’t very large, but was noticeable. When the customer came to pick up her vehicle we notified her of the scratch and she said she was aware and was actually going to get some touch-up paint and take care of it herself. We spoke about the process of application, what may be needed, etc. but that got us thinking, why don’t we create a helpful article on fixing scratches for all of our customers?

As professionals in paint correction (and paint protection!), we know a thing or two about scratches, scuffs, marks and overall imperfections. Depending on the severity, they can certainly attract attention away from your shine, and we don’t believe anyone wants that! So, we’ve gathered some information on scratches and best practices for treating them.

At one point or another, we’ve all experienced a scratch on our car. Whether it was parking too close to someone else, that car door keyhole we missed, natural elements or just wear and tear, fixing scratches on your car is a high priority to make your vehicle look it’s best. Sometimes, minor scratches can be fixed with products at your local auto shop. Other times, however, your paint may require a professional.

Your car, truck, van or SUV’s surface is actually made up of different layers. As seen in the graphic below, there is the sheet metal, then a primer coat to ensure bonding with the paint, followed by the actual color paint base and then layers of clear coat. Usually, the clear coat is the thickest layer. The main reason for the clear coat, in addition to adding a glossy look, is to protect the base coat. Over time, hairline, minor scratches, marring and even deep scratches can appear. Many times, the smaller scratches can be filled in by using a “scratch removal” product. This liquid product fills in the open gaps of the clear coat and gives the appearance that the scratch is gone. Other times, a scratch removal product is not even needed. Many times what appear to be scratches or imperfections are just a buildup of dirt and other elements. An easy way to tell is by running your fingernail across the scratch. If it catches, chances are it needs some extra attention. Deeper scratches, however, go past the clear coat into the paint and require more effort to fix, many times by a professional detailer.

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Figuring Out What Type of Scratch You Have

Start by giving your vehicle a good wash. Avoid drive-thru car washes when possible. The brushes at these establishments are rarely cleaned which means the buildup of dirt, sand and grime is just rubbing directly onto your paint, which can cause even more scratches! It is always recommended to perform a wash by hand to avoid such problems. Then, park your car out in the sunlight, which will show any imperfections in the paint. If your vehicle is freshly washed, you should be able to run your hand over the surface, which SHOULD feel as smooth as glass. If it feels grainy, or your finger catches, it does not necessarily mean your paint is beyond saving, it just may require something called a clay bar or a nano mitt, which is an advanced clay bar surface treatment which Capitol Shine performs.

Clay Bar, Nano Mitt, Wax, Wax Sealant & DIY Scratch Removal

Many times, swirl marks and scratches in the top layer of your paint’s surface can be buffed out. How? A clay bar or nano mitt surface treatment will take any excess dirt and grime off the surface of your vehicle – something a regular wash usually misses. Next, a wax or wax sealant and buff will help smooth out your paint. If after the clay bar and wax or wax sealant there are still scratches, you may wish to try some liquid scratch removal, generally available online and at auto stores. If the scratch goes beyond the clear coat into the actual paint, however, you will need to order some matching paint from a dealer – use your vehicle’s VIN when ordering. Touch-up paint should match your vehicle exactly and can be applied by yourself or by a professional detailer like Capitol Shine, where we can also help blend it into your car’s paint.

More Options for Scratches

Sometimes, no amount of clay bar, nano mitts, wax or wax sealants can fix a scratch. Deep scratches require more attention, and the sooner it can be fixed, the better. If you are unsure (or just don’t have time!) about the type of scratch or how deep it goes, Capitol Shine can help with that. The first step it to schedule an appointmentwhere we can assess your paint and find out what is needed. Often times, a paint correction process is needed. Capitol Shine will first wash your vehicle and then inspect the paint for any scratches and imperfections. Then, we can give you some options on the best way to proceed.

Preventing Future Scratches

After any scratches and imperfections have been fixed, you may decide to invest in something that can prevent this problem in the future. Capitol Shine’s line of ceramic coatings provide a layer of protection unlike any other. Ceramic ProOpti-Coat Pro or Paint Protection Film can help PREVENT scratches, fading, corrosion and more. If you would like to know more about ceramic coatings or would like to schedule a FREE estimate, please send us a message. 

Capitol Shine is the official Ceramic Pro DC installer.

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To schedule your scratch removal, wax sealant, nano mitt procedure, touch-up paint, buffing, Hand Wash or free estimate for one of our Paint Protection products, please visit us online or call 202.380.7100.