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Scratches can feel like the end of the world. Once you see a scratch, it appears to be so obvious it hurts.
As much as we would like to point fingers and look for a reason the damage has happened, reality is, we have to get it taken care of, and if we’re lucky, we can skip the body and paint shop and remedy the issue right at home.
To understand a deep scratch, it’s important to understand the layers of your car’s paint.
The top layer of paint is known as your clear coat, and is a see through layer designed to protect your painted surface. This layer is meant to receive minor damages, and can be easily fixed and corrected. The color of your vehicle is known as a base coat, and may include metallic flakes or pearls giving you a shine, color effects, or depth of color.
Although you can’t see the next layers, a primer is used to sand the surface flat and smooth prior to painting. It may be grey, black, or colored to different colors to assist in the sanding process. Beneath the primer is your panel's base material, such as metal or plastics.
When considering deep scratches, we are talking about scratches that have gone through the clear coat, and into your deeper layers such as the base, primer, or down to the base materials.
Your painted layers are designed to protect your vehicle from moisture, contaminants, and the sun’s UV from damaging your vehicle.
Moisture making its way between the layers of paint will slowly absorb, and once heated by the sun will break your outer layers apare. This is often a cause for flaking clear coats. If the moisture makes it way to your base metals, it will begin creating oxidation and rust causing damage to your vehicle.
Contaminants such as bird droppings, tree sap, and dirt can damage your vehicle's paint, as they can be abrasive or acidic. Breaking down the protective layers of your vehicles will allow the moisture and UV damage to occur.
The sun’s UV rays are often overlooked as a damaging component, but should often be the focus of damage. We all know how quickly the sun can damage our skin, which is why we don’t lay in the sun all day with exposed skin and no sun block. Our vehicles often don’t have the option of getting in the shade.
These rays can break down many substances causing your paint to fade, your plastics to dry out, and your added protectant layers to wear out. Your vehicle's clear coat is designed with a UV protectant additive.
With so many factors attempting to damage your vehicle, it’s important to take care of your painted surface, promoting longevity and maintaining a high value.
It’s important to inspect your vehicle's damage to the best of your ability.
Bring your vehicle to an area with bright lights, or use a flashlight to see how deep your scratch is. Try shining it from the side as well, paying attention to the color inside the scratch.
If the scratch has penetrated your base color, you should see a dull slightly off version of your paint. If you see a silver shine or light grey, the scratch may be deeper.
While a scratch may be relatively deep, it could just begin to etch into the color. When dealing with scratches like these, it’s important to focus on restoring the clear coat.
It’s true, there may be a slight discoloration within your color. In most cases, this is simply due to mild damage or lack of clear. When a color is cleared, it gives a “wet” and glossy look, often adding a depth to the color.
To fill these scratches, consider a clear coat pen, or a clear paint correction pen. These are ink markers filled with automotive grade clear coats intended to fill the crack in, and remove the eyesore of damage. To best fix this damage, consider adding multiple layers until the scratch is completely filled.
Once the scratch is completely filled, you’ll want to use a cutting compound, or wet sand the area to blend your clear coat into a flat, smooth surface.
As an owner, it’s time for you to make a choice. Seeing your scratch, you should try to make a decision if you would be happy with the scratch filled with a clear coat pen.
Many color matched paint pens can be found on the market. Attempting to use these will add a color on top of your clearcoat, causing a visual difference and often leaving owners with a less than ideal outcome. In most cases, these should be avoided.
If you decide the scratch is too severe and that you wouldn’t be satisfied with adding clear, you can take your vehicle to an auto body shop to have the area corrected.
While having a vehicle repainted can be quite costly, damaged areas can often be sanded down to the damaged area, and painted with just clear, or just base and clear leaving the rest of your vehicle alone.
Reality is, when a scratch is deep you often have to accept that the issue will be slightly visible if you try to DIY a cheap fix at home, or you’ll have to just pay to have the corrections done to satisfaction.
Damage which is deeper than your base will require the area to be sanded down, painted, cleared, and re-finished. This should be avoided at home, since differences in color or finish will appear obviously once being driven.
Scratches can be stressful, and they should be taken care of to avoid later, more severe damage from occurring. Taking the time to correct scratches now can keep your vehicle on the road, and in good overall condition.
Deep scratches can be worrisome, gaining the knowledge from Shine Armor to protect your paint will keep your vehicle shining through the years.