Finding a scratch on your car can be a major emotional rollercoaster. How did this happen, who would do this, and how do you fix it?
Fixing car paint can be an expensive process, but the good news is you have the ability to get rid of that scratch, which means also getting rid of the worry and stress of a high bill.
How Bad is Your Scratch?
Before you panic, it’s time to evaluate this issue and determine just how bad it really is. It’s true, once you see the scratch, you can’t unsee it, but that doesn’t mean it’s as bad as you think.
There are three main categories of scratches, including micro scratches, shallow scratches, and deep scratches. Shallow scratches are on the surface of your clears, while shallow scratches are a bit deeper while remaining in the clear. Deep scratches include scratches within the color, or even deeper into your paint.
The quickest method to check how deep a scratch is using the fingernail test.
This is exactly how it sounds, take your fingernail and slide it across the surface of your paint using a light to medium pressure. As you pass over the scratch, pay attention to if your nail catches on the scratch, if you feel it at all, or if you don’t feel any real difference.
If you don’t feel any major difference, most likely you’re dealing with micro scratches, often referred to as surface scratches. If your nail catches on the scratch, you may be dealing with a scratch between a shallow scratch and a deep scratch. You’ll have to take a closer look to know.
When thinking about how severe a scratch is, you will first want to do a visual inspection in good lighting. This could be parking your vehicle in the direct sun, pulling out a flashlight, or using the flashlight you keep in your pocket (yes, your phone).
Once you brighten up the issue, it’s time to pull out your glasses and take a close look at your scratch. You’re trying to get a visual idea of how deep your scratch is.
When looking for deep scratches that may be in the color, you will look for a brighter discoloration such as a white or lighter color of the paint. You may also look for a shiny reflection found with damage which may be down to the metal surface.
With a clear coat being half the thickness of a piece of paper (0.002 inches) it’s important to take your time with this visual inspection.
When considering small scratches, we’ll be looking at shallow scratches found on your painted surfaces.
These are scratches that are found within your clear coat, and can be fixed by you, in your own driveway.
Although the clear layer on your vehicle is so thin, it is responsible for protecting your painted base coat, or the color of your vehicle. It is intended to be hit with rocks, weather, and other contaminants found during your drive.
This clear coat also protects your surfaces from moisture, avoiding rust and increasing the longevity of your vehicle. This means if a scratch is found, you should take care of it as soon as possible.
Removing the Scratches
When considering removing the scratch, you will actually be removing the surrounding material to match the lowest point of the scratch. It’s important to keep this in mind, depending on the depth of the scratch.
This is done with a product known as cutting compound or scratch remover. These liquids have a very tiny grit mixed in, and remove extremely small amounts of clear as they are used.
Ultimately, you will follow the manufacturer's specific instructions. In most applications, you will be applying the liquid with an applicator pad, rag, or buffer and massaging the entire area. The entire area will be worked in what’s known as blending, where the panel is smoothed equally.
Once you buff the scratch removing compound through the area, you will want to wipe everything down with a quality microfiber towel and check your progress.
Remember, you can always remove more, but it’s quite difficult to add paint back. This means take your time, and keep checking your progress.
Filling A Scratch
When considering filling a scratch, it’s important to know the difference and similarities between adding a clear filler, and adding a surface protectant.
When dealing with a scratch a bit deeper into your clear, you may not want to remove the surrounding area to the same depth.
In some instances, adding a small amount of clear filler, sometimes called a clear coat pen will fill the scratch to the existing level.
Consider filling it a bit over the top of the scratched edge.
Once you have filled the scratch, it’s important to go back to sanding the area to blend the newly filled scratch into the surrounding panel.
Paint Protection and Micro Scratches
When talking about micro scratches, or those scratches you absolutely don’t feel with your fingernail whatsoever, you may still want to get rid of them. Micro scratches happen, and they are caused by normal wear and tear, but that doesn’t mean you want them.
Micro scratches, swirls, and wash marks are within the very outer edge of your clear, and while they could be worked away with polishes, they are better filled with surface treatments.
Surface treatments not only fill these minor imperfections, but they add a protective layer to your paint to help fight later contaminants.
Waxes are a tried and true method of paint protection, adding a soft outer layer to your paint, which a majority of gets washed away when cleaning your vehicle, also washing away debris.
A recent development in ceramic coating has taken the world of paint protection by storm, adding a layer on top of your clear protecting not only from rocks, dirt, and debris, but adding extra protection to acid contaminants such as bird droppings and tree sap.
Having confidence in paint repair can help reduce the stress when mistakes happen. The value and added protection from quality top coat products, such as those from Shine Armor help avoid scratches and keep your vehicle safe, on the road, and shining.