Why the Scratch on the Paintwork Needn’t Be the End of the World
When you’ve taken great pains to look after your car and ensure that its paint remains pristine and dazzling, it can feel like a knife to the heart to get any kind of scratch or abrasion on it, regardless of how big or small it is. You might feel like a total failure, like you’re going to have to break the bank to get the problem fixed. In fact, you couldn’t be further from the truth.
While some deep and serious scratches are quite a problem and will cost some money to get fixed, the vast majority of minor scratches and abrasions are very minor and can be fixed up quickly and for far less than you imagine.
What Are the Main Causes of Scratches on Paintwork?
There are several things that can cause scratches, many of them somewhat beyond your control as a driver:
1. Accidental Contact with Hard Surfaces or Other Vehicles
This is the one area where a scratch is likely to be your own fault as a driver. If you are driving along and you scratch the car in an impact with another vehicle, or with a sharp jutting piece of stone wall, or another obstacle, then that’s down to you. Fortunately, these are among the least likely ways that you’ll get the kind of repairable minor scratches on your car.
2. Rock Chips and other debris
If you’re following traffic in front and there is a lot of loose debris on the road such as rock chips, pebbles, bits of wood and whatever else — this is more likely after some extreme weather like a storm — then there’s always a chance that your car will be impacted by one of these bits of detritus being thrown up at it.
The sad fact is that there are hoodlums out there in the world who intentionally cause damage to parked cars for whatever sad, depraved and unfortunate reason they find to do it. They may use a nail, a car key or some other sharp object to do damage both minor and serious.
4. Automatic Car Wash
Not every car wash will cause scratches, but you have to beware of those in particular that use the bristly rollers that make their way across your car to wash it. Whatever car washes claim, research has shown that these rollers are rarely cleaned and that means you’re getting at least days’, possibly weeks’ worth of grit and dirt embedded in those brushes being roughly drawn across your car’s paintwork.
5. Improper Car Washing (By Hand)
Another mishap that can happen is when hand washing the car. If you’re unfamiliar with the two-bucket washing method, then you’re more prone to making this mistake. An amateur washer with only one bucket plunges a dry sponge into soapy water, wipes it over the dirty car, then back into the bucket for more soapy water, and then back to the car. In doing so, the grit, dirt and other contaminants are in the cleaning water and are getting stuck on the sponge, potentially turning it into a scouring pad.
How Can Scratches on Car Paintwork Be Fixed?
In whatever way your car gets scratched, fixing needn’t be either as complex or expensive as you imagine it would be. Consider first using one of the many-available DIY car paint touch up kits to solve the problem.
Car Paint Touch-Up Kits
These kits cost on average between £12 and £30 depending on the brand. In the past, touch-up kits have made use of small-head paint brushes to apply the primer and touch -up paint (and many still have that option) but newer kits use a touch-up pen which is easier to control and manipulate than the paintbrush.
Step 1: You have to first thoroughly clean the affected area. Most people just do a full wash and detailing of the car, killing two birds with one stone. The damaged area has to be absolutely clean in order for the primer and paint to take hold.
Step 2: Once you’ve washed the scratched area, you’ll need to use sandpaper (usually comes in the kit) to sand down the area until it’s totally smooth. If what you have is paint chipping with no scratches, then the sandpapering step is not necessary.
Step 3: Rub your finger over the sanded area to ensure it’s all smooth and level. Once it is, you can begin applying the primer. This is the stuff that will ensure the touch-up paint binds properly with the surface. You’ll need about 2-3 coats of primer, or whatever you kit recommends, with at least 20 minutes drying time between coats.
Step 4: Next apply the base coat of paint. You can check the colours and their codes with your OEM in your owner’s manual. The range of colours in modern cars is mercifully small nowadays, meaning kit makers generally have all OEM colours covered. With the basecoat, you’ll also have to apply several coatings with at least 20 minutes drying time between coats.
Step 5: Apply clear coat in layers with drying time in between as instructed by your repair kit. Once dry, look carefully at the finished area, it may look “raised” depending on how heavily you applied each layer of coating. You can once again sand down the affected area until it’s smooth and uniform with the rest of your car.
How Much Does it Cost to Professionally Repair Scratches?
All of the above, as well as more serious car repairs can be done by a professional, but you should expect to pay more than the £20-30 in total you’d be paying for a DIY kit and assorted tools.
A professional scratch repair or paint correction for minor damage will cost £60-100 to repair professionally. If it’s a deeper scratch that has exposed the surface metal of the car, then it could cost as much as £250.
Conclusion: What Can You Do to Prevent Scratches in the Future?
If you’re worried about car scratches, then you should consider some paint protection measures such as paint protection film, a vinyl wrap, or a ceramic coating. These are expensive options, but if you feel that the risk is high, then it can be a worthwhile investment.
Spending money on paint protection now can also do a lot to preserve the resale value of your car in the future. Well-protected paintwork that is preserved close to its original OEM quality is a huge plus, and the visual factor alone can add many hundreds, even thousands to the amount that a buyer is willing to pay.