#1 Guide On Car Scratch Repair

Updated 3 days ago

There are three types of scratches: clear coat, primer, and deep paint. Each represents an increasing level of severity, and therefore an increase in time and cost to repair. While there are several DIY tricks to repairing lighter scratches, the best results come from the hands of professional mechanics.

What type of scratch does your car have?

Before you can determine how much your repair will cost, you have to know what type of scratch you've got! There are three different types of scratches:

Type 1: Scuffs & Clear Coat Scratches

Cars have a layer of clear coating for both protection and cosmetics. Damage to this layer typically manifests as a scuff. However, if the mark is substantial, it's considered a clear coat scratch. 

This type of damage is considered mild and isn't typically too difficult or expensive to resolve.

Type 2: Primer Scratches

The secondary layer on your car is called primer. If the scratch penetrates your clear coat, but you don't see metal or plastic, it's a primer scratch. 

This type of damage is considered moderate. It needs a little more time and attention. 

Type 3: Deep Paint Scratches

If the scratch exposes the metal of your car, it's considered a deep paint scratch. These are the most costly scratches that generally require a visit to the body shop. 

How much is it going to cost to repair a scratch?

The good news is, if you have a newer car, chances are the dealership will have your paint in stock. The bad news? Repairing scratches can run anywhere from $100-$2,000, depending on the blemish type and location. Here's a more detailed breakdown: 

  • Clear coat scratches are typically about $100 for professional repair at an auto body shop.
  • Primer scratches can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000 or more to repair. This is because the whole area needs to be buffed and re-finished. 
  • Deep paint scratches run $800 to $1,500 on average for deep paint scratch repair. 

It's important to mention that these estimates take into consideration the average cost of labor. You should always get multiple estimates from reputable body shops to ensure you get the best deal. 

Can I fix the scratch myself?

You can try! There are several methods out there that have proven effective toward repairing blemishes on cars. However, a few words of warning: 

  • Most of these only work on clear coat or primer scratches. Deep paint scratches often need the attention of professionals. 
  • Still, the best way to address cosmetic issues with your car is to take it to a body shop.
  • These methods could work, but if you mess up and make the scratch worse, you could further depreciate your vehicle and increase a professional repair's eventual cost. 

Method 1: Applying toothpaste to scuff marks

This is one of the lesser-known methods of treating scratches! Here are a few steps to follow closely:

  • Clean the area with water thoroughly. Let it dry completely. 
  • Using whitening toothpaste and a microfibre cloth, rub gently in circles, distributing evenly. 
  • Rinse the area again and let it dry completely. 
  • Repeat the process until the scratch is gone!

Method 2: Using a store-bought scratch removal product

There are several store-bought scratch removal kits. While you should always refer to your specific product for directions, here are some general guidelines:

  • Wash your care and the affected area. Let it dry. 
  • Apply a quarter-sized dollop of the product to a pad or microfibre cloth.
  • Gently work the product into the surface of the car using small, circular motions.
  • Wipe away the residue. 
  • Repeat up to three times, as necessary. 

Method 3: Painting over deep scratches

Before you start this process, go to your local hardware store. You'll need to purchase a primer that's near the color of your car. You'll then have to contact the car manufacturer to locate the exact paint used for your vehicle. 

The rest of the process for this method is as follows: 

  • Wash your car twice and let it dry completely.
  • Wash the scratch area a third time. (And, you guessed it, let it dry completely.)
  • Use sandpaper for scratching away the top layer of paint. Gently rinse the area.
  • Spray several coats of primer, waiting ten minutes between each round.
  • Paint over the area in several coats, waiting 10-15 minutes between each fresh coat.
  • Wax over the area to seal in the paint. 

Does insurance cover car scratches?

Suppose the scratch resulted from an accident from which you were not at fault. In that case, the at-fault driver's liability coverage should cover the cost of repairing your vehicle. If the scratch was a result of something unrelated to driving, such as weather, vandalism, or theft, your comprehensive insurance should cover the cost of repairing the blemish. This is an excellent example of why it's imperative to have adequate insurance coverage when you need it. Otherwise, when something like this happens, you're forced to pay out-of-pocket. 

Tips to prevent future scratches on your vehicle

If you're looking for a few tips on preventing scratches before they start, look no further!

  • Keep your car in the garage
  • Parallel park when possible
  • Be careful in parking lots
  • Avoid weather exposure
  • Don't place items on top of your car

When the time comes, can I rely on my insurance?

When it comes to car insurance, there are several factors to consider beyond monthly cost. A policy that covers you when you need it, has a low deductible, and offers several discounts can be hard to find - which is why we've done the work for you.

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