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How to fix a deep scratch on your car

How to fix a deep scratch on your car

Severe scratches, resulting in chipped paint, exposed sheet metal and perhaps even a crease or dent in the metal, can be difficult and time consuming to repair. But it’s not impossible! Anyone with the right tools and a bit of patience can learn how to fix a deep scratch on a car. And we’re here to show you how. You’ll need the following materials for this job...

  • Lint free cloths
  • Wax/silicone remover (eg. 3M General Purpose Adhesive Cleaner and Wax Remover)
  • A tack cloth
  • Chemical metal conditioner (if bare metal is visible)
  • Primer and touch up paint (available in aerosol cans)
  • 320, 400 and 1000 grit wet or dry sandpaper
  • Stopper (filler)
  • Masking materials (paper and tape)
  • Rubbing compound
  • Automotive wax
  • If rust is involved, a chemical rust remover
  • If a clearcoat is used, some touch up clearcoat
Wipe clean the scratch on your car

Step 01

The first step in repairing any paint scratch is to get it, and the area around it, completely clean, so wash the surface with mild soap and water, rinse it well and dry it with a lint free cloth. You absolutely have to get off all traces of old wax, which will keep the new paint from adhering properly. Automotive paint shops sell special cleaners designed to remove all traces of wax, grease, silicone and other sealers from the paint – buy and use one!

Step 02

Remove all traces of rust with 400 grit wet or dry sandpaper, then use a chemical rust remover (follow the directions on the container). Apply the wax/silicone remover again.

Step 03

Sand over the area to be repaired with medium fine (320) grit sandpaper, but don’t sand so hard you go right through the paint. All you want to do is clean off the top layer and start feathering down the edges of the scratch.

Step 04

Follow up by wet sanding with 400 or 600 grit sandpaper, using a hose or a bucket of water to keep the paper clean. After sanding, you should have a finish as smooth as the original painted surface.

Step 05

When you’ve finished sanding, the area should ‘feather’ (blend very gradually) into the surrounding paint. If you can feel a ridge as you run your hand over the area, sand some more.

Step 06

Spray on a light coat of primer, let it dry, and follow with another light coat. Don’t spray the primer so heavy you get runs or sags and be sure to let the first coat dry before spraying on the second coat.

Step 07

Let the primer dry COMPLETELY, then get out the hose or bucket and wet sand the primer with 400 or 600 grit wet or dry sandpaper. Work the paper over the area very lightly. The idea is to get the primer smooth.

Step 08

If you sand completely through the primer, don’t worry about it. Just spray on another light coat, let it dry, and sand some more. Remember- if you leave the primer coat rough, or a ridge is present where it blends into the existing paint, the roughness or ridge will still be there after you spray the paint.

Step 09

Wait for the primered area to dry completely, then wipe it clean with a tack cloth to make sure there’s no dust left on the surface.

Step 10

Spray a very light ‘fog’ coat of paint onto the repaired area. The paint coat should be so thin you can still see the repaired area. This fog coat is just to give a tack base for the following coats of paint to adhere to.

Step 11

Spray on the finish coat. Make sure it’s heavy enough to cover the repair, but not so heavy that the paint runs or sags. Several thin coats are better than one heavy coat. Let each coat dry to the tack free stage before applying the next one.

Step 12

Let the paint dry for several days (a week would be best), then use a very fine rubbing compound very gently to blend the new paint into the existing finish. If it’s done right, and followed with a thorough cleaning of the old paint and a fresh coat of wax over the whole area, you won’t be able to tell where the repair was made.