How to repair a scratch on your new car

by Jason Lancaster

You’re opening the car door. You glance down at the fender and you see it — A SCRATCH! You mutter under your breath “THIS is why I can’t have anything nice” as your new car lays damaged before you. But fear not! It can be fixed.

For God’s sake NO! The sound of the words “touch-up paint” always make me cringe.

Don’t get me wrong – if you have a big, deep scratch, touch-up paint is probably appropriate. But I don’t recommend that an average person uses it. First of all, it’s very hard to apply correctly unless you’re experienced. Second of all, it’s usually overkill. There are other methods of reducing the appearance of a scratch that are easy and relatively cheap.

Most scratches can be fixed with a process called “wet-sanding”. Wet sanding is done by a professional, and it involves moving paint and clear coat molecules around to reduce the appearance of a scratch. It works on light scratches, but deep scratches are another matter.

How do you know if you have a deep scratch? Can you feel it with your fingernail? Is bare metal showing? Is the scratch longer than 10″? If you can answer any of these questions with a yes, go to the local body shop. Make sure to get a written guarantee and a few quotes — repairing a deep or big scratch can cost anywhere from $50 to $1000 dollars, so check around.

If the scratch is light, your local body shop should be able to fix it up for less than $40. Make sure the shop you’re going to us has a written guarantee and that you understand it. Usually the person repairing your car will tell you what it’s going to look like when they’re done.

With all repairs, nothing works 100%. There’s a good chance that the local body shop will remove most of the scratch, but often times a small scratch remains. Relax. You’re probably the only one that sees it because you know where to look. You can be happy that it looks a lot better than it did before.

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