Car Paint Scratch Repair: A How to Guide

January 27, 2012

Car paint scratch repair is not difficult and can usually be completed in a couple of hours. A scratch in the paint can be unsightly and could lead to additional damage of a car's surface if it is left unattended and allowed to rust or oxidize. You will need the following:

  • Touch-up paint
  • Sand paper (80, 320, 1000 Grit)
  • Paper
  • Soap and water
  • Dry towels
  • Car wax

Car Paint Scratch Repair, Step by Step

  • Wash the damaged area. Take some soapy water and wash the area around the scratch that you want to repair. Make sure you wash away any wax or clear coat sealer that may be covering the scratch so that the touch up paint can be properly applied. Let the vehicle dry
  • Sand the scratched area. The severity of the scratch will determine what grit of sandpaper you need to use. If it is a very deep scratch, use lower grits of sandpaper such as 80 or 120. For smaller scratches, begin sanding with a higher grit sandpaper such as 320. Sand the scratch area and try to smooth the scratch out before applying touch up paint. Finish up by wetting a piece of 1000 grit sandpaper and sanding the area. Wipe away debris and water
  • Stencil and tape off the scratched area. Create a stencil for painting the scratched area of the vehicle. Cut a small hole in a piece of paper just slightly larger than the scratch itself and then tape the paper to the vehicle so that only the scratch shows. This will help you avoid getting any unnecessary paint on areas of the car that are not damaged
  • Find the correct touch-up paint. Write down your vehicle's VIN and take it to a local dealership. Most dealerships sell touch-up paint based on your vehicles VIN in order to get the perfect color match
  • Paint the damaged area. Follow the directions on the bottle or can of touch-up paint for painting the scratched area of your vehicle. Most touch up paint kits come with an applicator brush that allow you to easily apply the paint. If one is not provided, you can use a paper matchstick to easily apply the touch-up paint to the scratched area. Allow the paint to dry at least 24 hours before doing anything else. In most cases, it is better to allow the paint to dry 48 hours before trying to wax or seal the damaged area. Remove the paper stencil carefully after you finish applying the touch-up paint
  • Wax the vehicle. After the touch-up paint has thoroughly dried, you can go about washing and waxing your vehicle as you normally would. Use a high quality wax with Teflon or a brand name paint sealer protectant on the vehicle and apply a little extra on the scratched area