Published on July 4th, 2012 | by Gearhead Diva0
Fixing a Scratch in Your Car Paint Like a Pro
Imagine coming out of the store one day, loading your groceries in the back of your car, and the evil of all evils happens – you notice a scratch in your car’s awesome paint job. This can definitely bring down the overall look of your ride a notch. Most enthusiasts think that when this happens, you have to take the car to the body/paint shop and have them repaint it for you. However, this isn’t true. Even if you haven’t delved into working on your car’s body much, not all scratches require the services and expertise of a paint and body shop to restore its smooth finish.
Tools You’ll Need
There are three basic types of scratches that you might find in your car’s paint job. The first, and the worst, is the kind that either goes all the way to bare metal, or most of the way to bare metal. THIS kind will require the services of a body shop if you haven’t tackled painting yet. The other two are easier to deal with yourself. They are the kind of scratch that doesn’t go through the clearcoat and those that do, but only scratch the top surface of the paint. Here’s what I use:
- A high quality resin-based rubbing compound or polish (I prefer TR-3 glaze. It’s expensive, but definitely worth it.)
- Color-matching scratch repair kits
- A high quality car wash (I prefer Meguiar’s Deep Crystal Car Wash)
- Car wash mitt or sponge – NOT a washcloth!
- High quality chamois
- Cheese or terry cloth towels for glaze removal
- High quality paste Carnauba wax
- Lamb’s wool buffing pad
1. Completely Wash and Dry the Car
Using your high quality car wash and mitt or sponge, give your car a good wash. You could just focus on the area being worked on, but why? Go ahead and do the whole car, that way you can more readily tell when your efforts in the following steps have paid off. Use the chamois to dry the car, completely wringing it out once it gets wet enough that all you’re doing is moving the water around.
2. Apply the Rubbing Compound or Polish
You need to really look at and feel the scratch. Does it feel like it’s gone all the way through the clear? If so, you’ll need the rubbing compound or glaze. If not, you can get away with a finer compound, such as Meguiar’s #2 polish.
The key here is to keep your application pad moving, and use heavy pressure as you rub compound in. You should actually see some of the color being transferred to your applicator. If not, you’re not rubbing hard enough. Unless you’re PROFICIENT with an electric buffer, or you want to ruin your paint, do this by hand. The harder you rub the glaze in, the quicker you’ll take the scratch out. Be sure to use circular motions. Remember, “wax on, wax off”.
3. Allow to Dry and Buff Off
Once you’ve completely rubbed the compound/glaze in, you need to allow it to dry before removing it. This shouldn’t take more than ten minutes or so. Go have a beer while you wait.
I prefer using cheesecloth towels for all of my auto detail work. Others like terry cloth, because they last longer. Whichever you use, be sure you use heavy pressure again, and use the same circular pattern you used during application. If the scratch wasn’t too deep for using compound, you should start getting happy about now, because you’ll start revealing a once again flawless paint job in the car’s panel. If not, the scratch was too deep and you need to skip to the color-matching section below. If you’re happy with the results, move to the next step.
4. Apply the Carnauba Wax
Yeah, there’ve been some new developments in car care products in the last ten years or so, but, I still prefer my carnauba (car-noo-bah) –based products. I think they just work better. Use a clean applicator and heavy pressure again. You should do the whole car in this step.
5. Allow to Dry and Buff Off
Again, cheesecloth over terry. It’s just softer and works better, I think. Use the circular motion and heavy pressure during the application, constantly turning the towel to a clean section. Once you’ve removed the wax glaze completely, use the lamb’s wool buffing pad to bring out a high shine.
Using the Color-Matching Method
Turtle Wax has recently come out with a very good product called the Turtle Wax Scratch Repair Kit. Here’s how to use it, after you’ve washed the car.
1. Use Masking Tape to Mask Off the Area
Apply two strips of tape, one on either side of the scratch. This will also help you identify the area.
2. Apply Clearcoat Filler
Press the tip of the clearcoat filler against a piece of paper to start the flow of the filler. Carefully trace the scratch with the filler pen. Allow to dry for about fifteen minutes between applications if needed.
3. Match the Surrounding Area Using Abrasive Pads
There are four abrasive pads supplied with the kit. You should only need numbers two, three, and four. Number one is for when you need to use touchup paint.
Apply the supplied lubricant spray to the area and the number two pad and, using moderately light pressure, rub the abrasive pad up and down in line with the scratch twenty times. Repeat this process with the two other pads, wiping the area dry between pads. Remove the tape.
4. Apply Paint Clarifying Compound
Using the abrasive pad dulls the shine of the paint around the scratch. Applying the paint clarifying compound, perpendicular to the direction you sanded in, will restore the luster.
5. Use a High Quality Wax
Follow the steps outlined in Steps 4 and 5 in the first section to apply the wax.
Used properly, the Turtle Wax kit can be used to repair deep scratches that go most of the way through the paint when touchup paint is used first.
- NEVER wash and wax your car in direct sunlight.
- Especially NEVER use a buffing, rubbing, or polishing compound on hot days or in direct sunlight, unless, of course, you want to ruin your paint.