Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to avoid scratches on car paint in everyday life. If you park in front of trees with bird nests or drive too close to bushes on the roadside, the paint can get scratched. There’s good news: you won’t need to hire an expensive professional to fix a small chip of paint. 

What causes car paint damage?

It is possible for environmental influences and impacts (both mechanical and chemical) to adversely impact highly sensitive car paint. Since car paint is quite thin – about the thickness of a fingernail – it gets scratched quickly. This is probably a situation where avoiding might be the best strategy. Below are a few common reasons for a car’s paint to be damaged.

Mechanical damage is often caused by:

  • Rockfall (gravel)
  • Branches and twigs
  • Car keys
  • Fingernails and animal claws
  • Rings and watches
  • Buckles of handbags and belts
  • Metal buttons on trousers and jackets

Chemical damage (matt surface) is often caused by the following substances:

  • Hand cream
  • Tree resin and pollen
  • Insect and bird droppings
  • Road salt
  • Nail varnish remover, shaving foam (Please do not use for paint cleaning!)

Chemical impurities can be removed with grinding and polishing – if they have not yet penetrated the lacquer.

Polish away minor paint scratches

The depth of the scratch determines how well you will be able to remove the paint damage. The damaged area may only require polishing if it is only superficial. Car polish will function fine for this purpose. The abrasive particles in the compound remove the scratch.

However, make sure the scratched area is thoroughly cleaned and degreased before you use the polish. Small dirt particles will not be rubbed into the paint while polishing. You first need to use foamed car shampoo to soften dirt encrusted on the surface, and then you can use a cleaning solution and a cotton swab.

Dry the affected area after cleaning. Once that is done, polish the scratches evenly with the car polish. Apply the polish in gentle circular motions with a cotton or microfiber cloth.

Benefits of car polishing

It will be an exciting task for those who love their car. The hassle could even be worth it for those who do not want to take the time to go through it. There are several benefits to polishing your car.

Polished paint adds class, and it looks as good as new. Because it increases a vehicle’s value and also prevents rust, that’s why it’s so important. Polishing exposes a new layer of paint beneath the weathered, uppermost layer. By doing so, the rust-forming spots are removed. Furthermore, freshly polished paint is more resistant to bird droppings, so it takes longer for them to ruin it.

Applying the car polish offers much more benefits than simply improving the shine of the car. The dripping of rainwater or cleaning water offers a very desirable side effect. As a result, there is little chance of water stains appearing, leaving a flawless appearance. Additionally, dirt and dust adhere less readily to the car’s surface. With the right polish, we can extend the protection to several months, which pleases the car owner.

When you polish a car, it leaves the paint looking new. Small scratches are erased, creating a lovely shine. Upon treatment, it becomes resistant to water and dirt. Rust is prevented from forming when water drops roll off. It is more complex and expensive to repaint your car than to polish it. 

What to do in case of a deeper damage to the paintwork?

Repairing deep scratches is more challenging. Polishing the paintwork is not sufficient if the sheet metal can be seen. The original color of your vehicle needs to be replicable by using a touch-up pen or paint. A base coat must be applied before the colored paint with a two-coat metallic paint.

To use a touchup paint, apply it in overlapping rows with a thin brush and a magnifying glass. We need to let each layer dry before we apply the next. Then fill the scratches in with clear lacquer. The layer can get a little thicker and therefore we sand the surface after drying for 24 hours with a very fine sanding block. Next, the polish is applied.

Additionally, lacquer repair kits are also easily available. With such a set, repairs are easier, and everything is included. But you should also make sure you use the proper color touch-up pen.

Tips: Each car paint is identified with a sequential three-digit number. The owner’s manual for your car will tell you which paint number you need.

Repairing deep car scratches with a repair kit

There are multiple repair kits available for deep scratches, so you can fix them yourself. You will need the following means and tools:

  • Pressure washer or hose
  • Bucket, car shampoo and sponges
  • High quality microfiber cloths
  • Silicone remover
  • Rubber spatula
  • Paint repair kit
  • Polishing pads, car polish, wax or sealant

Repairing paint with each technique involves some skill, but it’s attainable. Follow the instructions on the set to get started. 

Car wash

Clean and wash the paint thoroughly. Make sure you avoid causing further scratches. You can eliminate coarse dirt first by using a high-pressure cleaner. Next, foamed car shampoo should be used generously to soak up additional dirt. First, do not scrub hard on the paintwork. Instead, press a damp sponge on it. Rinse the foam with the hose for a few minutes once the dirt has soaked in it. To finish cleaning the paintwork, you need to use a car sponge and plenty of shampoo water with circular movements.

Drying and degreasing

Use a fine microfiber cloth to dry the paint or let it dry in the air. A silicone remover is used to remove wax and polish residues.

Application of new layers

Now follow the instructions in the repair kit to apply the different layers to completely fill in the scratch. Spreading the liquid thinly over the damage can also be accomplished with the spatula. Make sure it dries completely. Repair kits sometimes recommend that you apply a clear coat or primer first. Mask the surrounding areas with masking tape if you are going to spray paint.

Polishing

Polish the area when the layers are dry. The paint is left looking lustrous after this treatment because fine mechanical marks are removed. 

Sealing

Last but not least, seal the paint. Paint sealants protect car paints from chemical influences (including bird droppings, insect droppings, and tree resins). A choice can be made between wax and sealant. Wax is less resistant to mechanical effects than sealants are. Therefore, modern car sealants with greater tensile strength are recommended. To apply these, you polish with a polishing foam followed by a fine microfiber cloth without applying pressure. Whenever you apply the products, work on a small portion at a time, so that the products do not dry.

Should it prove impossible to repair the car scratch this way, it’s worth taking it to a professional. Whenever you find a large scratch in a piece of metal, it is important to remove it immediately, so that rust has no chance of growing.