Removing minor scratches from your car is a delicate art which is much equal to polishing your car’s paint. No matter how fine they might be, these scratches are frustrating and just about unavoidable. They are caused by low hanging tree branches, other car doors, carts found in parking lots, small animals or even children playing around your car with their toys.
However, getting rid of these imperfections does not require that you repaint the entire car. It only requires few techniques either on the drive way or in the garage. Here’s how to fix a minor scratch on your car.
Nature of the Scratch
Unless your car is too old, probably 20 or 30 years old and was custom-painted, then you’ll have an easy time because modern cars have a clear and light coating. Hardened by toxic chemicals therefore, your cars paint will be looking like new in a few hours. Whether you are applying primer, color or clear, this is lacquer and remember lacquer evaporates faster and leaves the solids behind. These solids and debris will sink within a short time.
It is also advisable that you allow lacquers to dry overnight before adding another coat. Now, if you need the original full thickness of the paint again, then you’ll have to apply one coat daily. However, this is not essential in this repair but of course it sounds safer and original. You also need to operate in a well ventilated area and make sure that you remove any grease and oil from the affected surface. Put differently, you can wash this surface with some soap and warm water before drying thoroughly with a clean towel.
Cracking the Code
Now, the manufacturer’s palette has so many similar colors in a single cars model. As such, you’ll need to identify your car’s factory paint code. This is normally a metal plaque or sticker in the door still or under the hood according to the manufacturer. Having the code will play a great role in identifying the touch-up paint you will need to use.
If you find it difficult to match the color in the display, then you’ll have to hit the auto parts store for clarification. This is easier if your car is at least less than 10 years old. If you find this still inevitable, look for an auto paint dealer to custom-mix you a paint and take the sample with you. You can also go to color-rite.com and order touch-up pens, bottles and even aerosol cans through e-mail in order to match the paint.
Preparing the Scratched Area
The first step is to polish the area that is affected or else you will have to respray the protective top layer. Remove the abrasive compound by cleaning the panel thoroughly. You can trim the area of operation with a tape after removing any surface dirt. Apply polishing compound to the pad that normally comes with it or any available cloth and after several successful strokes, buff the area dry. Go slowly to avoid sanding the clear coat.
Preparing the Primer for Scratch Repair
This is the same procedure to be used when repairing primer-coat scratches. Similarly, apply primer to the scratches area and though you’ll be at times overlapping the affected zone, be careful not to overly apply the primer. Allow the paint to stay overnight then with a sponge you can wet-sand the surface with sandpaper to get rid of any remaining unwanted paint. Make sure you work slowly as you check your progress. Apply more paint repeatedly until the surface is filled and leveled. Thereafter you can apply shiny factory gloss. Waxing comes at least a month later so as to allow the solvents to escape.
In case you employed more abrasive methods, you may make use of products such as acetone, sandpaper and buffing compound to remove any scratches, scrapes and the protective wax.
Spraying the Clear Coat
Clear coat is applied if you were dealing with deep scratches. You need the automotive clear coat rattle can because the usual enamel is recommended for spot repairs only. Make use of Rust-Oleum and Dupli-Color and here’s how to minimize the repaired area.
Start off by cleaning the surface to remove grease and oil. Take a piece of paper and make a hole that is almost equivalent to the repair surface and mask the area to avoid over-spraying the coated surfaces.
Lightly spray the paper while holding it some inches far from the panel. Make sure the spray is not too much. You will only know this if the paper is too shiny or is sagging due to the spray. Allow this to dry.
Sand off any excess using fine sandpaper on a sponge. This protects the affected area from enlarging besides maintaining the original level of the clear coat. As usual, you can remove the sanding scratches by compounding the affected area using a brush touch-up. Repeat this process with two more coats at an average interval of 24 hours.
Now, you need to know that the compounding process removes scratches but normally leaves a dull whitish color. This is to be expected and removed. In order to have a perfect paint therefore, you need to remove the swirls while compounding. This is a process that requires some practice and you can always use a scrap metal from an old car to perfect your skills.
Scratch Repair Products
Any auto parts department has a variety of kits and products. The two necessary items are the polishing compound and fine sandpaper. However, it’s better to have all the items in a single box. Some kits come with primer and clear which means that you’ll only need to get the required color and a nice place to do the job.
The Scratchpro’s is a diamond-based compound that cuts very fast and is normally available in three grades: The Quixx kit is a full set; Dupli-Color compound has matched paints and a cordless drill which makes it best when it comes to larger repairs.
Other best car scratch removers include: Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound, Barret-Jackson Car Scratch Remover, 3M Scratch and Scuff System, Turtle Wax Polish and Mothers 08408 California Gold Scratch Remover.