How To Repair Car Paint Scratches

Aug 17 2017

Walking out to my newly-purchased Lexus LS 400 one morning, it wasn’t until I was a feet away that I realised someone had run a knife edge across two of the door, one of them deeply.

It’s wasn’t a new car, or expensive at all – merely a 1998 model costing less then £2,000. However, it had been machine polished until the Astral Black paint reflected deeply and as good as it would have done in the showroom when originally sold.

The long paint scratch on my LS 400 came just one day after it had been polished, and it was done to a car I had immense pride in. If you’ve ever had this done to your vehicle – and especially one you love – this sort of unwarranted, nasty attack feels completely personal and it will make you feel nauseous and immensely angry for a while.

The same goes for when your car has been scraped by a supermarket trolley, or perhaps someone has caught your bodywork as they pull out of a space, and then driven off.

scratched car

Whatever the scenario, once the initial shock and annoyance passes, it’s time to get something done about the damage. Here are your options to repairing paint scratches, and how to do the job.

Cost vs practicality: Weighing up the damage

If your car’s paintwork has been really deeply scratched, you may need to have that panel resprayed. That can be a costly job, and if money is tight or your car isn’t worth much to begin with, that’s probably not an option.

Car body painter spraying paint or color on bodywork in a garage or workshop with an airbrush

So, the next stage is to look at having the scratch repaired by a company specialising in paint chips and scratches. This again can be costly, and it’s likely going to cost £80 – £100 depending on the company, and even then you likely won’t receive perfect results.

Another option is to ask a high-end detailer or valeter for a quote on how much it will be to machine polish the area, in the hope it will polish out. Depending on the individual and the damage, you’re normally looking around the £50 – £120 mark.

Scratched car paint on rear body caused by accident

Should you want to tackle a particularly nasty scratch yourself, which may be more involved and mean sanding back the damage and going from there, there are a whole bunch of useful YouTube videos on how to do this.

Finally (and hopefully), the scratch may be light enough to simply use a machine polisher and a Chipex car paint touch up system. More often than not it’s a case of ‘reduce’ over ‘ complete repair’ if it’s an especially-deep cut into the paint, but the Chipex kit does do an exceptionally good job of blending the damage into the rest of the panel, making it far less noticeable than it would be using, say, a traditional touch-up kit.

How to repair a paint scratch yourself

Machine polishing:

Firstly, let’s get that nasty gouge reduced. For this you will need access to a machine polisher, a couple of good quality polishing comeuros.

Man on a car wash polishing car with a polish machine

Tip: if you have not used a machine polisher before, ask someone with experience to do the job for you. Machine polishing can easily damage paintwork if used incorrectly!

If you feel competent to use a machine polisher, great, but be wary and take a good look at the scratch first. If they’ve used a sharp instrument such as a knife edge, the scratch should be a clean, narrow ‘V’ in the paint, with no rough edges. If they’ve used a key it almost always worse, as the scratch will be wide, with rough edges.

If it has rough edges, be wary of the paint pulling or flaking as you machine polish the area. You may want to start by hand-polishing to smooth out the rough areas.

Hopefully, after a few passes with the polisher the mark will have significantly diminished enough to be barely visible. If this isn’t the case, then it’s time to try a Chipex paint repair system.

Repairing/reducing a paint scratch using a Chipex paint repair system

Chipex are an international company, so please click here to go to choose your country’s website. They give a 100% colour match guarantee, are trusted by thousands of previous users, and are even the official suppliers to the Morgan Motor Company.

before and after

It’s a cheap system to buy: £29.95 for the ’12 chip’ repair kit, £35.95 for the ’24 chip’ kit, and the one I would personally buy: £37.95 for the ‘Heavily chipped car’ kit. You can always use it again numerous times in future then.

Firstly, you’ll need to choose your paint. To do this, go to the Chipex front page and use the sector to either input your paint colour code. Click here to find out how to find the colour code on your car.

If you can’t do that, simply use the drop-down menus to find your vehicle make, model and paint name. Failing that, contact the friendly guys at Chipex and they’ll be happy to help.

Once you’ve got the Chipex repair kit, it’s a really simple and easy-to-use process which is surprisingly quick to do.

Hopefully, using one of the cheaper above-methods that ugly paint scratch will be either completely invisible or so well hidden that it’s not really noticeable, and you can get your car looking great once more!

Written by Chris Davies – an award-winning motoring journalist writing for CarProductsTested.com

Photography:

Photo: Scratched car by Tristram Biggs

All other photos licensed from Envato.