How To Remove Deep Scratches From Your Vehicle

Whether it's deep scratches or a minor scratch, learn about the different types of scratches. As well as prevention and removal of all types of car scratches.

Deep Scratches Are Inevitable

Your car will eventually get a scratch and it can be pretty annoying. Now you have all these questions about the scratch on your vehicle. Where did this car scratch come from? How do I get rid of it? How do I make sure this doesn’t happen again? Etc… We are here to provide you with everything you need to prevent and alleviate the scratches on your car. We’re going to cover common ways your car can get a scratch before we go into the types, the prevention and the removal of scratches. It can be a mystery but knowing how to identify what causes deep scratches is a great start. This will give you confidence with the best approach for getting rid of your specific scratch

Ways Your Car Can Get Deep Scratches

Inappropriate Washing and Drying

It can be easy to overlook but scratches happen regularly if you wash and dry your car incorrectly. When washing your car, your sponge traps dirt and other debris very easily. This dirt or debris can lead to a light scratch here or there on your car paint. Materials like a t-shirt or abrasive brush can damage your car as their design is not for cars. Our recommendation is to use a microfiber cloth which is specifically designed to clean your car without causing damage.

Similarly for drying your car, you want to ensure the materials and technique for drying are appropriate. You want to make sure you dry the car by starting at the top. Use a proper drying towel like a microfiber towel that is designed for wiping down car. Lastly, using a drying agent to lubricate the surface to avoid friction on the car’s paintwork when wiping it. Make sure your washing and drying methods are safe to avoid scratching your car.

Going to Automatic Car Washes

While an automatic car wash is a faster ticket to a clean car. It’s also a ticket right towards car scratches. The brushes and wipes used by an automatic car wash collects dirt and debris from all the previous cars that have gone through. This creates a cyclone of wipes and rags filled with dirt and debris. Now imagine your car being rubbed on by sandpaper. When spinning over your car the brushing materials create moderate scratches and swirl marks all over your car.

Hitting Road Debris

This one is extremely common and that goes without saying. Rocks and road debris are always flying around and there is not much we can do about it. You can’t avoid every single possible stone or pebble so the best thing we can do is try our best to avoid any large debris we see.

Getting into a Car Accident

This one goes without saying because if you’re getting into an accident, most likely your car has many scratches. A car accident, including all the other damage, usually leaves a deep scratch in your car’s surface. These scratches and all the other damage, most likely needs to be fixed by a professional.

Deliberate Damage To Your Car

Probably the least common occurrence for scratches but it still happens once in a while. Deliberate scratching is caused when someone intentionally tries to damage or vandalize a car. Another word for it is “Keying”. When a person “keys” a car they usually take a key or another sharp object and drag it across the car’s paintwork. This can extend far across a portion of a car and can be very expensive to repair.

Types of Deep Scratches

Now that you understand how your car can get scratched, you now need to understand that there are different types of scratches. The scratches are classified depending on the depth of the scratch. Depending on the severity of your scratch different repair methods are applied. Some scratches can cause substantial damage over time and be extremely difficult to repair. Other scratches are simply cosmetic and are simple to deal with. Before we jump into the types of scratches we need to understand the layers that make up your car’s paint.

Your Car's Paint Layers

Your car has 3 paint layers. The primer coat is the first layer, it is applied to the metal surface of your car and prepares the metal for the next layers of paint. The colour coat or base coat is applied next. It’s main purpose is to provide the colour for the car’s paint. It is also the thinnest paint layer out of the 3. The last layer is the clear coat layer, it’s usually the thickest and strongest layer. This can even be a ceramic coating and its main purpose is to protect the base coat from sun damage and erosion. The clear coat also gives the car a shiny appearance.

Clear Coat Deep Scratches

The easiest coat to scratch is the clear coat because it is the outermost layer. A clear coat scratch doesn’t reach to the base coat so it’s a rather superficial scratch. It doesn’t remove any colour but the scratch does become visible because of the way light reflects from the uneven surface. Since the clear coat is the thickest layer it can either be a light or deeper scratch. Depending on the depth of the scratch, the product and methods to repair it will differ. A great thing is that these repairs can be done at home by yourself.

Colour Coat Deep Scratches

The scratches on the colour coat or base coat are deeper than the clear coat scratches but don’t expose the primer coat yet. The colour coat scratch will remove the colour on the car’s surface. The colour of the car’s paint layer will be scratched off as a result. The spot will need to be repainted. This can be done at home with a touch-up paint but it might be better left to a professional auto detailer. Colour coat scratches are typically caused by accidents or deliberate damage done to your car.

Primer Deep Scratches

A primer scratch is the deepest type of scratch and can be very detrimental to your car’s bare metal surface. If the primer is scratched and the metal is exposed, the area is susceptible to rust very quickly. Within a few days, if a primer scratch is left untreated, rust can start forming. Rust is really unappealing and causes irreversible damage to your car. Primer scratches are typically caused by the same things that cause colour scratches, just to a further extent since it is deeper. A primer scratch should be repaired immediately to stop rust from forming.

Deep Scratch Prevention

Scratching can happen anywhere, at any time. Here are some preventative measures to help you limit scratches as much as possible:

  • Avoid Vulnerable Parking Spaces. When you decide to go out with your car, at some point you are going to need to look for a parking spot. Find a parking spot away from too many people or cars not parked properly. It’s better to sacrifice parking closer to find an open spot that limits the risk of scratching your car.
  • Leave the Appropriate Room Around Your Car. Try your best to avoid getting too close to other vehicles, barriers or low hanging objects that can scrape or scratch the paint.
  • Wash Your Car Often. You want to make sure any stuck on dirt or grime is washed off properly. Hand washing is what we would recommend. Do not wipe away dirt with a dry cloth or pick it off with your hands. This can cause the clear coat to wear away.
  • Don’t Place Foreign Objects On The Car. This might be obvious but try not to sit on your car or place heavy objects on your car’s surface. It might scratch or warp the surface making it easier for the surface to scratch.

Removing Deep Scratches

Now that you know how to prevent deep scratches, the last thing is removing a deep scratch from your car. You need to evaluate your scratch and determine for yourself if it would be easier to fix it yourself or take it into a car detailer. If you aren’t sure, always take the safe route and get a professional opinion on the scratch.

Clean The Surrounding Area

Before you attempt to remove the scratch you should clean the surrounding area of the scratch so that you can get any dust or dirt particles in the scratch. Wash the area with soap and dry the area with a microfiber towel. If you want to make sure the area is extra clean, you can swab it with rubbing alcohol to remove any dirt remnants.

Use A Scratch Repair Kit

There are a ton of products out there to help you fix minor or superficial scratches. If you’ve decided to fix the scratch yourself then you might want to look for a car scratch repair kit. These kits contain all the tools you need to buff out or fill in any scratches on your car. We don’t have a particular car scratch remover product to recommend, they all get the job done for a DIY solution. Visit your local car detailer and ask them which scratch repair kit they would recommend.

Apply Rubbing Compound Or Glazing Putty

You’ll want to apply a small amount of rubbing compound to a buffing pad or microfiber cloth. You’re going to work the compound into the scratch with small, quick circular wipes. The rubbing compound has abrasive properties that help wear down the rough scratches and create a smooth surface again. Try not to buff too hard as it can remove paint, just keep your eye on it for signs of paint being removed.

Use Touch Up Paint

Touch up paint can be used to cover up scratches as well. It comes in many available colours and comes in spray paints, paint pens or bottles. The paint pens allow for precise application of the paint. Test out your touch up paint on a hidden area of your car to see how it pairs with your car’s base coat. Depending on the depth of your scratch, a touch up primer might be useful to apply before the touch up paint. Once you apply the primer and paint, you can finish off the area with a clear coat or wax to give it that final shine. Your car will look as good as new if you do all this.

Take it to a car detailer

The severity of your scratch combined with your lack of on-hand materials could lead you to a car detailer. Fixing deep scratches can waste a lot of time and money for you if you decide to fix it yourself. It never hurts to get another opinion about your car scratch and how to repair it. Even though you will most likely save some money doing it yourself, you can always get an estimate from your local car detailer. Consider your budget if you do decide to take it to a detailer. If the damage is deep we highly recommend getting the scratch professionally fixed.

Scratches are inevitable so don’t stress about it too much. The best thing you can do is take preventative measures to keep your car scratch free. In the circumstance that your car does get scratched, evaluate the damage and see where to go from there. We hope this information helped you in understanding how to protect your vehicle from scratches. If you’re interested in preventative measures, contact Prestige Auto Detailing HERE to talk to a clear coat specialist today. To learn more about how to protect your car, check out our article Paint Protection Film Vs Ceramic Coating, Why Not Both?