Unless you keep your car wrapped in bubble wrap, it’s extremely likely that it will pick up some scratches or stone chips here and there.
Although these imperfections detract from the appearance – and can soon rust if they are not dealt with quickly – don’t despair because a few simple steps will soon get your car in tip-top condition again.
The first thing to do is determine exactly how deep the scratch is.
There are three layers on top of the steel bodywork: the primer, base coat colour and clear lacquer coat. The thickness of each of these is measured in microns – one micron is equivalent to one thousandth of a millimetre – so you can see that dolloping on paint will do more harm than good!
If the scratch is only as deep as the base colour or lacquer coat, the repair should be quick and simple. However, if you can see steel or a different colour, it will be more difficult to undertake at home so it’s probably best you get your car booked in at your local garage.
It’s all in the preparation, so make sure you have all the equipment you need to fix your bodywork.
You will need:
• Rubbing compound
• 1,500 and 2,000-grit wet/dry sandpaper
• Buffer pads
• Microfibre cloth
• Car wax
1. First, wash and dry your car thoroughly. Pay particular attention to the area you are repairing: spray it with water to make sure all debris is out of the scratch.
2. If the scratch is deeper than the clear coat, use the 1500-grit sandpaper first to level the surface
3. Wrap the 2,000-grit wet/dry sandpaper around a sandpad and very carefully and lightly sand the scratched area – sanding in the direction of the scratch. You just need to sand through the top lacquer coat unless the scratch goes deeper than this. Rinse the area occasionally to see if you have reached the bottom of the scratch.
4. Once you have finished sanding, rinse and dry the area carefully with a microfibre cloth.
5. Use rubbing compound to the scratched area – this is an abrasive that will remove the scratches from the sandpaper – and rub gently with a buffer.
6. Wash the area again immediately and dry carefully.
7. Apply a good quality wax to the surface and buff it again.
Fixing minor scratches
For very minor scratch repairs, you can buy touch-up paint.
1. Make sure you get the exact shade – you can find the car’s paint code on an information plate that is fixed to the inside of the driver’s door, inside the bonnet or in the boot. If you can’t find it, check your vehicle manual or note down your vehicle information number (VIN) – usually found on the driver’s side of the dashboard, on the corner where it meets the windshield – and ask your dealer to find the colour code.
2. Use soapy water to clean the area thoroughly and dry it.
3. Use a wax and grease remover.
4. Very carefully apply a coat of paint – if the brush is too thick, use a wooden skewer to apply it or a piece of kitchen paper that has been rolled up to a sharp point.
5. Let it dry and then apply another coat. You may need to do this a few times.
6. Apply a thin clear coat over the new paint.
7. Apply rubbing compound to polish the newly painted area.
Check out your local motor car parts store to see if it stocks repair kits, which contain everything you need to fix bodywork scratches in one handy pack.