A DIY guide to fixing scratches and dents on your car

12 November 2019 - 11:55 By Motoring Reporter
If you have the time, patience and a little bit of DIY knowledge, you can repair minor scratches on your car.
If you have the time, patience and a little bit of DIY knowledge, you can repair minor scratches on your car.
Image: Dzmitry Kliapitski / 123rf

If you're passionate about your car, there are few things more irritating than unsightly scratches caused by accidents, vandalism and parking lot carelessness. To fix these, panel beaters and experts could cost a fortune.

"There are a few ways to repair these scratches on your own, at home, but affordable scratch and dent insurance cover is probably less risky," said Barend Smit, MD of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions and car insurance options. "This insurance covers you in the event of minor scratches, dents and chips, as well as small interior scratches. It's the answer if you love your car and you try to keep it in pristine condition, inside and out."

However, if you are the brave, do-it-yourself type, Smit lists the following at-home solutions to clean up some of those scratches:

Scratch removal kits can work wonders on minor scratches.
Scratch removal kits can work wonders on minor scratches.
Image: Альберт Шакиров / 123rf

1 Scratch removal kits

One option is to purchase the best car scratch remover you can find. This is how to use such a kit: 

1 Wash the vehicle so there is no debris or dirt in the scratched area. Microfibre cloths are best for drying the vehicle and removing unwanted dirt.

2 Remember to purchase the correct scratch removal kit for your vehicle, as many cars have different types of paint, which require certain kits. Your best bet would be to ask someone at an automotive shop which kit they recommend.

3 Apply the scratch removing agents to a microfibre cloth or buffing pad supplied with the kit.

4 Gently rub the cloth or buffing pad on the scratched area. Use a circular motion, as this is best for avoiding new scratches.

5 Wipe away the excess product by using a clean cloth. Repeat this process if the scratches are still visible.

Note: It's important to read the instructions of a scratch removal kit to get the best results.

Painting damaged areas of a car is tricky. Make sure you have the skills and know-how before attempting it.
Painting damaged areas of a car is tricky. Make sure you have the skills and know-how before attempting it.
Image: amnatdpp / 123rf

2 Repainting to fix deep scratches

"Before you consider this process, remember this technique requires some skill," said Smit. "When it comes to deep scratches, we recommend letting the professionals deal with it, because a DIY job could get messy. This is a risky option for amateurs."

If you still want to repaint to fix a deep scratch, follow these steps:

1 Wash the vehicle or scratched area to remove all dirt.

2 Sand the scratched area to remove surface paint. 2000-grit wrap is the best ratio for sandpaper to lightly remove the paint. It's important to sand in the same direction as the scratch to prevent further damage.

3 Rinse off the dirt caused by the sandpaper. If the scratches are still visible, sand down the paint more until they aren't.

4 Spray three coats of primer on to the sanded area. Wait five to 10 minutes between each coat.

5 Apply two or three coats of paint which matches your car's colour. Check with your car's manufacturer to ensure you buy the same shade. You should wait about 10 to 15 minutes between each coat to ensure the paint dries properly.

6 Lastly, wax the area that has been resprayed after the paint has dried. A buffer pad works best for waxing.


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