The Anatomy of a Car Paintwork Scratch

Although you have great intentions when you first get a new car, thinking you are going to look after it perfectly so it never gets damaged or scratched, it’s an inevitability that some paintwork damage will occur to it at some point during your ownership of the vehicle. And whilst your car is likely to be your pride and joy, it’s unlikely that strangers in the supermarket car park or the children who have been running around next to it out in the street really have the same feeling of sentimentality. Then of course, there’s the fact that natural wear and tear will happen as you drive along the road, with scratches and chips appearing from something as small as loose tarmac or stones being thrown up against the bodywork on a routine journey somewhere.

Fortunately, paintwork scratches are simple and relatively inexpensive to have repaired, or even repair yourself if you fancy yourself as a bit of an expert when it comes to cars. If you do fancy trying to repair paintwork damage yourself, you need to understand what you are dealing with and how to tackle the different types of scratch that you may face.

The three car paintwork layers

Pretty much every modern car (newer than about 20 years) will have a clear-coated catalysed enamel paint which is artificially hardened and can dry almost instantly in the right temperature and humidity conditions.

On top of the car’s metal body panel you will find a primer layer, then a base coat of paint, and finally the clear coat which is used to protect the coloured paint below. As a general rule, the more layers which have been damaged, the more work (and money) will need to go into bringing the paintwork back to a ‘good as new’ look. It’s important then to determine what type of damage has been caused before tackling the scratch head on.

Clear-coat scratches

These are usually very minor and do not require any paint to fix. You can tell if you only have a clear-coat scratch if you cannot see any metal underneath the scratch. You’ll often just be able to rub out the damage with a cloth, a bit of polish and compound. You need to use this sparingly though as it can ‘lift’ off the protective layer which leaves the rest of the paintwork susceptible to damage. Clear-coat scratches do take a bit of patience to ‘rub out’ so be persistent and you will eventually see some great results.

Base-coat and primer scratches

These are more serious and are when you can see the metal bodywork appearing under the scratch. When this is the case you will need to invest in some matching coloured paint for your car. You should be able to find the manufacturer’s paint code somewhere on your vehicle. Start by carefully applying a primer layer, leaving this for 24 hours before sanding away around the damaged area. Finally, apply compound and some more paint to level out the damage to blend it in with the rest of the car’s paintwork.

About the author

Revive UK is a mobile car damage repair service who can remove any paintwork scratches you may have on your vehicle. Visit their website today for more details.

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