Types of Car Scratches and How to Fix Them: In-depth Guide

  • By: Jose Whitmore
  • Date: May 29, 2023
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Car scratches come in different types, including clear coat, primer, and deep scratches, each requiring different fixing methods. Fixing a scratch involves identifying the depth and severity of the scratch, preparing the surface, and using the appropriate method to repair it.

Your car’s paint job is bound to get scratched over time by rocks, keys, stray shopping carts and even the weather. Depending on the depth and severity, a scratch on your car can be a minor inconvenience or a major problem that requires professional intervention.

However, tackling the problem head-on can save you time and money. In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of car scratches and how to fix them.

Types Of Car Scratches

Types Of Car Scratches And How To Fix Them

Are you tired of seeing scratches on your car? Scratches can make your vehicle look old and unkempt, but fortunately, there are plenty of ways to fix them. There are various types of car scratches, and each requires a different approach to fix.

Here’s a breakdown of three of the most common types of car scratches and how to restore your car’s appearance.

Surface Scratches

Surface scratches are the most common type of scratch and are typically shallow and easy to remove. These scratches only affect the clear coat, which is the transparent layer that protects the paint. Here are some ways to fix surface scratches:

  • Use a scratch removal kit that includes a rubbing compound, microfiber cloth, and polish.
  • Apply a small amount of toothpaste or baking soda to the scratch and gently rub with a damp cloth.
  • Use a rubbing compound and a machine polisher for larger scratches.

Clear-Coat Scratches

Clear-coat scratches are similar to surface scratches but are deeper and can sometimes affect the base coat. These types of scratches occur when something rough scrapes against the car. Here are some ways to fix clear-coat scratches:

  • Wet sand the area with fine-grit sandpaper.
  • Use a rubbing compound and a machine polisher.
  • Apply a clear coat pen or spray paint to the scratch and smooth with a fine-grit sandpaper.

Deep Scratches

Deep scratches are the most severe and usually go through the clear coat, base coat, and sometimes the primer. These types of scratches require more work to fix. Here are some ways to repair deep scratches:

  • Sand the scratch until it is smooth using sandpaper.
  • Apply a primer to the scratch and let it dry.
  • Apply touch-up paint to the scratch and let it dry.
  • Wet sand and buff the paint until it matches the original surface.

Car scratches are the most common issue faced by car owners. Luckily, there are several ways to fix different types of scratches, and you can even do it yourself! From surface scratches to deep scratches, follow the above-listed ways to get your car looking brand new again.

Remember to be careful while working on your car and always wear gloves and eye protection.

Fixes For Car Scratches

No matter how careful you are with your car, scratches are inevitable. It can happen while driving, parking or even unintentionally brushing against it. Luckily, there are ways to fix it. In this section, we will discuss diy scratch repair and professional scratch repair.

Diy Scratch Repair

If you want to save money and have some time on your hands, you can try to fix the scratches yourself. Here are some diy scratch repair options:

  • Toothpaste: Use toothpaste that contains baking soda to buff out small scratches. Apply a small amount of toothpaste to a damp cloth and rub it onto the scratch in a circular motion. Rinse the area with water and dry it with a clean towel.
  • Nail polish: You can use a nail polish that closely matches the car’s color and apply it to the scratch. This will cover it up and make it less visible.
  • Sandpaper: For deeper scratches, use 2000-grit sandpaper to sand down the affected area. Wet the sandpaper and sand in a circular motion until the scratch disappears. Then use a polishing compound to bring back the shine.

Professional Scratch Repair

If you are not confident in fixing the scratches yourself, or if the scratches are too deep, you can seek professional help. Here are some professional scratch repair options:

  • Touch-up paint: A professional can use touch-up paint to cover up the scratch. They will clean the area, apply the paint and then blend it in with the surrounding paint. Once the paint dries, the area will look as good as new.
  • Panel beating: If the scratch is too deep or has caused dents, a professional can use panel beating techniques to reshape the metal. They will also use filler materials to fill in any gaps and repaint the affected area.
  • Spray painting: If the scratch has affected a large area or several panels, a professional can spray paint the entire car. They will sand down the affected areas, apply a primer and then spray the car with a color-matching paint. This will result in a seamless finish that looks like new.

Keep in mind that while diy repairs may save you money, professional repairs will often yield better results. It’s crucial to weigh the costs and decide what’s the best option for your car.

Preventing Car Scratches

Best Practices For Preventing Scratches:

There’s no way to completely prevent car scratches, but these best practices can significantly reduce the likelihood of getting them. Here are some tips you can follow:

  • Park in a safe and secure spot: Choose parking spots that are well-lit and away from high traffic areas. When parking in a public area, try to park at a distance from other cars.
  • Use a car cover: A fitted car cover offers great protection when parking for extended periods. It can keep your car from getting scratched by natural elements like dust, debris, and bird droppings.
  • Keep your car clean: Dirt, grime, and other environmental pollutants can cling to your car’s surface, potentially causing scratches if not cleaned regularly.
  • Be mindful of surroundings: Be careful when driving through tight spaces, such as garages, alleyways, or construction areas. When driving near bushes or trees, keep your car and side mirrors away from branches.
  • Use touchless car wash: Avoid touching your car with any type of brush while in the car wash. also, make sure to use a good quality car shampoo and a microfiber towel to dry your car.
  • Use protective films: Clear and protective films are available that can help prevent scratches, especially in highly-prone areas like the hood, bumper, and side mirrors.

Following these best practices can help you avoid unsightly scratches and keep your car’s appearance looking brand new.

Frequently Asked Questions On Types Of Car Scratches And How To Fix Them

What Are The Different Types Of Car Scratches?

There are three types of car scratches – clear coat scratches, deep scratches, and surface scratches.

Can Clear Coat Scratches Be Fixed At Home?

Yes, clear coat scratches can be removed with household items like toothpaste, baking soda, and polishing compound.

How Can Deep Scratches Be Fixed?

Deep scratches require a professional touch. Car owners can visit a local auto body shop or car dealership for repairs.

What Should I Do If My Car Has A Minor Scratch?

If the scratch is minor, you can use a scratch removal kit or rubbing compound to fix it. Follow the instructions on the product label.

Is It Necessary To Fix A Scratch On My Car?

It is not necessary to fix a scratch on your car, but it can help prevent further damage and improve the car’s appearance.

Can Car Scratches Be Prevented?

Car scratches can be prevented by parking in a garage, avoiding tight spots, and using car covers. Regular washing and waxing also help prevent scratches.


Car scratches are a common issue that every car owner faces. But understanding the types of scratches and choosing the right method to fix them can save a lot of time and money. Surface scratches can be easily fixed using polishing compounds, but deeper scratches require extra care and attention.

The diy approach can be tempting, but it is always best to take the help of experts for a lasting solution. Paintless dent repair, touch-up pens, and spray paints are some options available to fix deep scratches. Regular washing and maintaining the paint quality can prevent the occurrence of scratches.

With the right knowledge and care, your car can stay scratch-free for a longer time. So, if you notice any scratches on your car, act sooner to prevent them from worsening. Happy driving!

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