Alright, here is a how to guide for you to follow that will give you a step by step to fix deep scratches and key marks on your car.
You’re likely here because some jerk-off that was probably dropped on his head as a kid has decided that it might be a good idea to key your car. You obviously didn’t see the punk because you are here and not in jail and/or a court house suing for damages, or maybe you did catch him and you just hired a Cincinnati criminal lawyer to try your case and you were acquitted of the charges for the end result of your encounter. Joking aside, you’re probably cussing at the fact that you’re likely out of pocket anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand bucks that it’s going to cost you in body work to fix the deep scratches in your paint. Well, my car got keyed…bad, and I managed to fix it without spending more than about 100$ (including beer) to get her looking almost new again.To give you an idea of what I was working with and just how deep scratches on my paints surface were, here is some of the damage that I had.
So here is a step-by-step how-to that you can go about that will lead to the fixing of those deep scratches and key marks in your paint so that you can keep on enjoying your baby in this nice weather. What you’ll need:
- Touch up paint matching the paint colour of your car. Spray can is the easiest way. Do Not buy the Pens.
- Clear Coat (spray can)
- Cheese Cloth
- Rubbing Compound
- Polishing Compound
- Rags/microfiber cloth
- Polish/wax applicator pads
- Quixx Scratch repair
- Painters Tape
- Polish (I use this stuff, Best stuff in my opinion)
- Caranuba wax (I use this stuff, it’s amazing. Get the 16oz liquid, it’s easier to work with)
- Case of Cold Beer
* I added links to the products I used above due to the many emails asking for specifics on what I use.
Step 1) Wash your car. Get all that dirt and grime off of it so that you can see the extent of the damage much more clearly.
Step 2) Take your finger nail and feel the scratch. Does your finger nail get caught on the edges of the scratch or does it still feel smooth? If You can feel the scratch with your nail, you are through the clear coat and into the paint and this is considered a deep scratch. Continue to follow this guide to help restore the looks of your car. If the scratch is smooth then refer to the “How to fix minor scratches” guide (coming soon).
Step 3) The deep scratch has probably created somewhat of an edge, lets try and smooth it all out by hitting it with a round of rubbing compound. So lets start out with the preliminary stage of repair.
1) Apply rubbing compound to a cloth (I like Cheese cloth for this). I also recommend doing this by hand; as using a buffer with rubbing compound can destroy paint very, very quickly. Take the rubbing compound and begin applying it to the scratch in a circular motion. Work a small section at a time (roughly 3.5″ wide). Apply this for maybe 15-20 seconds per section. Don’t push too hard, let the cloth do the work while applying only a tiny bit of pressure (think about the same kinda pressure you use to dry the car after a wash)
2) Take a separate clean cloth and wipe/clean away the rubbing compound. Don’t mind the dullness that is present in your worked paint sections at this time. Don’t worry, this wasn’t suppose to fix your scratch/keying…but the scratch might look a tad skinnier right now (maybe, maybe not)
3) wash this tiny section down that you have just applied rubbing compound to. This step is EXTREMELY important. MAKE SURE you get ALL the rubbing compound OUT of the scratch. Remember, this is a deep scratch, which means content/residue can hide in the crevice. This area MUST be spotless. Once clean move on to step 4
Step 4) This is the hardest part, mainly due to the fact that the inconsiderate goof probably didn’t key/scratch your car in a perfectly straight line, if he did, consider yourself lucky. What you are going to need to do here is take painters tape and very carefully tape the outline of the scratch so that absolutely nothing is showing but the scratch itself. I recommend doing the bottom of the scratch first (entirely) and then taping the top to match (or vice-versa). Take your time here, if you cover part of the scratch it will not get painted, if you leave a painted portion uncovered, it will look like crap. Be very diligent taping the section off, Let me make myself extremely clear here….When you look in between your two lines of painters tape, you should not see anything other than the white from the scratch. If You have multiple deep scratches directly on top of one another (in other words they are touching each other), unfortunately this is going to take you a couple of weeks to repair as you can only do 1 scratch at a time and the paint needs 1 week to cure) Do not try and glob paint on here to cover multiple scratches if you cannot get painters tape in between the scratches to protect the “good” existing paint you need to do it in sections I’m sorry. Alright, so you’re done taping off the scratch, now take some newspaper and tape it to the remaining good paint in the immediate vicinity to protect the rest of the good paint. Don’t be skimpy here, you want room to overspray your can so you get a nice clean sweeping motion that is uninterrupted later. You don’t want to get over spray either from the touch-up paint or the clear coat on the rest of the paint. Here is an idea of what I am talking about (I already started painting when I snapped this picture that is why you see the black paint line, and it is much thicker than the scratch.)
Step 5) take an alcohol pad and wipe the scratch one last time. I can’t stress how important it is to have this area clean. If it’s not clean, your paint will not adhere properly.
Step 6) Now you are ready to begin applying the paint. Whether you are using a brush or a spray can, make sure you apply very even layers. Don’t worry about if your first pass with the paint has not covered the entire scratch. Follow the directions of your touch up paint, most instructions tell you to apply your coats within 10 minutes of each other. Take your time and apply 3-4 coats of paint. On your last coat you can go a tad thicker, but thin even coats are best.
**Note if your scratch is right down to bare metal you’ll want to put on 1 coat of primer paint before you paint the area. If you are not down to bare metal than primer is not needed. I painted mine with a brush because my touch up paint was water-based and in a jar (given to me by a body shop that had painted a part for me in the past) What this entire process is doing is filling in the deep scratch to build it back up to the height of the original paint.
Step 7) Now it is time to apply the clearcoat. This follows the same rules as the paint above, continue to apply the coats within 10 minutes of each other (or follow the directions on the can). This will likely come in a spray can, so again, apply 3 even thin coats to the scratch. Apply this in nice full sweeps of the scratch. Note that with the clearcoat it may look as if when you swept across the scratch nothing applied, it did, remember, this stuff is clear. Don’t keep trying to cake it on, take my word for it, it’s there.
Step 8) Immediately after you have applied your final coat of clearcoat, begin slowly and carefully pulling the tape off. Because you have painted such a thin line, you don’t want it to dry on the tape and possibly be pulled off later when you go to remove the tape, remove the tape now. Note that at this point the scratch will look awful. The paint and clearcoat will have created a raised bump, the part that was scratched will now sit higher than the rest of the paint. Don’t worry about that, this is what is suppose to happen, just don’t touch it…let it be.
Don’t move on to step 9 until a minimum of 7 days have passed to let the paint fully cure on the car.
Step 9) Back to using the rubbing compound. Follow the same exact steps you did in step 1. When completed move on to step 10.
Step 10) Apply polishing compound. Note that this is polishing compound and not polish (please click on the materials link at the beginning to see the difference), there is a difference and people sometimes get them confused. Apply the polishing compound the exact same way that you would the rubbing compound in the step above. When done, move on to step 11.
Step 11) Crack out that package of Quixx. This stuff is phenomenal and one of the key reasons that this comes out so nicely. Follow their instructions. Start with the piece of sandpaper provided. Wet it and begin working on one side of what was your deep scratch. The only pressure you should use here is enough to hold it on the surface of the paint, very light. Keep it flat with your two fingers and rub it in a circular motion on the scratch. Do about a 1inch section at a time. **Note that you can only sand once for a maximum of 15 seconds. Do not do more than this as you will destroy your surrounding clearcoat. I sanded my scratch for only about 10 seconds working an inch section at a time as I worked all the way down the entire length of the scratch. Make sure that you keep the sandpaper wet or it will not work/slide nicely. Don’t go buying your own sandpaper either, this isn’t your run of the mill stuff at your local store. Use what is provided in the package
Step 12) Apply tube 1 (as labelled) on the cloth that they give you. You need to apply a lot of pressure here, so make sure you are doing this on a day that you haven’t just come from the gym with jello arms. I worked about a 4 inch section at a time. Work this paste into the scratch for a minimum of 2 minutes per section. Be sure to wipe off any excess when finished.
Step 13) Apply tube 2 (as labelled) on the other cloth they give you (DO NOT use the same cloth you used for tube 1 with tube 2) Same thing as with tube 1, work a 4inch section with A LOT of pressure for a minimum of 2 minutes before moving on.
Step 14) Almost done. Apply polish (not polishing compound!!) to the scratch. Work it in a small section at a time. For this step you can use a buffer if you are familiar with the operations of it, if not, continue to use your hand. Follow the instructions for your Polish here. Mine stated to let it haze up, and then wipe it off. I applied 2 coats of polish.
Step 15) Apply your Wax the same way you applied your polish. I like the caranuba wax. Just like the polish, I like putting on two coats of wax.
Step 16) Step back and enjoy your hard work. You no longer have any deep scratches on your car. Best case, you can’t see the scratch anymore. Worst Case, you can’t see it from about 2-3 feet away if you have done this properly. This is how my scratches came out. Note that on the rear panel you can still see the scratches on the fuel door. This is because I did not address/paint those at this time.
Step 17) If this guide helped you- share it! Put it on Facebook, twitter, google plus, pin it, reddit, etc. Post it on your car forums- I don’t want money or anything superficial, I want the satisfaction of knowing this helped someone else out of a bad day of misfortune!
Also take a moment and check out some of our other great articles such as:
- How to wax and polish your car
- Rust Prevention and repair
- Painting brake calipers
- Plasti dipping a Jeep Grille