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Someone Just Scratched Your New Car - Now What?

Apr 8, 2008
You're opening the car door. You glance down at the fender and you see it -- A SCRATCH! You mutter under your breath "THIS is why I can't have anything nice" as your new car lays damaged before you. But fear not! It can be fixed.

ABSOLUTELY NOT! Touch-up paint is one of the worst things you can do.

Don't get me wrong - if you have a big, deep scratch, touch-up paint is probably appropriate. But I don't recommend that an average person uses it. First of all, it's very hard to apply correctly unless you're experienced. Second of all, it's usually overkill. There are other methods of reducing the appearance of a scratch that are easy and relatively cheap.

The best way to fix a light scratch is called "wet sanding". Essentially, a paint pro will do an EXTREMELY light sanding on the scratch which will reorganize the paint/clear-coat molecules and make the scratch "disappear" -- provided of course the scratch isn't too big or too deep.

You can find out if your new scratch is big or deep with a couple of simple tests. When you gently pass your fingernail over the scratch, can you feel a bump? Does the scratch stretch over the entire length of the vehicle or of an individual body panel? If the answer to either of those questions is "yes", then you need to see a body shop and you may need to call the insurance company. Big or deep scratches can be expensive to fix, but not always. Make sure to check around.

If you have a scratch that isn't deep, you're in luck. These light scratches can usually be repaired by a body shop for a token amount of money -- $20-$40 in most cases. As before, make sure the shop has a written guarantee.

Finally, make sure you realize that either one of the above methods will greatly diminish the appearance of the scratch, but the scratch can't truly be "fixed". It's never going to look the way it did before. Hopefully though it will be too hard for anyone else to see it and no one will know about it but you.
About the Author
Author Jason Lancaster, a car business veteran, created AccurateAutoAdvice.com. You'll find accurate advice on auto touch up paint and new car warranties.
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