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How to repair a scratch on your new car

Apr 8, 2008
You've just exited the store and are striding confidently towards your new car when you notice something isn't right -- the paint is SCRATCHED! You look around, hoping to see the culprit, vainly wishing they were still around so you could vent your rage. Then, you walk up to the scratch hoping it will "rub-off". Alas, that doesn't work either. What do you do next -- get out the touch-up paint?

For God's sake NO! The sound of the words "touch-up paint" always make me cringe.

Unless the scratch is HUGE, touch-up paint in the bottle is a bad idea. It's hard to apply (unless you've got experience) and it's usually overkill. The good news is that there are some methods that will remove or greatly reduce the appearance of the scratch on your new car, and they're surprisingly inexpensive.

For a light scratch, a wet sand is the preferred method. Basically, the paint is sanded with rubbing compound and the surface molecules of the paint are reorganized to fill the scratch and make it disappear. Provided your scratch isn't deep, this is the way to fix it.

How do you know if you have a deep scratch? Can you feel it with your fingernail? Is bare metal showing? Is the scratch longer than 10"? If you can answer any of these questions with a yes, go to the local body shop. Make sure to get a written guarantee and a few quotes -- repairing a deep or big scratch can cost anywhere from $50 to $1000 dollars, so 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.

With all repairs, nothing works 100%. There's a good chance that the local body shop will remove most of the scratch, but often times a small scratch remains. Relax. You're probably the only one that sees it because you know where to look. You can be happy that it looks a lot better than it did before.
About the Author
Author Jason Lancaster, an auto business veteran, created AccurateAutoAdvice.com. You'll find accurate advice on new car warranty tips and auto touch up paint.
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