Fix a deep paint scratch at home for just $20

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deep paint scratch chrisfix
YouTube/ChrisFix

The choice to own a car with nice paint is a tough one. Care and attention needs to be lavished upon your beloved ride to keep its paint in tip-top shape, but the harsh realization is no matter how much love you shower on your shiny steed, other people can swoop in and ruin it without even realizing it.

Most folks don’t realize how destructive commonplace items can be to a car’s laughably thin clearcoat, including items as mundane as the rivets on your jeans, the keys hanging on your belt loop, or your belt buckle. The only way to ensure your paint is never scratched is to place it in a sealed environment, which is, frankly, not much fun.

Eventually, we’ll probably have to fix a scratch or two. As with any project, you can opt for the good, better, or best way to make a paint repair. ChrisFix recently took a look at the best way to repair a scratch at home on a budget.

At its core, this method revolves around serious preparation and the willingness to make things worse before they get better. A good paint job needs a solid foundation; ironically, a deep scratch is best treated by removing a bit more material.

ChrisFix uses the abrasive tip of a $15 paint touch-up pen, but the same effect can be accomplished with careful use of sandpaper. (I recommend wet sanding in situations like this, because it tends to remove material slightly slower and thus helps to protect eager DIYers from removing too much material.) The goal is to remove the jagged edges of the scratch and create a smooth-sided “trough” profile into which you can put the touch-up paint.

Once that sanding is complete, a quick wipe down with a wax-and-grease remover prepares the surface for paint. Taping around the scratch ensures that any material applied stays in the immediate area and prevents a potentially messy cleanup. In the video, ChrisFix applies paint with a small brush, but you could use an aerosol can or small paint gun to apply thin layers of paint, too. It is important to take the time here to apply multiple thin coats so they can cure and adhere properly. Layer the new paint until it is slightly proud compared to the factory paint around it.

Once you’ve built up the necessary layers of new paint, it’s time to remove the extra. Use the wet sanding method to blend the repair into the surrounding paint. Once the surface is level, a bit of polishing will finish the job.

Though you can strip and repaint the entire panel or strike a check for a professional job, this DIY method is cheaper by far. You won’t erase all evidence of the scratch but, with time and patience, the results will be worth it.

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