How To Repair Scrapes On A Car

One person’s definition of a scrape is likely to be different from another’s. I’d usually describe a scrape as damage that affects the first couple of layers of a car’s finish but not its actual paintwork. Other folks might disagree though.

I think we can all agree that a scrape is a form of damage to a layer/several layers of your car’s finish though.

Here’s what you need to do when it comes to that common car maintenance and car repair issue – dealing with scrapes and scuff marks on your car.  

Types of scrapes on a car

There’s usually four different layers to a car’s finish:

  1. Base layer of bare metal
  2. An undercoat/primer
  3. The paint layer itself
  4. Layers of clear coat to protect the paint layer

The severity of the scrape will depend on deep it is – ie. how many layers of the car’s finish it’s penetrated. For instance, a scrape that’s managed to hit the naked metal of the car will be much harder (and more costly) to repair than a slight scratch that’s only hit the first layer of clear coat.

Types of repair

Like any kind of repair situation, the tactics and tools that you use to fix the problem will depend on the type of damage that you’re dealing with.

1. Surface scrapes

These are the least serious types of scrapes, usually less than a millimetre thick. Think of things like paint scuffs and clear coat scratches. They’re pretty easy to repair by yourself with a car scratch remover kit that you’ll be able to get in any good car shop.

2. Paintwork scrapes

A little more serious than a scrape, but not as bad as seeing the bare metal, a paintwork scrape can be fixed by yourself if you persevere and think things through. All you need to repair most painwork scrapes is a top-up car paint pen and some clear coat.

3. Bare metal scrapes

The most serious type of damage. If you want a lasting repair, you’re probably better off getting a professional bodyshop or garage to have a look at the damage rather than try attempt something yourself.

After all, a bodyshop will have the right set of tools, array of paint and professional expertise to do a pretty seamless repair.

How to repair scrapes on a car

So. Here’s the method I use for repairing scrapes on a car:

1. Work out what type of scrape you're dealing with

How deep is the scrape? If it hasn’t damaged the paint layers of your car’s finish, you’ll probably be able to repair the scrape pretty easily. Do a rough visual check to see how many layers of finish the damage has gone through.

2. Get the appropriate repair kit

The type of scrape you’ve got should dictate the type of repair kit that you use. Once you’ve worked out what the type of damage you’re dealing with is, you should start to gather the right materials to fix it. Do some basic internet research and find the best one for your budget. If you’re repairing a slight scrape to the clear coat layers, a can of clear coat and some polish will probably be all you need. If you’re repairing damage to the paint itself, you’ll need both of these things and a car paint top-up pen too.

3. Polish the area slightly

Next polish the area slightly to abrade the surface and give the clear coat (or paint, if you’re using it) something to stick to. After you’ve polished the area, clean it to to remove any debris or dirt that might get in the way.

4. Repair!

Once you’ve cleaned and polished the area, carry out your repair! What you do exactly will obviously depend on if you’re just repairing the clear coat layers, or the paint layer itself. If you’re doing the former, you’ll just need to spray successive layers of clear coat, building them up progressively until they’ve filled in the damage. If you’re doing the second option, you’ll need to touch up the paintwork, wait for it to dry and then spray the clear coat layers. After those layers have dried, you’ll need to buff them down until they’re level with the finish of the rest of the car.