As the weather gets warmer and the sun shines brighter, many drivers are excited to wash their cars by hand or take on other do-it-yourself vehicle-care projects. Drivers also find themselves traveling more in the summer months, with greater amounts of highway and dirt-road driving taking place. As drivers spend more time with their vehicles, they’re more likely to notice things like dents and scratches left over from the winter, spring, and fall.

When many vehicle owners see a scratch, their first instinct may be to rub it out with polishing compounds or to use other scratch removal techniques. However, this won’t work for all scratches. Sometimes a scratch can be deeper than you think and may require a professional touch.

The basics of automotive paint

Most cars today have three levels of paint on top of the bare metal that makes up a vehicle’s body. Listed from closest to the metal to furthest outside, these coats are the primer, the base coat, and the clear coat. The clear coat tends to be the thickest of the three coats. Some vehicle’s paint jobs may be slightly different and may use chip guards or direct gloss, but the three coats mentioned earlier are the most commonly used. To learn more about some of the other key terms and possible varieties of automotive paint, you can click here to read this article.

Most scratches that can be described as small, minor, or shallow are scratches that are only as deep as the clear coat. A deep scratch on the other hand may damage the base coat, the primer, and possibly even the metal body of a vehicle. In most cases, the deeper a scratch goes, the harder it is to repair.

When to See a Professional

In most cases, small scratches that only affect the clear coat can be rubbed out with a polishing compound. A neat trick to remember is that if you run your fingernail across the scratch and it doesn’t catch on that scratch, you know that you’re probably just dealing with a clear coat scratch. If this is the case, the scratch can most likely be smoothed to the point where it is not visible with the use of polishing compound.

If you’ve tried the fingernail test and find that what you’re dealing with is more than a small clear coat scratch, or if the polishing compound simply does not work, we recommend taking it to your trusted autobody shop.

We would also recommend taking your car to a professional if you’re not confident in your ability to use polishing compound or if you’re unsure how deep the scratch really is. There’s no harm in asking for a professional opinion before buying all kinds of products to find the scratch is more than you can handle. If you bring it to Reliable Collision, we would be happy to have one of our trained experts take a look.

For top-notch bodywork, dent or scratch repair, or automotive painting, give us a call at (401) 823-4770 or stop by 31 Providence St. in West Warwick, RI on Mon-Fri at 8:00-5:00.