Understanding Automobile Scratches and Scuffs


Whether your ride is preloved or brand new, discovering scratches and scuffs can drive you over the edge. They make the exterior look aged and neglected therefore decreasing the value of your car, truck or SUV.

What is a Car Scratch?

Scratches and scuffs are impurities that mark the surface of a vehicle. Sometimes, unavoidable circumstances such as driving on roads with small rocks or gravel are the source of the damage. Other times a driver may brush up against a pole, side of a garage or another vehicle as they are pulling in or out of a parking space. Whatever the case, this type of damage is common and completely repairable!

Identifying a Scratch

While you can’t always tell at first glance if the damage is a scratch, you can get a better idea by touching the mark. Remember, the depth of the scratch will determine the repair procedure. If you run your finger along the scratch easily it might be easily buffed and polished out. If the scratch is deeper, it will catch your finger nail. Deeper scratches can indicate the clear coat has been compromised and the part will most likely require repainting. If you see bare metal or primer you know both the clear coat and the color have been damaged. This will definitely require repainting.

What Is Clear Coat?

Clear coat is a clear layer over the paint color. The clear coat protects your car from harmful environmental effects, like the sun and will significantly reduce color fading. Clear coat acts as a protective barrier to the paint.

How are Scratches or Scuffs Repaired?

Once you have determined the type of scratch or scuff, you may have a few options. Usually these options depend on the value of your car, the size of the damage, the amount you want to spend on repairs and your expectations.

• Touch Up Paint: Touch up paint is an option, but it will depend on your expectations. If you have a new car or even a luxury car that is a few years old, you may not want to opt for touch up paint. Touch up paint often does not match and will actually bring more attention to the scratch or scuff.

• Buffing and Polishing: If your vehicle simply has a surface scratch this is an option. Buffing and polishing are often inexpensive and less time consuming.

• Brush Touch: If your car is a candidate, Airpark Collision Center’s refinish technician will mix paint to match your car, use a professional brush and then apply clear coat over the paint. This method is better than a consumer using touch up paint at home, but not as good as sanding, priming, repainting and clear coating the auto body part. Once again it depends on the customer’s expectations and amount they would like to spend.

• Refinish the Door, Bumper, or Fender: Refinishing the part will deliver the best results but is the most time consuming and most expensive. If you are at this point you may want to consider making an insurance claim. This method will require masking off the part or possibly removing it from the rest of the vehicle. The part will be sanded, primed and then repainted and baked in a professional paint booth for a professional, dust free finish. The paint is mixed just for your vehicle using the manufacturer paint code, ensuring an excellent match. The part is sprayed with clear coat and baked.

A scratch or scuff is unfortunate, but when it happens remember you have options. Stop in at Airpark Collision Center for a free estimate and our professional team can help you determine the course of repair. Walk in estimates are welcome!

Airpark Collision Center

Tina Small has been part of the Airpark Collision Center team since 2006. Working directly with customers, her goal is to share frequent customer questions, and proper methods of collision repair.