Car Scratch Repair And Cost [2023 Guide] - Auto Chimps (2023)

Unfortunately, car scratches are bound to affect you at some point. They are sometimes caused by loose stones and road debris, while others are caused by objects that touch your car intentionally or unintentionally.

Whatever the cause, you are now left with a scratch on your car. There are several ways to repair a car scratch.

The best repair method depends on the extent of the scratch. A scratch that only affects the clear coat will not be expensive to repair, while a deep scratch could cost thousands of dollars.

In some cases, superficial scratches can be fixed as a DIY project, while more serious scratches are best left to the professionals.

In this guide, I will give you an idea of the estimated repair cost for a car scratch. Let’s get started!

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    Should You Fix A Car Scratch?

    Car Scratch Repair And Cost [2023 Guide] - Auto Chimps (1)

    You may feel that you can ignore a minor scratch on your car, especially if it is barely noticeable.

    However, if you care about your car and want to preserve its appearance in the long term, fixing it is a must.

    If a scratch is not repaired, it will eventually lead to further damage when rust, debris, and other unwanted particles get into the scratch, causing more serious damage.

    As we state in our guide about the cost of paint jobs, paint plays a more important role than simply being aesthetically pleasing; it also protects the car.

    To avoid rust and other damage to your car’s frame, it is best to repair the scratch as soon as possible in an appropriate manner.

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    Types Of Car Scratches

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    Not all scratches are the same. Some are superficial and only affect the clear coat, while deep scratches can run to the body panel.

    Generally, the deeper a scratch is, the greater the cost to repair it. Scratches can be separated into three categories: clear coat scratches, primer scratches, and deep paint scratches.

    Clear Coat Scratch

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    The clear coat protects your car’s paint from the environment and ensures the paint looks good. If it appears that the scratch on your car has only affected the clear coat, you might be in luck!

    You can perform the fingernail test to find out if the scratch is only affecting the clear coat. Simply run your fingernail over the scratch to find out if you can feel it.

    It is, unfortunately, deeper if you can feel the scratch with your nail. On the other hand, if you can’t feel it, grab your toothpaste and get to work!

    Toothpaste? Yes, you read that correctly. Small, clear coat scratches can be a simple DIY fix with some patience, a microfiber towel, and toothpaste.

    wikiHow has a great guide on how to remove superficial clear coat scratches, as well as deeper ones. However, we recommend taking your car to a professional if you suspect the scratch might be deeper.

    Repair Cost For Clear Coat Scratches

    If you don’t feel like using toothpaste to fix a superficial scratch, professional rubbing compounds come in kits that generally cost $100 to $250.

    If you prefer to leave it to the professionals, you can expect to pay $150 to $300, including parts and labor.

    Primer Scratch

    Car Scratch Repair And Cost [2023 Guide] - Auto Chimps (4)

    The primer of the paint also serves a protective role. However, in comparison to the clear coat, a primer scratch is deeper and needs more attention to repair.

    These scratches are not recommended to be fixed as a DIY project, as the paint is far more difficult to fix if you want to match the original finish and look.

    Repair Cost For Primer Scratches

    If you opt to have the work performed by professionals, which we recommend, the cost will vary depending on the extent of the scratch.

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    As a very rough guide, repairing a primer scratch will usually cost between $400 to $1000, including labor and all the necessary materials.

    Deep Paint Scratch

    Car Scratch Repair And Cost [2023 Guide] - Auto Chimps (5)

    A deep scratch is the worst possible scenario when it comes to scratches. This means the scratch has penetrated all layers of the paint job.

    Once the damage has affected the paint, the whole body panel must be repainted. Therefore, the cost depends on which body panel has been affected.

    Repair Cost For Deep Paint Scratch

    This is a job for a professional. Unfortunately, it is also a very expensive job.

    A deep paint scratch will cost $700 to $2500 to repair, depending on the extent of the scratch.

    Protect Your Car from Future Scratches

    Car Scratch Repair And Cost [2023 Guide] - Auto Chimps (6)

    As you have probably realized, scratches can be very expensive to deal with. On the other hand, they can also cause more serious damage to your car.

    The best way to avoid paying to repair expensive car scratches is to avoid getting your car scratched. This may seem obvious, but there are ways to minimize the risk of getting your car scratched.

    A key part of this is to wash your car properly.

    Properly Wash Your Car

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    Many people discover the hard way that automatic car washes (with brushes) are perhaps the most common reason why scratches occur.

    As many cars pass through the car wash, dirt and debris accumulate on the relatively stiff brushes, which then scratch your car.

    This is why it is best to avoid automatic car washes altogether. However, even hand washing your car may result in scratches. It sometimes seems impossible to win this battle.

    A proper handwashing technique will minimize the risk of scratches occurring and will thus prolong the lifespan of your car’s paint job.

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    Over the years, many advancements have been made regarding handwashing a car. Fortunately, it does not have to be as complicated as some people make it.

    The most important rules are using microfiber mitts, good car soap, and drying your car using microfiber towels.

    If you are unsure how to hand wash your car, you can either leave it to the professionals or follow this concise wikiHow guide.


    Car Scratch Repair And Cost [2023 Guide] - Auto Chimps (8)

    Your car will eventually suffer scratches, whether they are from road debris or improper car washing. Whatever the cause, it can be fixed, and there are several precautions you can take to minimize the risk of scratches appearing.

    A scratch on your car, especially a deep one, can lead to further damage to your paint and your car’s metal frame. Therefore, you should resolve any scratches as soon as possible.

    Three main types of scratches exist, depending on which layers of the paint are affected. Clear coat, primer, and deep scratches are the three groups of scratches that indicate the extent of the damage done.

    A clear coat scratch is relatively good, as it can be fixed easily, even with toothpaste. If you decide to take your car to a shop to remove the scratch, you should expect to pay $150 to $300, depending on the size.

    The fingernail test can determine if the scratch only affects the clear coat. Simply run your fingernail over the scratch. If you don’t feel a slight indentation, it is likely a clear coat scratch.

    Primer scratches are deeper than clear coat scratches and are best left to the professionals to handle. These scratches will cost $400 to $1000 to fix as they require greater care and more steps to deal with.

    Car Scratch Repair And Cost [2023 Guide] - Auto Chimps (9)

    The worst possible scratches are deep scratches, which means the scratch has penetrated every layer of the paint job.

    If this occurs, the whole body panel must be repainted, resulting in an expensive bill: $700 to $2500, depending on the body panel.

    As previously stated, a scratch should be fixed as soon as possible. There are also ways to minimize the risk of getting scratches on your car and prolong the lifespan of the paint job.

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    The best advice you can take on board is to properly hand wash your car when it gets dirty. You should avoid automated car washes with brushes as they usually contain debris from previous cars, which may cause scratches.

    Many scratches occur in parking lots. To avoid scratching your car, give some extra thought to where you are parking.

    If you park next to a car that doesn’t appear to be well taken care of, the owner of that car is less likely to care about any possible scratches, which is bad news for you.

    With this in mind, you should try to either park away from other cars or next to cars with sufficient room, and the other cars appear to be well taken care of.

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    How much should it cost to fix a scratch on a car? ›

    At a dealer, the cost to remove a car scratch can range from $150 to $1000—double the amount for repairs to the hood or doors.

    What is the cheapest way to fix a scratch on a car? ›

    Most light scratches can be fixed by polishing the clear coat with a rubbing compound. It will remove the damaged layer and leave your paint looking good as new. If the scratch is deep, you may need to sand the area before polishing it. It will remove any rough edges and make it easier to apply the compound evenly.

    How much does it cost to repair deep paint scratches on a car? ›

    Auto body shops will charge you anywhere from $400 to $1000, and it does not matter if the repair is a small one: once it hits the paint layer the entire part must be repainted. This deep scratch penetrates all 3 layers and reveals the exposed metal.

    Are car scratches worth repairing? ›

    Prompt car scratch repair is crucial, as delaying will expose the paint or metal underneath to the elements and create further issues down the road. Plus, if selling or trading your car might be a possibility in the future, doing a proper scratch repair is especially important.

    How much does it cost to fix a 6 inch scratch on a car? ›

    For minor paint chip, scratch, and scrape repair, you'll pay between $150 and $250 for all of the damage they can fix on your vehicle. Touch-up is great for small, shallow chips and scratches. Dent repairs will cost about $75 per panel.

    Is car scratch covered by insurance? ›

    Yes, you can claim insurance for car scratches and dents in India. However, it is advisable not to do so as it may become an expensive deal for your future motor insurance premiums.

    Does WD 40 get rid of scratches on cars? ›

    One common use for WD40 is to remove car scratches. Given that it is designed to dissolve water, WD40 can help break down the pathways that scratch create on clear coat finishes. This makes it easier to buff out the scratch with a polishing compound.

    How long does it take to fix a scratch on a car? ›

    Small cosmetic damage usually does not require much time to repair. A simple scratch in the paint, or a golf ball-sized dent in a panel, will take about 4-5 days (for the first panel, and 1-2 days extra per additional damaged panel), from dropping your car off to picking it back up, to fix.

    How do you get deep scratches out of a car at home? ›

    Make a paste out of baking soda and water and apply it to the affected area with a clean cloth. Rub the paste into the scratch circular motion and then rinse it off with clean water. You may need to repeat this process a few times to see results.

    Can car detailers fix deep scratches? ›

    Car detailing can hide minor scratches through polishing, waxing, and sealing, but it cannot help with deep scratches. For repairing such a car scratch, you need to get professional services for your car's paint.

    Do dealerships buff out scratches? ›

    How do dealerships fix scratches? they will either buff them out or touch them up. Cars with deeper scratches go to the body shop for repair and repainting as needed..

    Can a body shop fix deep scratches? ›

    To get your car looking its best and to provide your car with maximum protection, it is best to repair deep scratches as soon as possible. The repair process deployed by body shops has the following steps: Cleaning the surface of any dirt or grime. Sand, prime, and fill the dent or scratch as needed.

    Should I report scratch to insurance? ›

    In short, yes, auto insurance will cover scratches. However, the scratches have to be caused by a covered peril in your policy, like a car accident or vandalism. And depending on your deductible, it may not be worth filing a claim. Kara McGinley.

    What happens when a dealership scratches your car? ›

    The dealership will assist with any collision repairs (paid by any combination of you/the guilty party/the insurance company) and serve as a liaison between you and the insurance companies. But the dealership is not responsible for any damage caused. Many dealerships have on-site video cameras for security reasons.

    Why is it best to repair scratches on a car soon after they happen? ›

    Scratches this serious should be looked at as soon as possible so as to avoid any further chipping of the base coat from happening. If scratches this deep are left for too long without being repaired it could also lead to rust damage.

    How do you tell how deep a scratch is on your car? ›

    An easy way to tell is by running your fingernail across the scratch. If it catches, chances are it needs some extra attention. Deeper scratches, however, go past the clear coat into the paint and require more effort to fix, many times by a professional detailer.

    How big of a scratch can touch up paint fix? ›

    If it's a couple of scratches and just a small surface area (2 square inches or less), then using a touch up paint pen will do the trick. If it's larger than that, then you may need to go through a full touch up paint process and essentially re-paint that portion of the vehicle.

    Should I file a claim for scratches on my car? ›

    If the repair costs are less than your deductible, it makes sense to pay for the damage out of pocket. On the other hand, if the damage is more extensive and costly, it may make sense to file a claim for any dents or scratches that need to be repaired.

    What do you do when you scratch someone's car? ›

    What to do when you hit someone's car in a parking lot
    1. Don't drive away from the scene of the accident, no matter how minor. If another customer or a surveillance camera spots you, you could be punished with hit-and-run charges.
    2. Track down the other car's owner. ...
    3. Leave a note. ...
    4. Call the police (if necessary).

    Is a scratch on a car considered damage? ›

    While a scratch is considered minor auto body damage, it is unattractive and is usually noticed at trade-in or lease return.

    What do car detailers use to remove scratches? ›

    Car detailers will start by thoroughly cleaning your vehicle. This is done to keep loose dirt from getting caught in the buffer and scratching your car. Following the washing, the detailer will use their rotary buffer to buff off the scratches with a cutting compound.

    Can I use magic eraser on my car? ›

    While Magic Erasers can come in handy for removing dirt and grim from your car's cupholders and dashboard, don't use them to polish the outside of your car. The eraser's abrasiveness can do damage to your car's paint.

    Should I fix minor car scratches? ›

    Even if you don't mind the appearance of the scratches, the answer is yes, you should get them repaired. Here's why. First, there are several different types of scratches that your car might sustain. While some only cause minor cosmetic damage, others can be deeper and lead to more serious problems, such as rusting.

    What to use to remove deep scratches? ›

    Whitening toothpaste works best but if you don't have any then try any toothpaste you have in your bathroom. Rub the toothpaste into the scratch in a circular motion, applying just enough pressure to ensure the toothpaste is well-distributed across the affected area.

    How deep of a scratch can be buffed out? ›

    In the automotive industry, there is a RULE of THUMB. If your thumb can't catch the scratch then it can be buffed out easily using Toothpaste as it's only on the clear coat of paint and if not then you need to go out with a car scratch repair kit or repainting because it's way too deep to buff out.

    What is considered a major scratch? ›

    Major defect: when scratches are at the front or on the side of the product and the dimensions are over 10mm. Minor defect: when scratches are between 5-10mm and located at the front, back or on the side of the product.

    How do dealerships hide scratches? ›

    If they are light scratches. they will either buff them out or touch them up. Cars with deeper scratches go to the body shop for repair and repainting as needed..

    Should I paint scratches on my car? ›

    Avoid Loss Of Value

    Whether you are planning on selling your car or not, keeping the value of your vehicle as high as possible is always a wise idea. Fixing paint scratches when they occur is one easy way to do that. If you have scratches on your car, the value of it will very likely decrease.

    How do you know if a scratch is too deep to buff? ›

    The DIY test

    To determine if you can do the job at home, run a fingernail very gently across the area with the scratch. If your nail passes over the scratch without any real resistance, you can fix the issue at home. If your fingernail catches inside the scratch, it may be too deep to repair without professional help.

    How much does it cost to buff out scratches and dents? ›

    The dent repair cost may range from $50 to $2,500. Although that's a broad range, most small dents that are roughly an inch in size may cost around $50 to $125. Small indentations may come from a flying rock or piece of hail. Dents stemming from a collision are typically larger and cost $150 or more.

    Do big scratches go away? ›

    Most scrapes heal well and may not need a bandage. They usually heal within 3 to 7 days. A large, deep scrape may take 1 to 2 weeks or longer to heal. A scab may form on some scrapes.

    Do scratches get reported to Carfax? ›

    Any time insurance cuts a check, Carfax is going to show that info. Whether it's a scratch or an actual wreck.

    Are scratches on car permanent? ›

    While unwanted scratches are inevitable, they are also removable. A car scratch remover can safely restore your car's finish permanently. Below are some of our picks for the best car scratch remover.

    Should you wax a car with scratches? ›

    By using car wax on your car, the clear-coat layer of the paint will be masked by incorporating an even coat of wax, which in short can mask the scratch but will not eradicate the scratch entirely - only make it less noticeable.

    Is a scuff the same as a scratch car? ›

    Scuffs versus Scratches

    Scuffs tend to be marks on your car's surface that have rubbed off from an alternate source. Paint from another car, rubber from a bumper, rust from a trash can—all these things can scrape off one item and transfer to your car's paint job. Scratches go much deeper than scuffs.

    How much does it cost to get a car scratch down to metal? ›

    Auto body shops will charge you anywhere from $400 to $1000, and it does not matter if the repair is a small one: once it hits the paint layer the entire part must be repainted. This deep scratch penetrates all 3 layers and reveals the exposed metal.

    Why does it cost so much to fix car scratches? ›

    Once a scratch reaches the paint layer, the entire area will need to be sanded, buffed, and repainted, which means even a small paint scratch can be expensive to fix. Scratch Wizard estimates that these types of scratches can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000 or more to repair.

    How do you know the severity of a car scratch? ›

    An easy way to tell is by running your fingernail across the scratch. If it catches, chances are it needs some extra attention. Deeper scratches, however, go past the clear coat into the paint and require more effort to fix, many times by a professional detailer.


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