Car Scratch Repairs and Costs: 2022 Owner's Guide | SmartFinancial (2023)

If your car got scuffed up and you're considering filing an insurance claim to fix car scratches, there are a few things you need to know before you proceed. Consider a rate hike, if you file a claim, versus paying out-of-pocket. Consider the fact that there will be a deductible to pay (there always is with a claim!). There are also steps you can take to fix car scratches yourself on the cheap. Car scratch costs vary according to the severity and depth of the scratches, which may or may not require painting an entire area. Minor scratch repair costs can be as low as $12 for minor scratches you can fix yourself or as high as $1,500 for deep scratches fixed by a body shop. The average car scratch repair cost is $630.46. Most deductibles for car insurance range from $500 to $1,000.

Types of Damage and Car Scratch Repair Costs

Scratch Wizard, a manufacturer of automotive coatings and detailing products, recently surveyed 30 body shops to find the average prices to repair car scratches on a Honda Civic. The company sent pictures to 30 body shops and requested a damage assessment. They also asked how long the shops would need to repair the vehicle..

They received replies from 13 companies. The cheapest estimate they received was $300 and the most expensive one was $1,161. The average price to repair scratch damage was $630.46.

There are four types of scratches that can affect your car. They fall under two categories: minor and deep-level scratches.

Minor Car Scratch Repair Costs

Scuffs are collections of light surface scratches that only damage the clear coat of your vehicle's paint job. To test whether a scuff has damaged only your clear coat, rub with spit. If the scratch disappears, it is probably a scuff. These usually disappear when you apply moisture.

Repairs: You can repair car scratches, like scuffs, yourself with a rubbing compound purchased from an auto parts store ($12). A body shop will charge $50 - $70.

Clearcoat scratches are light surface damages that only affect your car's clear coat paint. They haven't penetrated the clear coat of your car's paint job, and don't require a paint job. You can get rid of these scratches yourself by using a compound purchased from an auto parts store.

Repairs: For surface-level clearcoat scratches: You can get rid of a clearcoat scratch with a rubbing compound from an auto body store ($12). Before applying the solution, clean the area with rubbing alcohol. Next, follow the manufacturer's directions to cover the scratch. An auto body shop can also repair this for $50 - $70.

For deeper clearcoat scratches, you'll need wet/dry 2000 grit sandpaper. Next, use alcohol to clean the area. Soak the sandpaper in water, then use it to sand the scratch. After you've finished, use a rubbing compound to eliminate the sand scratches. Once you're finished, use a polisher to shine the area. The materials will cost you $30. A body shop will charge you $150-$300 to do the same.

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Deep Car Scratch Repair Costs

Paint scratches affect the paint layer and require a car paint job. Scratch and dent repair costs are the highest.

Repairs: If you want to try and repair the car scratches yourself, you'll need to purchase a touch-up paint pen or a bottle-and-brush from an auto parts store. First, clean the area with rubbing alcohol. Next, use the smallest brush possible with a tiny amount of paint and apply it to the area. It will cost $30 to do it yourself. Auto body shops charge $400 - $1,000 to repair these scratches, even if they are small since body shops must paint the entire area.

Deep paint scratches expose your vehicle's bare plastic or metal surface.

Repairs: According to J.D. Power, You can use a glazing putty, instead of a scratch removal paste, to fix deeper-level scratches ($10). Clean the area first with rubbing alcohol to remove all dirty and residual wax from the area. Next, apply the putty directly on the scratch. A dime-sized amount usually works. The putty should fill the scratch space to help restore it to its original condition. Smooth the putty using a spreader tool, like a squeegee. Allow the putty to cure and harden for three minutes without interruption.

Once the process finishes, you can remove the excess putty using a microfiber cloth soaked with a liquid paint leveler. Next, continue rubbing with the cloth until the scratch is a flat, colored line. After you've completed it, you can paint over the scratches you've filled in.

Home repair would cost about $40. A body shop will charge $800 - $1,500.

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How Much Are Car Scratch Repairs?

Type of Scratch


Body Shop




Clearcoat Scratches



Paint Scratches



Deep Paint Scratches



Insurance Deductible

Comprehensive insurance deductibles


Deductible Versus Paying Out of Pocket

It's not always a good idea to file an insurance claim to fix your vehicle's scratched paint job. If possible, consider paying out of pocket for low-cost repairs. For one thing, after a rate hike, your insurance premiums will quickly exceed the insurance settlement you used to cover your repair costs. Additionally, it makes no sense to file a claim if your bill doesn't exceed your deductible.

Another factor you should consider is whether your repairs are worthwhile based on your car's current market value. Some people decide to fix their vehicle's cosmetic damage before they sell it; however, it may not be worth it to repair car scratches if your vehicle has depreciated heavily.

For instance, if your car is worth $3,000, it isn't worth it to pay $1,000 to fix scratches, since the repairs would exceed a large percentage of your car's value.

If the scratches are minor, consider repairing them yourself to save money and avoid filing a claim.

If the scratches are minor, consider repairing them yourself to save money. You can get a repair kit from your local auto parts shop to fix them.

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Does Car Insurance Cover Scratches and Keying?

Yes, you may use your car insurance to fix scratching and keying damages. You can filean auto insurance claimas long as you havecomprehensive coverage, which pays to repair or replace vehicles damaged in non-collision events, such as fires, falling objects and acts of vandalism. You'll have to pay for your repair costs out of pocket if you solely haveliability insurance. Additionally,car repair insurance coveragedoesn't pay for cosmetic damages.

You may use your comprehensive car insurance to fix scratching and keying damages, but your rate may go up.

If your insurer approves your comprehensive insurance claim, you must pay your deductible before insurance pays for the damages. You can also sue the vandal in small claims court if you have proof. You can file a suit regardless of whether your carrier paid off the claim.

If I File a Claim, Will My Insurance Rates Go Up?

Your premiums may increase if you file a car insurance claim to repair scratches. The increase can be as much astwo percent, depending on your driving record and claims history. This hike isn't as high as it would be for at-fault accidents, poor credit scores or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges becausecomprehensive claimsinvolve events that are out of the driver's control.

Your increase could be higher than two percent if you've filed other insurance claims, especially within the past two or three years.

According to theInsurance Information Institute, a rate increase after an auto insurance claim varies depending on the carrier.

What Should You Do When Someone Keys Your Vehicle?

There are several steps you should take if someone has keyed your vehicle. The process to file an insurance claim is similar to others.

  • Gather evidence of your damages to support your claim. If there are nearby buildings, ask the owners if they have security cameras that point towards where you were parked. You should get this footage to learn who the perpetrators were. If possible, find out if there are any eyewitnesses to the crime.
  • Next, take photographs of all damages to your vehicle. Your shots should be clear and show the damage from different angles.
  • Call the police. You'll need to file a police report to file a comprehensive claim. Your insurer can also sue the criminal if law enforcement tracks them down.
  • Contact your insurance company to begin the claims process. An insurance adjuster will visit your home to assess and validate your vehicle damages.
  • Get an auto shop estimate so you can learn how much it will cost to repair your vehicle. The repair shop may also notice damage to your bumper, gas tank or locks.

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Comprehensive Insurance and Car Scratch Repairs

Your vehicle requires insurance protection in case someone or something damages it. When shopping for a new policy, consider adding comprehensive insurance to cover damages from vandalism.Although your insurer may cover car scratches, consider fixing them yourself or paying for repairs to keep your car insurance rate low, especially if the repairs are low cost and don't exceed your deductible.

When shopping for a car insurance policy with comprehensive coverage, SmartFinancial can match you with an agent who can meet your needs and budget. If you're dissatisfied with your current coverage or the way a claim was handled by your current insurer, SmartFinancial can help you find a cheaper alternative. Get a free car insurance quote by entering your zip code below.


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.

How much does it cost to get scratches out of car surfaces? ›

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.

Is it worth filing a claim for a car scratch? ›

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 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 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.

Are scratches covered by car 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.

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 scratches? ›

Even a small scratch will usually run no less than $150 – $200. A body shop can often perform the work cheaper than a dealership. There are three different types of paintwork repairs to scratches used by body shops.

How do you tell if a scratch can be buffed out? ›

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 do minor scratches devalue a car? ›

An average accident can decrease a car's value instantly (and permanently) by 10 – 25% annually, whereas an accident that only creates light damage (such as light scratches or small dents that don't impact the paint) will only decrease its value by 5-15%.

Should you 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.

What to do if someone scratched my car? ›

Don't leave the scene or move your car. Locate the person who hit your car and exchange information (if possible) Take photos and contact the authorities to file a police report. Contact your insurer and file a claim if necessary.

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.

Will car detailing fix 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.

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 fix a big deep scratch on a car? ›

Most of your deep scratches will need a filler like a glazing putty to create an even surface. Before filling the cracks with putty, wipe the area clean with rubbing alcohol. This removes any residual grime that you might have missed and allows the putty to stay in place.

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.

Does fully comprehensive insurance cover scratches? ›

If you have fully comprehensive car insurance, your normal policy should cover scratches and dents – but it might not be worth claiming on it. Every time you make a claim on your cover, insurers take note. If you make claims too often, you'll miss out on a no claims bonus.

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.

Is a scratch considered damage? ›

Scratches larger than 2”, or multiple scratches per panel, will be considered damage. Damage will be considered a scratch if it is through the paint.

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 much does it cost to repair deep paint scratches? ›

These types of scratches are the most expensive to repair, with auto body shops charging anywhere from $800 to $1,500 on average for deep paint scratch repair.

What do car dealerships use to 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.. Superficial scratches can be buffed out.
  • Color-tinted wax to match paint.
  • Regular wax, heavily applied, sometimes fills scratches.
  • WD-40 sprayed on.

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.

How long does it take a body shop to fix scratches? ›

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.

What is considered a deep scratch on car? ›

Deep scratches on a car, or primer scratches, extend down into the primer layer and often into the bare metal of your car. To fix a deep scratch on a car follow these three steps: Clean and fill the scratch. Apply a new layer of enamel paint and clear coat.

How big 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 the difference between scuff and scratch? ›

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.

Should I repair minor scratches on car? ›

Paint scratches can be large or small, and range from surface scratches to very deep ones – but no matter the size, it's a good idea to repair your scratch quickly.

Is it worth fixing minor scratches on car? ›

The simple answer is YES. Minor marks look unpleasant, but there are other consequences of leaving it untreated. You might think you can leave it alone to save money, but you might spend more money in the long run by putting off the simple fix.

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.

Do people report car scratches? ›

If a scratch or scratches occur because of deliberate defacement or vandalism, making a police report is the first step in the process. Filing an insurance claim is the next step but only if the policy includes comprehensive coverage on the vehicle.

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.

Can Magic Eraser fix scratches on car? ›

No, Magic Eraser does not remove car scratches. Further, you should not use a Magic Eraser on a car finish as it could ruin the paint. Instead use a very fine automotive polish and not too aggressively. Polish will take out orange-peel and minor surface scratches.

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.

What is the difference between a deep scratch and a light scratch car? ›

Light scratches usually come out relatively easily by buffing and / or polishing the clear coat. Deep scratches require sanding and careful repair of each impacted layer. This is arduous and delicate work. It's easy to make a mistake, but is usually correctible if you put in the time and effort.

Can buffing remove deep scratches? ›

Buffing with the compound should be enough to erase most moderately deep scratches. If you can't completely remove the scratch with the buffing compound, you might still be able to ameliorate the scratch with some touch-up paint.

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.

What is considered a deep scratch? ›

Deep scratches require removal of the clear coat of the entire panel, or at least a large area. Every affected paint layer must be repaired before the clear coat is applied again. Trying your hand at a DIY repair could get you a long way.

What kind of scratches can be buffed out? ›

Small scratches can usually be rubbed out with polishing compound. The rule of thumb is that if your fingernail doesn't catch on the scratch, it's just a superficial clear coat scratch that can be smoothed out and made invisible.

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.

Do detailers buff out scratches? ›

Does car detailing remove scratches? The very simple answer to this question is no. Car-detailing cannot get rid of scratches, at least, not permanently, As the process does not work on repairing the scratches entirely, it only fixes and hides the milder ones.


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