How to Repair a Deep Scratch in Car Paintwork

Whilst it is possible to repair minor scratches and chips to car paintwork with a touch-up pen, a deeper scratch is going to need a little more effort to repair. It will need to be filled, flattened, and then painted. In this short guide, you will learn how to repair a deep scratch in car paintwork as a DIY project by following just a few simple steps and using easily purchasable products.

Prepare the paintwork for repair – wash the damaged area using dish detergent, or if it is particularly dirty a proper solvent. The idea here is to remove all dirt, grime, oil and car cleaning solutions such as wax from the paintwork.

Clean up the damaged area using a sanding pen – run the sanding pen along the deep scratch, and over the surrounding paintwork lightly, to remove any last traces of dirt.

Fill the deep scratch with spot putty – this is a special product that has been designed to be used as an easily applied, quick drying and hard wearing filler for deep scratches in car paintwork. Most usually the spot putty will come with a small plastic applicator. Fill the deep scratch with the putty.

Remove excess spot putty – whilst the spot putty is still wet and malleable, use a damp cloth to rub any excess putty away from the surrounding paintwork. Do this lightly, you do not want to actually remove any putty from the scratch itself. If you apply too much pressure, and you end up removing putty from the scratch or making a depression in it, you will need to add more putty and then repeat this step.

Apply the new paint – using an artist’s brush with a very fine point, you will need to apply fresh paint over the putty once it has set hard. You can purchase small color matched bottles of car paint for most colors of paintwork. Only lightly add paint at first, and then build up the thickness using multiple coats.

Smooth the new paint and re-apply if needed – for the largest of scratches, one application of paint may not be enough. You may need to use wet and dry paper to cut back the paint, and then re-apply an additional coat. You can do this as many times as you need, to achieve a perfect result. However, ensure that you allow the paint plenty of time to dry between each iteration of cutting back and re-application.

Polish and buff the final coat of paint – this is the finishing touch. Most car wax products can be used to actually remove a very fine layer of paint. If you use a proper buffing cloth, you can manually wax and buff the damaged area. By doing this, you will merge the older surrounding paint, into the newer freshly applied paint. If you get this stage right, you will be left with a repair to your car paintwork that is going to be almost completely invisible.