There is nothing worse than coming out to your parking space to find a big scratch on your car. Often times people will not leave a note when they have damaged an automobile. In some cases, a person could have scratched your car without even realizing it. A recent market research study showed that the average cost to fix a scratch on a medium-priced sedan was $630.46.
If your car has a great deal of damage, a showroom quality paint job can cost as much as $7,500. A deep scratch in the bumper can cost up to $2500. If you decide to fix deep scratches in your car yourself, you will have to buy the paint as well as the primer and sandpaper. The total cost can be as much as $1500.
If you use your car for business, such as a ride share service or for driving clients or potential clients, the appearance of your car is quite important. Depending on the location of the dents or scratches on the body, it can affect the performance and life span of the vehicle.
All cars are certain to get some dings and scratches even if you are a very conscientious car owner. Snow, rain, and hail can cause body damage to your car, and so can gravel from the road. There are several different types of scratches that a car can get.
A Deep Paint Scratch
If your car has exposed metal, the scratch is considered to be deep.
A Standard Paint Scratch
If the paint on the car is scratched, but you do not see metal or plastic, you have a standard scratch.
Scuffs and Clear Coat Scratches
If there is a little damage to your clear coat, you have a scuff mark. If the scuff mark is a bit longer then it is considered a clear coat scratch.
Before you pay money to have any damage to your car repaired, there are a few things you ought to take into consideration.
Will Your Insurance Cover it?
If the scratches and dents on your car are due to an accident, insurance will cover it. If you have had an accident in which your car was totaled, an auto insurance company will generally pay for body damage to your car and for all of your medical bills. If you have an accident with injuries, reporting it to your insurance company is generally worth it.
If you have an accident with no injuries and only physical damage to your automobile or if it should sustain minor scratches from trees and gravel along the road, you may be able to file a claim depending on your insurance policy. Remember that insurance claims come with deductibles. You will want to decide if the repairs are worth what you would have to pay for the deductible.
You should also bear in mind that insurance claims can make your monthly payments go up. If you were not around when your car was scratched, the insurance company will investigate to make sure the scratches were not your fault. They may accept photographs or they may require an inspection. It is a good idea to consider how much time you will spend on the repairs overall and decide if it is worth the trouble.
Fixing the Damage Yourself
If the damages to your car are merely cosmetic and fairly minor, you are likely to consider the possibility of taking care of the problem yourself. If a scratch is very small, you can actually use toothpaste to remove it. If a scratch is deeper, you may need to buy yourself quite a bit of paint. You can determine if a scratch is deep or slight by running your fingernail along the surface.
Removing a Scratch with Toothpaste
Clean the area of the scratch thoroughly and make sure the car is completely dry before you begin.
You should always use whitening toothpaste and a microfiber cloth. Rub the toothpaste in small circles and distribute it equally. Only use a small amount of pressure as you scrub. When you are done, you should wash the area again and clean it with a microfiber towel. You may have to repeat the process a few times.
Cover Deep Scratches With Paint
If you have deep scratches in your car, you will have to use paint to cover them. Wash your car and dry it twice before you begin. Wash the scratched areas a third time.
You can get a primer that is close to the color of your car at a hardware store. It is not going to be an exact match, but it will not matter because the paint will cover it. You will have to contact your vehicle’s manufacturer to get a color of paint that is an exact match for your car. They will determine the color of paint that you need by looking at your car’s VIN number. When touching up scratches, a lacquer based paint is used as opposed to an enamel based paint. Lacquer based paint shrinks when you use it, so you will need more coats than you would if you used enamel.
You will need sandpaper to scratch away the top layer of paint. You will have to be very careful when you do this, so as not to cause further damage. You should rinse off the area and check it as you go along. You must always rinse and dry the sanded area thoroughly. After that, spray several coats of primer on the sanded area. You should wait for 5 to 10 minutes between each coat.
You will then begin to paint. You will have to use several coats and wait for 5 to 10 minutes between coats. When you are done you will seal your paint job with wax. Be careful to put the wax on in a circular motion and distribute it equally.
Cost of Going to a Dealership For Repairing a Scratch
If you have a newish car, your dealership is likely to have the exact shade of paint for your vehicle. As you probably already know, going to the dealership is not cheap. If you just want to buy the paint and do it yourself, you can pay anywhere from $50 to $300 for two ounces of VIN matched paint. If you want the dealership to paint the car for you you should know that repainting a bumper can cost anywhere from $500 to $1000. Fixing a scratch on doors or hoods can run over $2000.
Due to recent economic conditions, dealerships are sure to see a downturn in sales, and they are likely to make up for it by raising the cost of repairs.
A dealership also specializes in certain makes of cars. Their mechanic is likely to have training on that particular type of vehicle. Although fixing a scratch does not require specialized training, a mechanic who has gone through specialized training is likely to make a high salary. The dealership will pass the cost along to you. They are likely to have manufacturer specific equipment for certain jobs, but fixing scratches requires no such equipment.
Most dealerships will have a flat rate for each service that they will offer you when you call in. If you pay for five hours of labor and the job is finished in four hours, you are still going to pay for five hours of labor. However, if the job takes six hours, you would still pay for only five hours of labor.
Using an Auto Body Shop
If you are just getting a standard or deep scratch repaired, an independent autobody shop should be able to handle it just as well as the dealership. They can call the auto manufacture, give them the VIN number and obtain the correct type of paint.
It is always a good idea to call at least three auto body shops to get bids on your repair. There are Google tools that you can use to give you an estimate for a repair, but they can be unreliable.
An auto body shop will have airbrushing equipment which can be a relatively inexpensive means of fixing a scratch. Sometimes car lots will use airbrushing equipment to cover scratches, bumps, and dings on used cars they are trying to sell.
A professional body shop can give your scratched vehicle a more detailed repair. They will fix the scratches one panel at a time using both dry and wet sanding and many layers of paint. If the appearance of your vehicle is very important to you, or if you have a pearl or metallic finish, this might be necessary. You can save a bit of money by getting them to use a combined base and clear coat.
Check out the Auto Body Shop
The recommendations of friends and reviews on websites such as Yelp are a good way to begin checking out an auto body shop. Bear in mind that some review sites give preferential treatment to businesses that pay them to push good reviews to the top and hide bad critiques. You should check out AAA’s website as they have a list of approved auto shops.
As with any business, you should always make sure they have a good grade from the Better Business Bureau. Read any complaints carefully, and make sure they were all resolved. The mechanics in a good auto body shop will have certifications from trade schools. Be sure to ask the shop if they guarantee their work. Let them know that you are taking bids and ask if they will match a competitor’s price.
Finding an Independent Mechanic
Websites like Craigslist offer independent contractors the opportunity to advertise their services. Most of these mechanics operate out of their homes. Some of them are likely to be perfectly capable of fixing scuffs and surface scratches. Make sure to ask them for references and how many years of experience they have.
You are likely to have to provide the worker with the paint and primer if you go this route. Hiring a person who works on cars for a living is a viable alternative to doing the job yourself as they are likely to have more experience than you do. It will also save you quite a bit of time. The amount of money you will pay for such labor varies greatly from person to person, so be sure to do your homework.
Ask Yourself if it is Worth the Trouble
If your car has suffered a great deal of body damage, you might want to ask yourself if it is even worth it to get the scratches repaired. If your car is your only mode of transportation and you cannot afford a new one, you can always choose to just live with the damages until you can afford to replace it.
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