Car Scratch Repair And Cost

Who doesn't love a beautiful, scratch-free car? Unfortunately, a car might get scratches. Here's a guide to help you pinpoint the repair cost.

Car scratches are unfortunately bound to happen. Sometimes they are caused by rocks and road debris, while at other times, they may be caused by objects that touch the cars intentionally or unintentionally.

Whatever the cause might be, the fact is that you now have a scratch on your car. There are several ways to repair a car scratch.

The repair mostly depends on the extent of the scratch. A scratch that only affects the clear coat is not that expensive while a deep scratch can cost thousands of dollars.

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

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Should You Fix A Car Scratch?

Deep scratches

Some may avoid fixing a new car scratch if it does not bother them. However, if you care about your car and want to extend its longevity, fixing it is a must.

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

As we stated in our article about the cost of paint jobs, the paint plays a greater role than being esthetically pretty – it also protects the car.

So, to avoid rust and damage to your car’s frame, it is best to fix the car scratch as soon as possible in a satisfactory manner.

Types Of Car Scratches

Light scratches

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

Generally, the deeper a scratch is, the bigger the cost. The scratch can be divided into three categories: Clear coat scratch, primer scratch, and deep paint scratch.

Clear Coat Scratch

clear coat scratch

The clear coat protects the paint job from the environment and makes sure the paint looks good. If it turns out that the scratch on your car only affects the clear coat, you are in luck!

To see if the scratch in questions is only affecting the clear coat, you can do the fingernail test. Simply feel the scratch with your fingernail and see if you can notice the scratch with your nail only.

If you can feel the scratch with your nail, the scratch is unfortunately, deeper, but if you do not 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 a bit of 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 that you take your car to a professional if deeper scratches are in question.

Repair Cost For Clear Coat Scratches

If you do not feel like using toothpaste to fix the superficial scratch, there are also professional rubbing compounds that come in kits which may cost $100 to $250.

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

Primer Scratch

primer scratch

The primer of the paint job also has a protective role. However, unlike 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 paint can be very hard to fix and get the original finish and look.

Repair Cost For Primer Scratches

If you prefer to get it done by professionals, which you should, the cost will vary depending on the exact extent of the scratch.

To give a rough estimate, a primer scratch will cost around $400 $1000, this also includes labor and all the necessary material.

Deep Paint Scratch

deep paint scratch

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

Once the damage has hit the paint, the whole body panel must be repainted. The cost therefore mainly depends on what body panel is affected.

Repair Cost For Deep Paint Scratch

This is a job for a professional, and unfortunately, it is a very expensive job.

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

Protect Your Car from Future Scratches

scratches on gray car

As you may have noticed, scratches can be an expensive story, but they may also cause more serious damage to your car.

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

The next best thing to do is to properly wash your car, here is why.

Properly Wash Your Car

hand holding soapy sponge washing car

Many people know that automatic car washes (with brushes) are one of the greatest, if not, the greatest reason why scratches occur.

As many cars go through the car wash, dirt and debris get on the relatively stiff brushes which always cause scratches to some extent.

It is, therefore, best to avoid automatic car washes altogether, however, even hand washing your car may result in scratches. It really seems that you can never win this battle.

A proper hand washing technique will minimize the risk of scratches occurring and will prolong the longevity of your car’s paint job. 

Throughout the years, many advancements have been done when it comes to handwashing a car. Fortunately, it does not have to be as complicated as some make it.

The most important thing is that you use microfiber mitts, good soap, and dry your car with microfiber towels.

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


scratches on red car

Your car will eventually get scratches, may it be from road debris or improper car washing. Whatever the cause may be, it can be fixed in most cases and several steps can be taken to minimize the risk for scratches to appear.

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

In general, three types of scratches exist depending on what layers of the paint are affected. Clear coat-, primer-, and deep scratches are three general groups of scratches that dictate the extent of damage done.

A clear coat scratch is good news, as it can be fixed easily, even with toothpaste. If you plan to take it to a shop to get rid of the scratch, it will cost you $150 to $300 depending on the size.

The fingernail test determines if the scratch only affects the clear coat. Simply take your finger and run the scratch over with your nail. If you do not feel a small indentation, it is a clear coat scratch.

Primer scratches are deeper than clear coat scratches and are best left for professionals to handle. These scratches will cost $400 to $1000 to fix as more care and steps need to be taken.

scratches on blue car

The worst possible types of scratches are deep scratches which means that the scratch has penetrated all the layers of the paint job.

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

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

The biggest step you can take is to properly hand wash your car when it gets dirty. Avoid automated car washes with brushes as they usually contain debris from previous cars, which results in scratches.

Many scratches also occur in the parking lots. To avoid getting your car scratched, give some thought to where you are parking.

If you park next to a car that is not taken care of, chances are that the owner of that car does not care if any scratches occur on their or your car.

Consequently, you should look to park either away from other cars or next to cars where there is enough room and the cars in question are looked out after.

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Bajro Muric
Bajro Muric

Bajro is a big car enthusiast with a love for writing and teaching. He writes about anything regarding cars - from common problems and fixes to racing.