How to Handle a Deep Key Scratch

Cars get damaged for a variety of reasons, such as stray grocery carts and errant keys. When a deep key scratch is left untreated, it can cause long-term damage from rust and environmental exposure. Therefore, it’s important to fix it as fast as possible. While it’s easy to pay someone to do it, many scratches can be handled with DIY methods. Below are a few tips on fixing scratches right in the driveway.

Assess the Damage

Before the problem can be solved, the damage must be assessed. Carefully examine the scratch, using a hand to determine its depth. If a scratch can’t be felt, it hasn’t gone through the clearcoat; if it can be felt, it likely hasn’t gone through the base coat. In cases where bare metal is visible, the scratch may be harder to fix.

Try These Tips

Unless the paint scratch is significantly wide or long, or there’s a great deal of base coat missing, it can be fixed with DIY methods. Follow these tips to do the job right.

  • If a scratch hasn’t gone through the clearcoat, use a slightly abrasive rubbing compound and a clean microfiber cloth to make the scratch disappear. Follow up with a bit of car polish.

  • If the scratch is through the clearcoat, use the rubbing compound and an orbital polisher, moving it in circles over the scratched area. When the scratch is gone, use polish.

  • Deep scratches require more effort. Begin by lightly sanding the area with ultra fine grit sandpaper. Use soapy water and light strokes at varying angles, continuing until the scratch disappears. Match the paint at the auto parts store, or find the paint code on a sticker inside the door frame. Apply paint with a fine-tipped brush, building it up higher than the car’s surface. Allow it to dry for an hour, sand it with 800 grit sandpaper, and use the method again as needed.

Know When to Ask for Help

While most scratches are repairable with the methods and tips listed here, some are too deep and wide for DIY treatments. If a driver is in doubt as to their ability to fix a scratch, they should seek professional advice.