Returning your car’s paintwork to tip-top might be easier and less expensive than you think. What a car looks like can be blighted by pockmarked paint, unsightly scratches and displeasing dents. However, canny drivers can put all these right with just a little bit of elbow grease. Read on to find how you can return your car’s paintwork to showroom fresh.
Have a look at the paintwork on one of your car’s flat surfaces in sunlight and you may well see a craze of miniscule scratches. These are usually caused by tiny bits of grit that become attached to the car while we’re driving. When the car is washed, these get trapped in sponges, on polishing clothes or carwash rollers. They are then rubbed over the car’s bodywork and cause a series of tiny scratches that you can’t feel but nonetheless take the sheen off paintwork in bright light.
Small scratches: the remedy
The reason you can see these swirling scratches is cars have several layers of paint. These are then topped off with what’s known as a clear coat, effectively a see-through varnish. It’s this that gets damaged. There are various products that are designed to get rid of these scratches in the clear coat. In its annual product test, Auto Express recommended Meguiars Ultimate Compound as the best way to eradicate small scratches from a car’s paintwork.
These might be caused by someone’s car door, perhaps a supermarket trolley or maybe someone maliciously ‘keying’ your car. If it’s small and you’re not that fussy, you may be able to do the job yourself. Many dealers will sell touch-up kits for your colour of paint. Alternatively, you can buy these online. You’ll find the paint code on a plaque on the car’s door pillar or under its bonnet.
Deeper scratches: the remedy
Over time, your car’s paintwork will have faded. This will mean any new paint stands out under close scrutiny so a touch-up may not be the answer to your prayers. However, many drivers do find touch-up kits sufficient for covering very minor damage. There are manufacturer-specific sets available from retailers such as Halfords costing around £11.99. If you decide to go down this route, follow the instructions closely and ensure the area around the damage is scrupulously cleaned.
Bigger scratches or dents
If you’re a keen domestic DIY-er, you may imagine car bodywork repairs to be relatively straightforward. Think again. It’s actually very easy to do more harm than good to your car when attempting to repair seriously damaged paintwork. And the last thing you want are parts of your car’s bodywork looking like someone’s attacked them with a paint brush, blindfolded in the dark.
Bigger scratches or dents: the remedy
You no longer have to send your car to a professional bodyshop to get a high-quality repair. A whole industry has grown up around so-called SMART repairs. This Small and Medium Area Repair Technology uses specialist tools, techniques and materials that are guaranteed to give a professional finish. Technicians usually travel to where you are and they can work outdoors; many even carry a special portable shelter to cover them while they work. Repairs to a single panel usually cost around £150. That might sound a bit steep. But it’s a lot cheaper than a garage will charge for putting a car into a paint booth.