Understanding Different Types Of Car Scratches

Real car enthusiasts do not want to see scratches on their cars. It makes your baby ride looks dull and less taken care of. But unfortunately, scratches appear on all cars – it’s just a matter of time.

Luckily, you can fix the scratches and have that factory aesthetic and magnificent exterior look. But before we discuss car scratches repair, you need to know the types of scratches. There are more than two types of car scratches, each of which has a different approach to fixing them.

Rx Mechanic expert teams draft this simplified guide to walk you through how to fix these scratches. So sit back and have a five minutes read.

deep scratch on car

Different Types of Car Scratches

There are different types of scratches that you can have. And identifying them will help you know the types of scratches that can be buffed out and how to fix each one you have on your car. So here are the common types of scratches you can have on your baby ride.

Clear coat scratch

Cars have a thin clear coating that prevents the car paints from minor scratches from environmental issues like dust, acid rain, and direct exposure to sunlight. Clear coat scratches do not scratch the car paints. They only affect the outermost layer. They are very easy to fix and inexpensive tasks.

Base coat or paint scratch

Another car scratch is paint scratch, also referred to as base scratch. Paint scratch affects the car paints. But the effect is not that serious. They are still easy to fix with the proper guides and appropriate kits. However, this requires a specific set of kits.

Primer scratch

Primer scratches are deeper than a clear coat and base scratch. If your car scratch down to the metal, you have a primer scratch. Technically, Primer scratches are the deepest scratch you can have on a car. And they can escalate to more severe issues if you ignore them for an extended period.

If you ask, do car scratches rust? A straightforward answer is it depends on the type of scratch. For instance, a clear coat scratch will not lead to rust. Conversely, primer scratch will cause rusting and other issues if you fail to fix it on time. It can be expensive for an auto repair shop to fix it.

Wheel scratch

Some car scratches do not happen on the car body. A typical example is the scratches on the wheels. This type of scratch is also known as curb rash. This occurs when a driver pulls too close to a curb and mistakenly rubs it.

Rubbing against a curb can either scuff or scratch your car. If you’re wondering about scuff vs. scratch, they are not the same. Though, the difference is just the deepness. Scratch is more profound than a scuff.

Glass Scratch

Glass scratch is like the regular scratch on the car sprayed areas, but it only happens on the windows or windshield. Glass scratches are common, especially on the windshield. They mainly occur when a loose rock falls on the glass, but it is not hard enough to crack it.

Read Also: How to Remove Spray Paint from a Car

car scratch repair cost

Causes of Car Scratches

Several factors, like an automatic car wash, malicious behavior, and kicked-up rocks, can scratch a car. When you see scratches on your vehicle, you’ll want to take the car to a repair shop specializing in body repair and spraying. These are the most common causes of different types of car scratches.

Improper waxing/washing

If you have a new car or you recently sprayed your car, mind the types of clothes you use when washing or ragging the vehicle. If the cloth is abrasive, it will cause scratches on the car. Instead, get a synthetic microfibre car wash towel.

Secondly, do not wash with any washing soap. Instead, get a car washing soap. Lastly, before you wax, ensure there is no dirt or debris on the surface.

Automatic car washing

The brushes on an automatic car washing machine can retain dirt from the previous vehicle. And if the car wash attendant did not rinse the brush very well before using it on your car, it may scratch your vehicle.


If you wear a studded belt or have buttons on your shirt, you can scratch your car by leaning on it. Leaning on the vehicle may not scratch it, though, but you can mistakenly shift your weight.


A vehicle in front of you may have kicked up a rock coming in your way. This happens mostly when driving behind trailers with chipping stones. While you can’t prevent it from happening, you can minimize the chances by not moving close to trailers with gravel.

Bird dropping and dead bugs

Seeing bird droppings on a car can be unnerving and frustrating. If you don’t clean them on time, the acidity in their excrement can fuse with the paint. This can cause scratches on the car paint when removing them. You’ll notice this a lot if you park under trees.

Dead bugs can also cause similar issues. So, ensure you always keep your car clean.

Bad parking habits

Opening doors into bollards, parking too close to walls, and scrapping bumpers on pavements are all mistakes. But, most times, these are not mistakes but bad parking habits. For example, drivers scrape bumpers because they’re unaware of their surroundings. You can avoid these by checking your surroundings and using your side mirrors.

Low hanging trees and Hedges

If you drive in a country lane, something or another driver may prompt you to drive closer to hanging bushes, which will lead to scrapping bushes or low-hanging branches.

If you drive on the same route regularly, these low-hanging branches and bushes will grate away the paintwork on your vehicle. This will cost white scratches on the car or clear coat scratches.

Always find an alternative route. However, if you can’t find one, always drive in the middle of the road and avoid going close to those bushes and hanging trees. Regular buffing will also clear those tiny marks on the paintwork.

Your car keys

One of the common causes of scratches around the car keyhole is your car key. Occasionally, most drivers scrape their keys on the paintwork near the keyhole, creating minor scratches around the holes.

Whether your hand is full of other stuff or there’s no bright light, you will occasionally misjudge the keyholes and scratch the clear coating. To minimize this occasional misjudgment, we recommend you reduce your keyring and add a torchlight to the keyring.

Car vandalism

Car vandalism is an annoying, frustrating, and upsetting way of damaging someone’s car. It is quite unnerving because someone did it on purpose. Most times, not knowing why and who did it is troubling.

Whether it is because someone didn’t like where or how you parked, your neighbor who wants to wicked you, or a random fellow causing trouble, it is at your consternation and expense.

Here are the types of car vandalism

  • Tire slashing
  • Smashed side mirror
  • Damaged car rims or bodywork
  • Graffiti
  • Being scratched by a sharp object

Depending on the severity, you can fix the vandalism yourself or call an experienced service technician.


You and I know that children are careless of other people’s property. For example, your lovely kids or even total strangers can scratch your cars by slamming the doors too hard, leaning on the paintwork with their school bags, hitting parked cars with their scooters or bikes, or brushing a vehicle with a stick, or even drawing or writing on the car.

It may be hard to avoid this because children often seem to be magnets to parked cars. However, you can minimize the chances by parking your vehicle in a garage. And lastly, avoid parking on the road. In any case, know that all these little stuff are bound to happen.

Other drivers

You cannot list the causes of car scratches without mentioning other drivers. Other drivers cause the most number of car scratches. This happens mostly in parking slots when people do not pay close attention to the environment by opening doors without watching or driving into another car.

Read Also: Fender vs. Bumper: What are the Differences?

How To Fix Car Scratches

If you love fixing things on your car, you may want to fix a light or slightly deep scratches on your vehicle. This simplified guide will walk you through fixing the scratches on your car. While these steps are effective, they may not work on deep scratches.

So, it is essential to determine the type of car scratch you have before trying this at home.

Use a scratch repair kit.

If the scratches on your car are not too deep, then a scratch repair kit will do an excellent job. The scratch repair kit is available in many auto shops.

This convenient scratch solution has everything you need to fix the light to slightly deep scratches, including buffers, touch-up paints, removal paste, and polish.

Clean the scratched areas

The first step is to clean the scratched areas. A clean rag, water, and car washing soap will do an excellent job. This will help you get rid of the remaining dirt or debris on the scratched areas so you won’t mistakenly rub it into your polish or paint.

Apply scratch remover

Once the scratched surface is clean, grab the scratch remover from your repair kit. Apply it on a clean synthetic microfibre towel or buffing pads.

Note: applying the scratch remover paste directly to the scratches will damage the paints.

Remove the scratches with the buffing pads.

Remove the scratches using the synthetic microfibre towel or buffing pads. The scratch remover paste works by removing a slight coating of the clear coat to make the scratched surface smooth. Some scratch remover paste works by smoothing the edges of the scratched areas.

Don’t worry. It won’t affect your car paint. Gently scrub the buffing pads over the scratched areas. It’ll take some time before you start seeing the magic.

Clear off any extra paste

Once you finished buffing the scratched areas, clear off any extra polish on the surface. This will help you maintain a factory aesthetic feel.

How much does it cost to fix Car Scratches?

We have seen types of car scratches and how to fix them, so how much does it cost? Car scratch repair cost depends on the severity of the scratch. The deeper the scratch, the more time and materials it takes to fix. However, an average scuff or clear coat scratch will cost around $150, but a severe scratch can cost about $2,500. This is an average estimation. It can be lower or higher than this.

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Q: What type of scratches can be buffed out?

When your car is scratched, you’ll likely look for the easiest and cheapest way to remove the scratches. Of course, buffing out scratches is the easiest way to remove scratches. But what scratches can be buffed out?

It depends on the impact of the scratch. Clear coat scratch is the easiest to buff out. This type of scratch will require a DIY-friendly job to polish. And base coat scratch will need more than little buffing to fix it.

Q: How do you tell if it’s a deep scratch on my car?

The easiest and simplest way of checking the depth of a scratch on a car is to place your fingernail on the vehicle and slowly drag it over the scratched area. When you move your fingernail over the scratch, you’ll feel as if it is a deep scratch or not.

It is a clear coat scratch if you do not feel the impact on your fingernail. You can fix this type of scratch without consulting a service technician.

Q: Are micro-scratches normal on a car?

Some micro scratches are normal and unavoidable if you frequently use your car. You’ll only avoid all micro scratches only when the vehicle is still in the showroom. Micro scratches are also known as swirl marks. They do not go beyond the clear coating; you can remove them by polishing or buffing the car.

Q: Is it worth fixing scratches on a car?

It is worth every penny to fix scratches on your car. If you ignore a small scratch on your vehicle and continue driving with it, it’ll potentially expand to more extensive scratches. The car paint serves as protective coatings for the car frame. And scratches act as a weak point for the car paints to start peeling off.

So, ignoring scratches for an extended period will eventually escalate and cause rusting on the car frames.

Q: What is considered a deep paint scratch?

To know how deep a paint scratch is, place your fingernail on the paint and run it over the scratched areas. If it feels ridged or as if it’s grabbing your nail, you have a deep paint scratch. This type of scratch may be difficult to fix with a DIY scratch remover kit.

Q: What does a new scratch on a car look like?

To know if you have a new or old paint scratch, place your fingers on the car and slowly run them across the scratched areas. A new scratch will have a perfect linear shape with a sharp feel. On the flip side, an old scratch will have a burnt and rough feel because it has accumulated dirt over time.

Q: What is the difference between a scuff and a scratch?

When you hit something or someone hit your car, you need to find out if it is a scuff or scratch. These terms are different, but they happen at the same time. 

A scuff, also known as paint transfer, is a superficial bump that stays on the top layer of a vehicle’s paint and can be easily buffed off. They are primarily residual particles left from whatever you run into. A scratch is more profound and sometimes goes beyond the outer coating layer. Scratches can be light, moderate, or even severe.

Final words

In summary, regardless of the types of car paint scratches you have, always fix them on time. If you ignore even the slightest car scratch and continue driving the car for an extended period, it will expand to more extensive scratches. From there, it’ll escalate and start peeling off the car paint and expose the car to rust.

Of course, you won’t want this to happen to your baby ride. That’s why we have outlined the types of car scratches and how to fix minor scratches. However, if you have a deep scratch, take the car to an experienced service technician to resolve the issue. Getting a scratch remover polish for deep or primer scratches will be a waste of time.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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