Picture this: You’ve just parked your car at a local shopping mall, minding your own business, and you walk away to do whatever it is you’ve come to do.
Coming out of the mall you approach your car and hit the unlock button and as you come up to the driver’s door you notice it — a huge scratch/scrape that looks like it’s as big as the stream near your house.
Okay, so that’s an exaggeration, but, it’s still big enough for you to notice. Most other folks would probably just walk by and not even see it, however, something makes it even more noticeable — your car is white and the scrape is bright red.
You do have some options available. You can:
- Live with it, noticing it every time you get in and out; eventually you will get used to it
- Take it to your local dealer’s body shop for an estimate and hope your insurance will cover it (it will likely not hit the deductible limit, but it will be expensive, nonetheless)
- Go to a local body shop to see what they can do; they might be able to wet sand it out for you, but then you will have to pay for a full wax and sealant job, not exactly the least expensive option in the world, either
- Fix it yourself
To some people the words “fix it yourself” are fighting words. They present just the right amount of challenge to a car owner to make sure the job is done right.
So, what do you do to make sure the job is done correctly? It’s really amazingly simple, provided you make sure that you:
- Take your time
- Use the right tools
- Use the right conditions
Using the proper procedure is the key to making sure that your car’s body problem is fixed correctly. In fact, you may be able to solve things with your first few steps. Those steps should include:
- A good rinse with a high-speed hose
- A good cleaning with a car cleaning detergent and soft sponge
- A good rinse
- A good shammy dry (short for chamoise)
Now we’re ready to attack the problem itself. You may have found during the washing process that most of the paint that was left on the scrape may have been cleaned away. A good rub may clear it all up.
If the scrape is shallow and isn’t down to the bare metal, you may find that one of the scrape restorers that bring back the paint to the original color will work wonders and you will be able to quickly clean up the scrape and then all you will have to do is paste wax the area and seal it.
Let’s say, though, that the scrape is down to the bare metal and that you want to fix it properly, then take the following steps:
- Take a block of wood and a light grit sandpaper and sand the area around the scrape down to the bare metal
- Take some body fill material such as Bondo and fill in any deep scrapes
- Let the fill dry and resand the area
- Take some 00 steelwool and clean up any metal areas as well as filled areas so that paint will adhere better
- Mask off the area around the scratch or scape with a painter’s masking tape, taking care to make sure that you cover only those areas where you have not done any work
- Wait for a calm, warmish day or do this inside and prime the area you have masked with the proper color primer paint
- Either using a heat gun or lamp, dry the area and make sure that it does not feel tacky or look as if dust is on the surface
- Spray the primed area with the body color paint and then repeat the process to make sure that the paint not only adheres but looks good
- Dry the area with a heat gun or heater and when you are sure everything is in good shape, remove the masking tape
- Using a good paste wax, cover the repaired area and then seal it with a silicon sealant.
You see, it’s not easy to maintain the body of your car. All it takes is some work and you’re done.