To repair a scratch on your car the professional auto body repair techs will go through the following step-by-step process.
You can also watch along in this ‘how to’ video.
- The vehicle should be prepped by sectioning off the area of the car where the scratch is located. For best results, a large enough area should be included in the repair surface to ensure a smooth finish. Our technicians clean the vehicle thoroughly and use masking tape to section off the entire panel that needs paint repairs. To protect other body panels and components that aren’t part of the repair, the tech will use a thicker electrical tape or duct tape.
- Then, the paint technician will sand the area down to the body of the car using an abrasive, 220-grit sanding disk. Working in lines that run evenly along the body panel and careful back-and-forth motions, the technician will remove both the clear coat and base coat where the scratch is located. The goal is to remove the scratched paint and make an even surface for the paint repair.
- Next, the technician will switch to a finer sanding disk, usually a 320-grit disk, in order to remove the smooth out the sanded area. We don’t want to leave a step between the repair spot and the pre-existing paint job. So, that often means that the technician will need to sand all the way to the edge of the body panel.
- Then, the auto body technician will use a flexible abrasive cloth or sanding sponge, like a ScotchBrite Pad, to prep the entire car body panel for painting. Here the objective is to roughen up the clear coat on the panel to ensure a smooth, solid adhesion for the new paint without creating further scratches or damage. The technician does the sanding by hand where the body grooves would be difficult for a sander then uses a very fine sanding disk, like a P600 with a fresh cushion disk, to lightly power over the flat areas of the body panel. Again, this job is done in long strokes and a back-and-forth motion along the lines of the car body.
- After that, the tech will usually switch to an even finer sanding disk and lightly go over the entire panel again. Touching the panel helps to understand if there are any rough or uneven spots that need more sanding.
- Once the sanding is finished, the tape can be removed from around the edges of the panel that’s going to be repainted.
- Next, the technician will clear the dust from the surface of the car, first using a compressor and then washing it down with water and micro-fiber cloth. Then, drying it thoroughly.
- At this point, we want to give the border between the patch area and the rest of the panel one more pass with the 320-grit sanding disk.
- Then, the dusting, washing, and drying process will need to be repeated. This time, the auto body tech will dry down the surface using a microfiber cloth and an air compressor to clear any dust remnants from the car’s surface.
- Now, comes the painting prep. Using clean masking tape, the technician sections off the patch area within the panel that is being repainted. A nylon tarp is used to cover the rest of the vehicle and hole is carefully cut around the patch area. Then, this is taped in place as well.
- Then, the technician will cover the repaired scratch with a primer coat and use an infrared paint curing lamp. The heat from the infrared light significantly reduces the amount of time required for air-drying and reduces the risk of airborne dust and particles ruining the smooth finish. It also ensures better adhesion of the paint layers and a high gloss finish.
- Next, the technician will cut the nylon tarp and remove the masking tape around the patch. And panel will be prepped for some light sanding.
- Using a fine sanding tool, the technician will buff the paint patch to prepare it for solid adhesion of the next coat. Using increasingly finer sanding disks, the technician carefully sands in steps outward from the patch.
- Then, the dusting, washing, and drying process is repeated again. And the entire panel area is prepped for painting with tape around the panel section and nylon over the rest of the car.
- At this point, the panel is ready to be painted with a base coat and top coat and cured completely!
Related article: Why High-Quality Auto Body Paint Matters.