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How Much Does It Cost To Fix Scratches On Car: That Pricey?

by Jordan Harris
Touch Up Paint Factory Pen

As gearheads, we want our vehicles to look their best at all times. So, it can be heartbreaking when the exterior gets a dent or a scratch. Were you looking for an answer to the question “How much does it cost to fix scratches on a car?” Well, I’m happy to say that you have come to the right place.

No matter how careful you are with your vehicle, scratches are things that are unavoidable. Scratches can easily happen in day-to-day use and have a negative effect on the resale value of the vehicle.

Scratches come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from minor ones that can be fixed at home all the way to deeper grooves that should be taken care of by professionals. Unsurprisingly, the size and type of scratch have an effect on the repair cost.

In this article, we will break down the cost of repairing car scratches. Not only that, we’ll give you some tips on how to avoid them as well. Before all of that, we will tell you about some of the common causes of car scratches.

What Causes Scratches On A Car

Several factors can cause scratches to form on the exterior paint of your vehicle. It is important that you know about these causes before looking at how much does it cost to fix scratches on a car. Some of the most common causes of car scratches include,

  • Accidents
  • Rocks, Chips, And Other Debris
  • Automatic Car Washes
  • Washing The Car Improperly
  • Accidental Rubbing

What Causes Scratches On A Car #1 – Accidents

The deepest and worst scratches on car paint are caused by accidents. As you might have guessed, these are the hardest to remove. The most significant scratches will be in areas where the vehicle impacted external objects like other vehicles or road barriers.

The severity of the accident will determine the scratch-repairing method that should be used. These can range from light paint touch-ups all the way to body panel replacements. As a result, scratches caused by accidents cost the most to repair.

What Causes Scratches On A Car #2 – Rocks, Chips, And Other Debris

If you often drive on rough terrain, then your paint can easily get scratched by road debris. Additionally, areas with ongoing construction work also pose the threat of scratching the vehicle’s exterior.

how much does it cost to fix scratches on car

These areas often have rocks, pebbles, and stone chips lying around. When a vehicle drives over them, this road debris gets stuck in the treads of the tire.

Then, they are hurled up, impacting the body panels of the vehicle. Because these rocks impact the body panels at high speed, they cause deep grooves that are difficult to fix.

What Causes Scratches On A Car #3 – Automatic Car Washes

This entry might surprise a lot of people. However, taking your vehicle through an automatic car wash often causes more harm than good. You see, these machines are designed to wash hundreds of vehicles in a single day.

As a result, the dirt and grime from all these vehicles get attached to the brushes which are used to wash your vehicle. Moreover, the brushes of an automatic car wash are not cleaned regularly.

So, once these brushes come into contact with your car, all those dirt and grime wreak havoc on the paint. Automatic car washes cause all types of scratches, from minor ones to significant cuts.

What Causes Scratches On A Car #4 – Washing The Car Improperly


Improperly handwashing your car can cause paint damage equal to the amount that is caused by an automatic car wash. Using the wrong cleaning materials as well as washing the car using incorrect cleaning procedures can all scratch up your vehicle’s beautiful paint job. If you spot swirl marks on the paint, improper washing is the thing to blame.

What Causes Scratches On A Car #5 – Accidental Rubbing

Tree branches, hedges, and twigs can rub against your vehicle, leading to the formation of scratches. Luckily, most of these scratches can be easily removed as they only affect the vehicle’s clear coat.

Car Scratch Remover

One of the best and easiest ways of fixing minor scratches on a car is by using a scratch remover. You can apply the scratch remover on top of an existing scratch, which will make it blend into the paint so that it becomes less noticeable.

There are a vast amount of scratch removers out on the market, and they are made from various substances. However, no matter which scratch remover you use, you are bound to get a number of benefits. Some of the most significant benefits of car scratch removers are,

1. Polishing The Paint

Paint scratch removers contain elements that can repolish the external surfaces of the vehicle. These elements can remove paint dullness caused by oxidation, giving the vehicle a glossy appearance.

2. Removing Light Scratches

The main and most obvious benefit of scratch remover is eliminating light scratches from the paint surface. Typically, it only takes a few minutes for a scratch remover to make a blemish disappear.

3. Removing Swirl Marks

As we previously mentioned, improperly washing your vehicle leads to the formation of swirl marks on the top layer of paint. However, removing swirl marks is an easy task for most paint cleaners.

4. Getting Rid Of Water Spots

Water spots form on the paint when rainwater mixes with dirt (which is why you need to figure out how to get water spots off car). The multipurpose nature of paint scratch remover makes them perfect for wiping off these water spots.

5. Ease Of Use

Scratch removers are some of the most user-friendly repair equipment out on the market today. All you have to do is to apply the material onto the scratched area. Then, you should gently rub it with the use of a buffer pad until the scratch goes away.

Furthermore, the inexpensive nature of scratch removers makes them easy to afford for many vehicle owners. Not only that but being inexpensive means that you can try out different scratch removers before settling on the one that works for you.

Car Scratch Repair

Other than using a scratch remover, there are some other methods used for car scratch repair as well. Toothpaste is one of the most basic solutions you can use to repair a car scratch. However, this is only suitable for light scratches that have not penetrated the paint deeply.

To remove a scratch with toothpaste, you should first wash and dry off the scratched area. Then, add some toothpaste to a microfiber cloth and apply it onto the surface in a circular motion. Repeat the process until the scratch is removed. Keep in mind to remove the excess before applying more toothpaste.

However, if a scratch has gone deep into the paint, the best way to remove them is with paint. We recommend taking your vehicle to a professional paint shop for this repair. The cost to fix scratches depends on the type and location of it.

how much does it cost to fix scratches on car

Any home mechanic is capable of removing light scratches. All you need are some DIY car scratch repair products. The average cost of fixing a light scratch is between $150 – $300.

Removing a deep scratch is a complex process that includes several steps. Often, the base coat and clear coats have to be resprayed to restore the paint back to its original condition. A professional paint shop will charge you between $1500 and $2500 for a paint respray. However, if you decide to do all the work yourself, it would only cost you around $600.

Types Of Car Scratches

As a car enthusiast, you may fall victim to a variety of scratches during the course of owning a vehicle. A few of the most common types of scratches are,

  • Clear Coat Scratch
  • Base Coat Scratch
  • Primer Scratch
  • Trim Scratch
  • Glass Scratch
  • Curb Rash

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Scratches On Car #1 – Clear Coat Scratch

When you spot a scratch on your vehicle, the chances of it being on the clear coat are highly likely. Although these are the most common types of scratches, they are also the easiest to fix. This is due to clear coat scratches only affecting the outer protective layer.

You don’t need any tools to identify a clear coat scratch. In fact, all you need is your fingernail. Simply run your fingernail over the scratch, and if you can’t feel it, it is a clear coat scratch.

Debris from the road is the most common cause of clear coat scratches. However, other factors like hail, sleet, and even kids bumping into your vehicle can all cause your vehicle to get clear coat scratches.

Repairing a clear coat scratch on a car is pretty easy. Re-applying another clear coat layer on top of the scratched area is all you have to do. You can fix a clear coat scratch at home for around $15 – $20. However, if you are willing to take your vehicle to a professional repair shop, prepare to spend around $100 to $300.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Scratches On Car #2 – Base Coat Scratch

Base coat scratches affect the actual paint of the vehicle without completely going through it. Although base coat scratches are not that complex to fix, you need the correct equipment to get the job done properly.

You can use the same fingernail method to identify base coat scratches as well. In this case, you will be able to feel the scratch with your fingernail. If your vehicle already has a clear coat scratch, repeated impacts on the same area will cause it to spread into the base coat.

So, how much does it cost to fix base coat scratches on a car? Well, if you do the repair yourself, the cost will be around $20 to $70. But, a professional repair will cost around $500. Polishing products give good results when it comes to fixing base coat scratches. However, we recommend using some touch-up paint for the best results.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Scratches On Car #3 – Primer Scratch

The deepest scratches a vehicle can get are called primer scratches. These expose the metal underneath the paint to the outside and should be repaired quickly before that cause any major damage.

Primer scratches are the most expensive type to repair. If you spot any exposed metal areas on the paint, that’s the sign of a primer scratch.

Older vehicles are the most likely ones to get primer scratches. Additionally, accidents are the other likely cause of primer scratches.

Fixing primer scratches are a complex job, and we recommend taking your vehicle to an auto body shop to get the repair done. However, as we mentioned, primer scratches are not cheap to fix. Expect to pay about $1500 for a complete primer scratch repair.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Scratches On Car #4 – Trim Scratch

Most vehicles come with plastic trim panels placed around different parts of the exterior. These serve a number of purposes, like protecting the paint as well as improving the vehicle’s appearance. Plastic is not a hard material, and as a result, these trim pieces can easily get scratched.

Most trim scratches can be fixed using toothpaste or by polishing. Still, these methods only work on minor trim scratches. If the scratch has gone deep into the material, the best course of action is to replace the trim panel as a whole. Depending on the type of vehicle, the cost of fixing a trim repair can be anywhere between $5 and $20.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Scratches On Car #5 – Glass Scratch

A significant portion of modern vehicles is covered by glass panels. If you live in an area with dusty or sandy roads, the chances of getting a glass scratch are very high. Additionally, damaged or old windshield wipers are another common cause of windshield scratches.

Minor glass scratches can be buffed out using a polishing compound, at a cost of around $50. However, deeper scratches may end up requiring entire glass panels to be replaced. If this is the case, the repair bill can fall anywhere between $200 and $500.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Scratches On Car #6 – Curb Rash

Wheel scratches are commonly referred to as curb rash, and can easily happen if you mistakenly pull up too close to a curb. This will cause the wheels to rub against the curb, leaving a horrible scratch behind.

On rare occasions, rocks and other road debris can scratch up your wheels as well. The best way of fixing a curb rash is sanding down the wheel and repainting or powder coating it.


However, fixing a wheel scratch this way is both labor-intensive as well as expensive. Minor wheel scratches can be fixed for about $50, while bigger scratches can cost upwards of $400 to fix properly.

Scuff VS Scratch Car

When your vehicle gets into an accident or is impacted by some debris, it can be difficult to determine whether the resulting damage is a scuff or a scratch. Scuffs and scratches are not the same, but both of them can happen at once.

A scratch happens when an impact penetrates the clear coat and the paint layers beneath it. On the other hand, scuffs are mostly surface damage. Scuffs are often the result of residual paint from what impacted the vehicle.

Unlike scratches, scuffs are easy to get rid of. Most scuffs can be easily buffed out without the use of any other materials or compounds.

Now that you know the answer to “how much does it cost to fix scratches on car?”,  let’s take a look at how to prevent scratches in the first place. As the old saying goes, prevention is always better than cure!

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Scratches On Car: Prevention Tips

Cars are a prized possession for most people, so protecting them from scratches should be a top priority for all vehicle owners. Although scratches are relatively cheap to fix, avoiding them at all costs will keep the repair bills from slowly adding up. Here are some ways of protecting your vehicle from scratches.

How To Prevent Scratches #1 – Practicing Parallel Parking

Parallel parking is a challenging task, especially for new drivers. Most drivers hit obstacles when they are parallel parking, damaging their vehicles in the process.

Not only does practicing parallel parking improve your abilities as a driver, but it also helps you to avoid parking next to other vehicles. This greatly reduces the risk of getting your vehicle scratched.

How To Prevent Scratches #2 – Avoiding Extreme Weather

Leaving your vehicle outside during extreme weather conditions is just waiting for disaster. Hail storms as well as branches and dirt kicked up by windstorms can all do significant damage to a vehicle. So, it is important that you park your vehicle in a safe place during adverse weather conditions.

How To Prevent Scratches #3 – Parking The Vehicle In A Garage

This ties into the previous point we mentioned. A garage protects your vehicle from getting damaged by external elements. So, parking the vehicle in a garage is one of the best ways of protecting it from scratches.

How To Prevent Scratches #4 – Keeping Things Off The Vehicle

Believe it or not, the vehicle owner is another common source of paint scratches. Placing personal belongings like tools and keys on top of the paint can make scratches appear on it.

How To Prevent Scratches #5 – Taking Care When Parking

Parking lots are where most vehicles get dented or scratched. No matter if you bump into another car or hit a shopping cart, the likelihood of getting a scratch in a parking lot is extremely high. So, it is important that you always take care when leaving your vehicle in one of these parking areas.

As you can see, there are many preventive measures you can take to protect your vehicle from getting scratched. Keeps these factors in mind the next time you go out for a drive.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Scratches On Car: In Conclusion…

It is safe to say that scratches are the most common type of damage that happens to cars. There are several types of scratches and the cost of fixing them varies according to both their size and nature. For example, a clear coat scratch is much cheaper to fix than a primer scratch.

However, we recommend trying to avoid scratches as much as possible, because they can significantly reduce the resale value of your vehicle.

FAQs On How Much Does It Cost To Fix Scratches On Car

How Much To Paint A Car

The cost of painting a car depends on the type of service you get. A basic paint job is the most inexpensive option, and the cost of it ranges from $300 to $1000. The next tier is the standard paint service, which costs around $1000 to $4500. Showroom quality paint jobs are the most expensive option, often costing more than $5000.

How To Remove Scratches From Car

The method of scratch removal depends on the type of scratch you have, Clear coat and base coat scratches can often be fixed using a car scratch remover, while primer scratches require a complete respray.

How To Fix Scratches On Car

There are several ways of fixing scratches on a car. You can use a dedicated car scratch remover, or even toothpaste to fix scratches.

How To Buff Out Scratches On Car

Buffing is an effective way of removing scratches from a car’s paint. However, buffing is only effective for light scratches on the clear coat that cannot be detected with your fingernail. A professional paint shop will charge around $150 to buff out a surface scratch.

How To Fix Deep Scratches On Car

Deep scratches are harder and more labor-intensive to fix than light scratches. The best way to fix deep scratches is by repainting the affected area with matching paint. For the best results, we recommend taking your vehicle to an auto body repair shop in order to get a deep scratch fixed.

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