Will your new, gleaming vehicle that is fresh from the showroom floor stay flawless forever? The sad reality is that scratches and dings are not the exception; they are the rule. As a conscientious owner who wants your car or truck to look good and perform well for many years to come, your best bet is to accept the likelihood of eventual damage and figure out how to address it when it does occur.
How Do Scratches and Dings Happen?
Being hyper-vigilant about where you park your car certainly cannot hurt. However, it will not always protect you from those annoying chips in your paint that come when the driver parked next to you inadvertently opens their door and hits the side of your vehicle. Imperfections in your car’s finish can also come from the road itself, even if you restrict yourself to the most pristine of paved urban thoroughfares. That’s because small rocks and gravel can be kicked up under your wheels when you are moving at a high rate of speed, causing those unsightly scratches.,
Don’t Run to Your Insurer
Anyone who has had automobile insurance for any length of time knows just how costly it is – and that is the case even if you have not had an accident. As soon as you make a claim, you will have to first pay a high deductible and then run the risk of your premiums going through the roof. Since dings and scratches are considered to be minor damage, it generally does not make financial sense to contact your insurance agent about this issue.,
What About the Body Shop?
Again, this is minor damage. Body shops are busy places that employ craftsmen who are adept at restoring a vehicle to its former condition after a serious collision or in renovating a classic car. Should you decide to put your superficially marred jalopy into their hands, you might need to be without it unnecessarily for several days. Furthermore, you will pay a very high price, often needlessly. Think of it as paying an orthopedic surgeon to bandage a skinned knee when you could just as easily and more cheaply take care of the injury yourself.,
The good news is that you don’t need professional experience to fix many small surface imperfections. Your roof, fenders, hood, doors and even plastic bumpers can suffer the effects of flying gravel, shopping carts, baseballs, car doors and kicks. With a few simple tools and a willingness to invest some time, you can be the savior of your own vehicle’s appearance.,
Believe it or not, you already have one of the most useful tools close at hand that can minimize the appearance of those ugly dents, and it isn’t in your garage; it’s in your bathroom. We’re talking about the humble toilet plunger. Wet it, apply it to the dent, give it some pressure and see if you can get the dent to pop out. For dings requiring firmer suction, purchase a tool specifically made for that purpose from your local auto parts store.,
Let Extreme Temperatures Do the Work For You
Another way to remove minor dents is by using a different bathroom item, your hair dryer, combined with a can of compressed air that is commonly employed for cleaning computer keyboards. Just heat the damaged area with the dryer for a few minutes, and then spray it with compressed air. The dent should disappear because of the rapid expansion and contraction of the metal caused by the fast changes in temperature. This trick is particularly effective on the flat surfaces of your hood, fender or trunk.,
Repairing Paint Dings
Unfortunately, the little gimmicks we described above will not work if your paint has been damaged even in a minor way. In that case, you should start by employing a scratch repair product such as a touch up paint pen. For small blemishes that do not extend all the way to the bare metal, this type of paint is an excellent solution since it can be matched to the precise color of your vehicle. Companies such as Touch Up Direct offer an exact color matching system that is easy to use and is guaranteed. More extensive damage to an entire section of your vehicle’s bodywork, such as to a panel or an entire part, is best addressed through the use of an aerosol touch up paint spray that is specifically made to cover larger surfaces.,
On the other hand, the touch up pen is particularly effective for minor scratches and the chips that come when small stones make contact with your finish. Before you attempt to apply the touch up paint for your motorcycle, truck or car, apply the paint to the test card that is provided. By doing so, you will get a sense of how quickly the paint flows out of the pen as well as the right amount of pressure that is required to get your desired coat thickness. Resist the urge to “draw” the color over the scratch; dab it instead to avoid inadvertently removing a previous coat of paint.,
There are several steps you should employ in this particular order to effectively use a touch up paint pen:,
- Using a soft cloth and a solution designed for this purpose, de-grease the area.
- Wash with soap and water to remove all residue. Allow the surface to air-dry thoroughly.
- Apply two or three coats of primer. Allow about 15 minutes between coats for drying.
- Apply three to four coats of base. Wait 15 minutes between each coat for drying.
- Apply two to four coats of clear, waiting 15 minutes between each coat for drying.
- After anywhere between 24 and 72 hours of air drying, buff and polish the surface.
Tips for Removing Road Paint
In addition to those minor nicks and scratches, your car’s finish can be discolored due to driving through yellow or white road paint that is still wet. Fortunately, there is an easy way to handle this situation. Use the pressure wash wand at your local car wash on the affected area. As long as you have spotted the paint within 24 hours of driving through it, the powerful spray of water should remove most of the unwanted pigment.,
If the paint has been on for longer than 24 hours or not all of it is taken off at the car wash, spray Wd-40 on the area. Allow it to remain there for two or three hours. This will soften the paint and make it much easier to take off. For extremely difficult situations, apply a generous coating of petroleum jelly over the paint, let it sit for eight hours and revisit the car wash for another session with the pressure wash wand.,
Getting Rid of Buildup From the Environment
Since you are operating your car, truck or motorcycle in the outdoors, it stands to reason that it will be affected over time by the elements. Tree sap, dead insects, bird droppings and the juice from berries can do a nasty number on your finish. Combine with these some human-made factors such as tape and bumper sticker residue, and you can have a dingy mess on your hands over time. Instead of using aggressive tactics such as rough scraping to get rid of these unsightly stains and marks, your best bet is to obtain a cleaning solution designed specifically for this purpose. Ask your local auto parts store to recommend a product, or consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual.,
The only way to avoid blemishes to your vehicle’s finish is to keep it locked in your garage without ever taking it out on the road. If you are intent on actually using your vehicle to get from one place to another, it simply will not retain its initial showroom luster. The good news is that the inevitable damage that occurs is often not permanent, and repairing it does not need to break your budget. Of course, major issues may require professional attention, and you might actually need to file a claim with your auto insurance company in certain, extreme cases. However, insignificant but noticeable damage is fixable, and it’s something you can do yourself with very little effort or investment. Since you spend a great deal of time in your vehicle and want it to look good, you have nothing to lose. Why not take matters into your own hands today?,