Imagine buying a new car and coming to find a scratch just the next day. Catastrophic, right?
What’s even worse is when you don’t know the reason for it. So, you end up racking your brain, trying to figure out where you got the scratch from.
They are, after all, easy to get and try as one may remove them; there are always some traces left behind.
In fact, you might not even know what kind of scratches they are, but you’d want them removed at the soonest. They make the car appear ugly, and if not treated soon, can further damage the paint and even lead to rusting of the body.
While some scratches get fixed easily, others can require extensive removal effort. It is therefore vital to distinguish the nature of the scratch.
And to be able to do that, one has to have a better understanding of the various layers that make up your vehicle’s exterior.
So, if you don’t want to end up paying hefty bills to your mechanic time and again, the best thing is to prevent problems from happening. That’s why having knowledge about the different types of car scratches becomes all the more important for you.
Paint Layers of a Car
So, before describing the nature of scratches and their removal, it’s only fair to talk about the aforementioned layers.
At the bottom is the bare metal body. This comes in two variants.
Used most often in mass-produced vehicles is stamped steel. Other than that, ones found in premium cars often use bodies made of aluminum.
Steel is reactive with oxygen and rusts immediately. It causes the surface to turn reddish, which in turn peels off and cracks easily.
Aluminum also gets surface oxidation but not as severely as in the case of steel.
The primer is the next layer and provides the first coating on top of the metal body. It adheres to the metal body permanently. Primer protects the car from corrosion and more serious damages.
The next layer is the color coat. It’s rather a thin layer whose purpose is to provide cars with a particular color.
The clear coat is the foremost layer of your vehicle. It’s a thick polymer coating that protects every layer underneath. And since it’s the topmost layer, it becomes arguably the most important one requiring maintenance.
The coat protects the vehicle from dirt, dust, rain, and minor dents. Scratches which occur at this layer are easy to rectify.
Different types of Car Scratches
Now that you’re familiar with the many layers of the car, let’s look into the kind of scratches it can get. Depending on the level of penetration, scratches get classified into the Clear Coat, Colour, and Primer level scratch.
The easiest to repair and most commonly found scratches are the clear coat. They don’t penetrate beyond the first layer and don’t extend into the color layer.
That means repairing scratches on this surface doesn’t usually require re-painting. Instead, one can smoothen the scratch surface with minimal technique.
Next is the Colour/Primer level scratch, which involves advanced technique and is better left off to professionals.
This process involves restoring the color that was previously removed by the scratch. And in cases where the color/primer level scratches remain untreated for long, rust becomes a common occurrence. These require the removal before re-painting of the scratch gets done.
– Washing and Drying
Did you know that something as simple and innocuous as washing and drying is the most common cause of car scratches? People don’t realize how fragile car paint is, which is why they end up scratching their vehicles, more or less unintentionally.
Dirt is easily picked up by scrubbers we use, and rubbing it against cars can yield unwanted scratches. Proper washing methods like the Two-Bucket Wash method should be popularized.
Aside from that, using the wrong cleaning materials can also cause damage. This includes the use of random clothes like old t-shirts for scrubbing, as this can damage the paint.
Additionally, using the wrong materials, such as an old t-shirt as a wash rag, will damage your paint immensely by filling it with scratches. Instead, it’s advisable to use microfiber sponges which are specifically designed for such tasks.
And when it comes to drying, people should take caution, too, because trying to dry the car the wrong way can also cause scratches. These scratches induced by drying are swirls.
This happens because drying involves minimal lubrication between the car’s paint and the drying clot. And although these aren’t as severe as the other scratches in this list, removing swirls are time-consuming because there are aplenty.
The safe drying method involves the use of large, microfiber drying towels or air dryers.
– Automatic Car Washes
Car washing can be a hassle sometimes, more so when one hasn’t got the time or energy to do it. Instead, people end up using an automatic car wash.
It’s easy and cheap and requires no manual working. But little do people realize that this is one of the easiest ways for cars to end up with scratches.
Public automatic washers are often utilized day in and out by numerous cars. This makes the brushes used in them susceptible to dirt accumulation over time.
They become filled with dirt and sand. This material, in turn, gives the effect of sandpaper getting rubbed against the car’s paint. Scratches and swirl marks are common results thereafter.
Besides affecting the delicate paint, the material can also break parts of the vehicle, such as windshield wipers. That happens because sometimes, the hard bristle coils around such parts and breaks them apart through force.
And if you thought touch-less car washers were better in this regard, think again.
Sometimes even touch-less washers with their high-pressure water streams can propel dirt and grit into car’s paint. It causes scratches to surface in the process.
– Road Debris
Another common cause of unwanted scratches and chips on cars is road debris. Driving on the road filled with gravel and small stones ought to have an effect on the car’s appearance.
Rock chips occur when stones and pebbles are thrust into the air and sent flying by another car. They can hit other cars plying nearby and cause damage, sometimes even extensive ones.
In cases where the stones are larger than usual, the damages indeed remain extensive. And the worst part about all this is that there’s nothing much one can do to avoid such kind of misfortune.
Coming across road debris is unavoidable. Items like gravels, sticks, discarded garbage, or rubble can cause scratches when in contact with cars, leaving big dings behind.
These kinds of damages are not hard to identify. Usually, they’re distinguished by small, circular dents in bumper or bonnets.
And while such damages are avoidable at times by paying heed to the road, but more often than not are unavoidable.
– Accidental Keying
Rubbing against the car’s skin is another cause of scratches. In this case, the scratches are Clear Coat scratches, meaning they don’t penetrate into the color/primer layer.
Such scratches are the most common kind and can occur in varied ways. Sometimes something seemingly as harmless as opening a door with keys in hand or dragging it across the car’s paint can cause scratches.
At times such scratches tend to appear black or a different color altogether from the car paintwork.
It happens due to the apparent transfer of paint from the object that brushed up against the affected car. Pigments remain behind during this transfer on the coat.
Although these scratches may seem serious, fortunately, they are usually light and localized. They are easily fixed with microfiber towels or scratch removal products.
Next on the list is perhaps the most obvious cause of scratches. Accidents happen when the car’s surface contacts another solid object, such as another car, or brushes against hard objects like posts.
The scratches are more in the form of deep dents concentrated most around the area of impact. Because the impact is severe and the damage extensive, the subsequent repairing must be done by professionals alone.
– Spider Webbings
Spider webbing is the name for those kinds of scratches that are so light that they are imperceptible at times. These are visible perhaps on the surface upon which the sun shines and are in the form of uniform lines.
They are rightly known as spider webbing because they resemble a spider’s web. The interesting thing about these scratches is that they are often caused by a variety of natural reasons.
Acid rains and extended exposure to UV rays leave behind perplexing water stains and cause paintwork to fade.
Regrettably, these are the kind of scratches that are unfixable at home.
One would ideally need the help of professionals to get these damages removed. This means that it would cost you money to get these marks removed.
In order to prevent such scratches from ever taking shape, one can apply a ceramic coating on the car’s surface. This will help by forming a layer of protective covering to hinder scratches and paint transfers.
Many of these wax coatings often contain UV inhibitors which do a good job in preventing oxidation and webbing.
Weather is another factor that plays a major role in causing damage to a car’s appearance. That is particularly true for cold, winter seasons when the roads are rampant with grits.
Rainy seasons and storms bring heavy winds, hail, and rains. Besides flying debris, one has to be mindful of the rain as downpours carry salts that can leave unwanted stains.
It’s important to take necessary precautions, so it’s advisable to keep your car covered and parked in the garage. Interestingly, the sun and its excessive rays can also cause damage by making the car’s paint look worn.
Winter is another unfortunate season in this respect. Trying to brush snow off cars can be both backbreaking and challenging.
It’s cold outside, and chilly winds blow profusely, so it’s understandable if you’d want to get into your car as fast as possible. But rushing the process of cleaning off snow can end up badly.
If not done delicately, you could end up hitting the car with your scraper. Even using gloves to push off snow can cause unavoidable damage, especially if the gloves have metals in them.
Also, it’s advisable to trim down trees and prune bushes around the house. That’s increasingly done in order to prevent the uncontrolled manifestation of birds and bugs.
Bird droppings and dead bugs on the car’s exterior are often hard to remove. That’s because their acidic nature binds them to the paintwork, which in turn makes it easy for it to eat the paint away.
Carrying and using microfiber cloths around all the time is an efficient method. Additionally, one must avoid parking their vehicle near trees, especially during stormy seasons.
It’s advisable to take time while trying to remove snow from parked vehicles. In case the ice is thick, it’s best to wait for a while as it defrosts to make the process easier.
– Parking Lot Snares
Many scratches, surprisingly, are the endowment of the public parking lot. They provide a perfect avenue for cars to get damaged, sometimes deliberately or otherwise.
Because places like shopping arcades have limited spaces, one must pay close attention while parking.
Simultaneously, one must keep close watch over distracted bystanders, especially kids. They may run around playing with the parked cars and cause unintentional damage.
Shopping carts are another major parking lot nuisance. By accident, some shoppers may bump their carts into your vehicle, or you might accidentally ram your vehicle into them. Either way, the effect in both situations is better avoided.
Also, what happens often is that people abandon their carts in the middle of the parking spaces. That might seem harmless at first, and it’s indeed harmless more often than not.
But then again, it’s also possible that winds send them traveling straight into vehicles parked around. That would leave behind unwanted scratches and dents.
Suffice to say. It’s best to remain attentive and avoid parking too close to other vehicles.
– Careless Loading
Most scratches are unintentional. And many of these scratches are a result of our day-to-day usage of our vehicles without being cautious enough at times.
When getting into a car, we tend to use the door as a sort of extra hand, especially while balancing a lot of items simultaneously. Rubbing anything that’s hard to the surface against the door has the prospect of leaving lasting dents.
Similarly, one must be cautious when loading heavy items inside the car. You might end up pushing items hard enough to leave scrapes and scratches.
Of course, it’s almost impossible to guarantee that vehicles won’t get scratched over time.
But the idea is to take proper care and steps so as to avoid fastening the process. The first thing to do in this respect is to understand and be able to distinguish the nature and causes of scratches.
You don’t necessarily have to be an owner of some premium car to educate yourself about the different types of car scratches. Knowing how important a role your vehicle plays in your life, it’s natural to want to care about protecting them from possible damages.
We have extensively covered different types of car scratches in this article. So, go over it and try your best to remember what you can.
You’re good to go, even if you just remember the basics. Having a good idea and understanding of the nuances of scratch-causing activities and situations will help protect your vehicle for the longest.
Some other situations simply require the presence of mind on your part. That includes being aware of the hazards of driving fast on pebble-ridden roads or careless loading of cars.
It’s also fairly common sense to be wary of parking spaces and their endless pitfalls. Keeping these things in mind goes a long way in preventing harm to your car’s exterior. The result of such upkeep is that your car will maintain its new look and efficiency for the longest.