How to Repair Deep Scratches and Chips in Car Paint (if the Primer is exposed)

Vehicle scratches can occur more frequently than you may think, whether it’s from a careless driver, loose pebbles chipping away at your paint or even a rogue keying here and there. If not dealt with quickly, deep scratches and chips exposing your car’s bare metal can rust within a few days and cause serious headaches. Thankfully, Holts has the solution.

Step by step guide:

  1. Clean and repare
  2. Apply the colour coat
  3. Apply the clear coat
  4. Flatten the area
  5. Finish up

Whatever the shade or hue, Holts Paint Match Pro matches to your car paint, just use our handy tool to pick the right colour. It’s simple to use and repairs can be done there and then on your driveway. A lot of people worry about the expense of fixing scratches like this, but Paint Match Pro means avoiding costly trips to the body shop. Follow these steps to repair the scratch, and get your car looking spot on once more.

Step 1: Clean and Prepare

deep scratch repair

  • Wash your motor

Start by washing your car with a car shampoo and sponge or microfibre cloth. Then make sure it’s completely dry and clean before you start.

  • Assess the scratch

You can now properly assess the depth of the scratch. If you’re lucky the damage will only expose the primer. If bare metal is exposed and it has already rusted, check out section 5, our DIY Guide to Painting Metal.

  • Prepare the area

Start by using masking tape and newspaper to cover the surrounding area to avoid over spray to the undamaged paintwork. The area you need to mask will depend on the size of the damaged area, but better to be safe than sorry. If in doubt, always mask off a much larger area as the spray paint can travel in the air and settle on undamaged paintwork.

You’ll now need to use a paint rubbing or cutting compound on and around the scratch. Use a circular motion to remove a very thin layer of the surrounding paint – a couple of centimetres either side of the scratch will do. This will help later on when you’re blending the new coats. If there’s any excess compound or mess, clean it up so the area is clear for painting.

Step 2: Apply the Colour Coat


  • Choosing the right colour

You’ll need to buy touch-up paint that perfectly matches your car’s paintwork — and that’s where Holts Paint Match Pro comes in. Using our simple online colour match checker, you can quickly find the right paint for your car based on its manufacturer, colour and year. The Paint Match Pro range features over 8,000 car colours, and the simple-to-use can is perfect for DIY repair and renovations.

  • Apply your chosen paint

Either spray the colour coat or use a fine paint brush or cocktail stick to build up thin layers. The key is to build the paint to just below the level of the surrounding clear coat. Leave between 10 and 30 minutes between paint applications – the paint will dry at different speeds depending on the temperature.

Step 3: Apply the Clear Coat

Once you’re happy with the level of the colour coat and it has completely dried, apply the clear coat in thin layers so it sits just above the surrounding paint. Again, allow between 10 and 30 minutes between applications depending on temperature.

You might need to leave the paint to harden for a day or two before moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Flatten the Area

car repairing

Finally, you need to smooth the area so it’s flat and can’t be noticed next to the original paint.

You’ll either need to use a very fine grit wet and dry sandpaper (2,500 grit, for example) or an abrasive rubbing/cutting compound depending on the size of the scratch. Just as you did in the preparation stage, work the compound in a circular motion a couple of centimetres either side of the repair. If you’re sanding it, use a coarse sandpaper at first, changing the paper for a finer grit to work up to the 2,500 grit sandpaper in stages.

Step 5: Finishing Up

Use a polish, not a polish compound, to give your car that professional quality finish. Follow the instructions on the polish. Want it to radiate shine? Give it a wax and buff for that added gleam.

At Holts, we’re committed to solving your car problems. To find out more, and view our complete product range, visit the homepage.

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