An Auto Detailing Student's Guide to the Different Types of Surface Scratches
December 1, 2015
Anyone will admit that when the paint on a car gets scratched, it can make the vehicle look a lot less appealing. Scratches make a paint job look neglected and old, and can even decrease a vehicle’s value. People commonly believe that they need to get their entire car repainted in the event of a new scratch, which can be really expensive and time consuming. What they don’t know, however, is that the experts working in auto detailing shops can actually fix most surface scratches, making cars look much better in just a few minutes.
If you’re planning to become an auto detailing professional, part of your job will involve taking a look at scratches, and assessing the best way to go about fixing them. Not all scratches can be removed, but with a little work, they can be manipulated to look much more appealing to the human eye.
Let’s take a look at a few different types of surface scratches, and the techniques that auto detailing experts use to make paint jobs look as good as new.
Auto Detailing Techniques for Clear Coat Scratches
During your auto detailing career, the most common type of surface scratch you’ll encounter is a clear coat scratch. Clear coat is the top layer of paint that’s applied over a colored base coat, and is similar to a permanent wax. Clear coat gets scratched from pebbles on the road, branches, or any number of things cars come in contact with on a daily basis. A car’s clear coat can even get damaged by most automatic car washes, where scratches will appear as “swirl marks”.
Clear coat scratches are the easiest to fix. Most of these will disappear with a little hand polishing, or if they are deeper, with machine polishing and rounding.
Working on Primer Scratches in an Auto Detailing Shop
Primer scratches run a little deeper than the clear coat. These scratches can be as deep as the paint or deep enough to expose the primer layer. Similar to clear coat scratches, primer scratches can also be caused by any number of things, including rocks or keys. However, these types of scratches require a little more time and effort to correct in a professional automotive detailing shop.
To fix primer scratches, auto detailers use buffing machines set at higher speeds. Depending on how deep the scratch is, they will then apply corrective materials, like a leveling compound, before they go on to polish the car’s finish.
A Small Step Beyond Auto Detailing: Paint Scratches
The most severe type of surface scratch a vehicle can get is a paint scratch. A paint scratch is one that removes the clear coat, the paint, and the primer, exposing the metal that’s underneath. These usually occur during minor fender benders or similar incidents. Drivers need to have paint scratches looked after as soon as possible, or rust can start to form on the body of the car.
Detailing experts are able to spot paint scratches, however, they may not be able to repair them unless they work in a fully-equipped auto body shop. The repair process involves using equipment like a wet sander to go over the scratch multiple times and clear the area before it is patched up with body paint and another clear coat.
Want to learn more by pursuing auto detailing training from a reputable automotive school?
Visit ATC to check out the course outline, or to speak with an advisor today!
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