A last-chance, step-by-step guide to fixing a scratch on your car

DeBord PriusMatthew DeBord/Business InsiderWhen it was new — before scratches.

You can live with scratches on your car — but you shouldn’t.

Scratches are like the old torture of death by a thousand cuts. Eventually, they will destroy your car’s finish by allowing rust to develop on metal parts. And like the great Canadian poet said, rust never sleeps.

Neil Young references aside, I recently suggested two ways to repair scratches. While I was dispensing this basic advice, it occurred to me that I had some scratches on my own car, a 2011 Toyota Prius, that needed attending to, certainly as winter arrived in the Northeast, where I live.

We’ve had some snow and cold, but so far, winter has been mild. So you have a little extra time to do some last-chance scratch repair before the nasty weather really sets in.

I kind of split the difference between my two earlier scratch repair techniques: I didn’t use tape; and I didn’t go for a perfect fix.

Read on:

I've had my Prius for over a year -- lots of time to acquire a few dings and scratches.

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Here's the one I decided to repair first: a narrow scribbled scrape. Ugly! Mind you, this scrape was in my plastic bumper. But I had others in the metal body panels.

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A company called TouchUpDirect sells repair kits. For about $30, I got a paint pen to match my car's colour, as well as a clear coat pen. Clearcoat is the transparent layer that protects the finish.

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Here's a link to the company's site. I don't recommend or endorse the product, but in my case, it worked well.

TouchUpDirect includes a test card and provides instructions on its website to use the products.

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STEP 1: Clean the scratched surface.

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STEP 2: Shake up the paint inside the pen.

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STEP 3: Double check that you got the right colour and ...

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... STEP 4: Compare to your car's finish. In my case, it was a perfect match. TouchUpDirect has a database of auto manufacturers, makes, and model years so you can get the correct colour.

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STEP 5: Apply the paint to the scratch. I found that I had to use several coats for this step.

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Voila! The scratch is now filled in with paint. I allowed about five minutes between coats.

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STEP 6: Let the paint dry. I gave it around 30 minutes.

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STEP 7: Apply the clearcoat.

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Nothing to it. But I needed three coats to get what I thought was acceptable coverage.

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STEP 8: Let the clearcoat dry and pat yourself on the back for another automotive repair well done. I could have sanded, buffed, and waxed the area for a more pristine fix, but honestly the bumper will never look new again, so I was happy to seal the damage.

Matthew DeBord/BI

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