For car owners, scratches are always playing hide and seek. Because car scratches are so easy to happen and possibly can be left undetected for a long time. They pose a serious threat to car paint. And as time passes by, even a small clear coat scratch can be drastically bad for your car paint.

Car owners know this too well, that apart from the performance of the vehicle, paint job is very crucial to determining the resale value of the car. So, let’s understand what causes car scratches, know about different types of scratches on cars and how to repair those. 

What causes car scratches?

Your car can get scratches in many ways, and sometimes you won’t even know the exact reason. Let’s try to understand car scratches in detail, their main causes are:

a. Incorrect washing techniques 

Believe it or not, the way you wash your car can lead to minor scratches and imperfections. The key is to not mix buckets for tires and body, and be careful with using grit guards and the most important factor of wiping only with a good microfiber cloth. 

The best thing about washing scratches is that almost all of these can be evened out at home with just some basic polish and wax.

b. Damage from debris and road gravel

When you are driving on the road, sometimes the loose gravel, a stick or even some metal debris could hit your car surface at high speed, which leads to car scratches.

c. Accidents and parking incidents 

Most of the bad scratches happen when your parked car is hit by a shopping trolley or because of the accidents. Most of these types of car scratches will need professional care, though you can still take care of these at home. 

Car Scratches

Different types of car scratches 

Usually all the cars have a set of coatings that make up the paint of the vehicle. All these layers are added on the metal panel of the body. And whichever layer gets damaged, that determines the type of scratch.

Usually all cars have a top protective layer of wax. It helps to protect the car surface from water marks and light scratches. 

This wax layer has a clear coat of paint underneath it, below which lies the base coat or the color coat. The base coat is done on a primer layer. Primer coat is the first layer, just on the top of metal. Primer coating is done to make the surface ready for more coatings and for making the metal panel fully protected from various harsh weather conditions. 

Based on the damage, there are three types of car scratches, clear coat scratch, base coat scratch, and primer coat scratch. These different types of scratches can be identified with a many techniques. But the most important thing is to notice the light reflection from the surface. When there is even a tiny scratch the light will not be reflected evenly and you will be able to notice the scratch. 

Car Coat Scratches


Clear coat scratches are the best things to happen to your car when it comes to scratches.  

One thumb rule for identifying scratches is if you can run your finger nail over it and don’t feel the scratch, it is a clear coat scratch. Another way of finding out whether it is clear coat scratch is to simply put some soapy water over the surface. If the scratch disappears when you splash soapy water over it and then reappears once the water gets dried, it is a clear coat scratch. 

Clear coat scratch repair is very easy and these scratches can be taken care of just by simple buffing, you can apply wax coatings over it. You can use a polisher with a good compound to even it out and your car surface will be restored to a new finish. 

Here’s the step by step process:

  1. Splash the area with soapy water.
  2. Wipe it clean with a microfiber cloth.
  3. Use a sandpaper to level the scratch with background.
  4. Use a machine polisher to polish over this worked area with a suitable cutting compound.
  5. Apply wax on top of polish to restore the natural gloss.

Base Coat Scratch


The base coat or the color coat scratches are the next level of paint damage. To identify a base coat scratch, just run your fingers over the scratch. If you can feel that the damage is a little too deep than the thickness of paper and you can’t see the metal part of the body, it is a base coat scratch. 

These scratches are best left to professionals but again you can take help of a touch up pen, polish and wax. You can partially hide the scratch by following the steps listed for a clear coat scratch repair, but it is highly recommended that you should seek professional opinion on taking care of a base coat scratch. 

Primer Scratch


 A primer coat scratch is the worst scratch for your car’s paint. If left untreated for even for a few days, it can lead to rusting and further paint deterioration and some serious damage to the body of the car. Identifying a primer scratch is very easy. When you see a scratch and can see the metal part being visible, it is a primer scratch. 

Treating a primer scratch will mean repainting that particular area and that’s something best dealt by professionals. 


When it comes to car scratches, it is very important to understand different types of scratches and the best ways to deal with each. Clear coat and color coat scratches are relatively easier to deal with and can be taken care of at home with some basic things like a good cutting compound, polisher, wax and some clean microfiber cloth. 

Car protection from scratches is very easy once you have understood the causes and the repairing process. However, for base coat and primer scratches, it is advised to seek professional opinion ASAP and prevent any further damage to your car’s paint. 

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