3 Different Types Of Car Scratches (Key Causes)

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A paint scratch remover can easily fix whirls and scratches that have dented the beauty of your car. However, paint scratch removers can’t remove some scratches; this is because there are different types of car scratches. A deep car scratch doesn’t just make your car look ugly, it also reduces the value.

Basically, there are different types of car scratches, including clear coat scratch, primer scratch, paint/color coat scratch, glass scratch, wheel scratch, and plastic trim scratch.

Here, we will explain the causes of these scratches and how you can possibly avoid or fix them. It’s going to be an interesting read as we’d be hitting straight at the key points.

Different Types Of Car Scratches

The type of scratch on your car is subject to the cause. There are different causes of car scratches, which you must try to avoid. However, if you already found scratches on your car’s body, you should be able to identify the type of scratch and apply the recommended removal solution.

1. Clear Coat Scratch

This is the lightest scratch that can occur on your car’s body – it only affects the clear coat, which is the topmost layer of car paints.

Most modern cars come with a clear coating – a transparent finish that is applied on top of the actual color coating to prevent different elements from having direct contact with the car’s paint color.

Clearcoat scratches are the commonest type of car scratches. They occur from several activities and/or actions. For example, washing your car with a thick sponge can leave light (clear coat) scratches on the body. These scratches are usually not deep and do not affect the actual paint or color of your car.

Also, when you park your car outside, passersby will likely rub their hands and fingers against the body as they walk past the car.

This can also cause slight scratches to appear on your car’s body. Light collisions when trying to park your car can also cause this type of scratches (being discussed here)) to appear.

Acid rain, bird deposits, and other scenarios, activities, or actions can lead to this type of car scratch. But, since this scratch is light, it is easy to remove using clear coat scratch removers. If you ignore to fix this scratch as soon as possible, your car’s actual paint would be exposed to harsh elements and damage.

But how do you know if the scratch affected only the clear coating? Well, a closer look and feel of the scratch should tell.

Move your palm or finger across the area where the scratch occurred and observe how deep it is – if it seems too deep (thicker than a piece of paper), it’s not just the clear coat that was touched.

If you used a finger and your fingernail doesn’t get stuck while moving it across the scratch, it’s probably a light scratch that affected only the clear coat. Get a and fix things up.

2. Paint/Color Coat Scratch

Color Coat Scratch

The next type of car scratch that can dent your car’s finish is the color coat scratch (also called paint coat scratch).

This type of scratch passes the clear coat layer to get into the actual paint of your car. It’s a little bit challenging to deal with this type of car scratch; however, it’s still something you can DIY.

Color coat scratch can result from different activities. Again, washing your car with a sponge or dry towels can leave a deep color scratch. Passersby with sharp objects can also scratch the objects on your car’s body if parked outside without protection, and this can leave deep dents on the paint.

Since this type of scratch affects the actual paint of your car, to fix it, you’ll need a compound filler that matches the exact color of your car’s paint.

It’s easier if your car wears a black or white finish – you will easily find car scratch repair kits for such common colors. Complex colors will be a bit challenging but not impossible.

You can avoid this type of scratch by parking your car in a garage or make use of car covers when you park outside in open spaces. Also, instead of conventional towels, use microfiber cloths to wash or dry your car. These are some basic prevention tips to avoid color coat scratches.

A severe collision can also cause this scratch – maybe when trying to park the car, you accidentally ran into a tree or a static object. Well, whatever caused it, here’s how to detect a paint/color coat scratch and how to get it fixed up.

To fix this type of scratch, you need a complete kit of car scratch remover, or you can get a touch-up paint compound that would match your car paint (color). It may take days for touch-up paints to cure completely. Also, you should apply it carefully around the scratched areas.

Check your car manual to know the exact color used in painting the body. This will help you in finding the best car paint filling compound or to use.

3. Primer Scratch

This is the worst scratch that can happen to your car. Before a paint finish is applied to a car, a primer coating is done to provide more adhesiveness.

Thus, the primer coating is the first layer of every finish applied to a car. For a scratch to go deep into the primer layer, it must be a severe scratch.

It is advisable to fix this type of scratch immediately. This is because, once the primer is affected, the actual material used in constructing your car’s body will be exposed to many elements.

Most cars are constructed with metal or fiberglass materials; thus, if the primer layer is affected, the metallic material will be subjected to harsh conditions that may cause it to degrade or rot faster.

Apparently, primer scratch would cost you a lot of money, and you may need a mechanic to help out instead of practicing DIY tips. Usually, this type of scratch occurs from accidents and severe collisions, where the car fiercely rams into an obstacle.

Sometimes, a little bit of panel beating work has to be done to bring out the affected area(s), which must have gone inside due to the hard impact of a collision, accident, or contact with an object. This has to be done before repainting the scratched surfaces.

Detecting primer scratch is easy – mere looking at the spot will tell that your car is badly affected. Also, as said earlier, it’d be best to have an auto mechanic fix this scratch to ensure a neat work. You could still handle it yourself if you wish.

It would take a couple of days for any fix applied on primer scratches to cure completely. However, it is safe to drive the car around immediately after the fix.


No one would love to see scratches on his car’s body – it’s unappealing and makes the car look ugly. However, to some extent, one cannot completely protect his/her car from these scratches.

The simple trick is to always drive carefully and not to park in open spaces when you can have access to a garage or Car Park.

These different types of car scratches can be fixed; however, if the fix is not done in time, the scratches may lead to other damages such as rot or your car paint begins to fade away quickly.

Waxing your car can offer more protection against scratches. More interestingly, it doesn’t take much time to wax a car.

Waxing will simply add another protective layer on top of the clear coat layer; thus, providing more protection against clear coat scratches.

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