Recognizing The Most Common Forms Of Minor Paint Damage

Posted on: 21 July 2021

Your paint is typically one of the first victims following any collision. Even relatively minor accidents can lead to scratches or chips in your paint. These issues can reduce your car's cosmetic appeal and value, and they may even result in more severe trouble down the line. Recognizing some of the more common forms of paint damage is an excellent way to know when a problem is too critical to ignore.

Although paint damage comes in many different forms, this article will discuss three varieties you're most likely to see following relatively minor accidents.

1. Surface or Clear Coat Scratches

Most car paints consist of three layers: a primer, a color (or base) coat, and a clear coat. The clear is the reason that car paints look shiny, and they're the source of the deep, reflective look you get when it rains or immediately after you wash your car. Your clear coat also protects the lower layers of paint from exposure to the elements.

Clear coat scratches can range from so minor that they're nearly invisible to deep enough to feel with your fingernail. Determining the full extent of clear coat damage often involves the use of specialized tools, such as high-intensity lighting. Clear coat scratches are typically just cosmetic, and shops can often repair insignificant damage with buffing and polishing.

2. Deep Scratches or Chips

Deeper paint damage can penetrate the clear coat to reach the base coat or may even extend to the primer. If you don't have paintwork experience, it may be challenging to tell the difference between a deeper chip or scratch and surface damage. For example, some deep scratches may dig into the base coat but not remove enough paint to expose the primer.

Primer is usually black, white, or gray, so pay attention to scratches with a different color at the bottom. If you see these problems but don't see exposed metal, you know that the gash penetrated as far as the primer layer. You can attempt to fix minor scratches of this variety with touch-up paint, but you'll need a professional to perform a repair that will blend with the rest of your car's color.

3. Exposed Metal

The most severe type of damage involves exposed metal. If you can see metal at the bottom of a scratch, chip, or dent, then the damage cut through the primer. Any exposed metal is vulnerable to rust, and rust can cause nearby paint to bubble, chip, and flake. Ultimately, this means that rust can "spread" by exposing more surrounding metal, creating a very costly situation.

Once you know the severity of the paint damage on your car, you can decide how best to approach repairs. If the damage hasn't reached the lower layers of paint, there's little harm in waiting to fix it. On the other hand, you should never ignore the dangers of leaving your vehicle with exposed metal surfaces.

If you have further questions, speak with a local collision repair shop.


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