What to do about small scratches on car?
March 26, 2014 4:38 PM   Subscribe

I recently got some very small scratches on my car. What is the best thing to do about them??

Due to some car clumsiness, I got some minor (very minor) scratches on the passenger door and side mirror. I don't mind how they look, but I'm super concerned that it'll be bad for the car if I leave them untreated.

Photo 1: passenger door (next to a penny for size reference)

Photo 2: side mirror

Is there any at-home things I can do to make sure that nothing bad happens? How much would it cost to get repaired?

Is it true that rust will start at those spots and slowly devour the car?

I know very little about cars and what to do with these scratches. Thanks!
posted by amicamentis to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The mirror is probably plastic. Nothing's going to happen there – nothing to rust.

The door looks like it has paint on it. Try cleaning the spot with soap and a sponge. If you can see bare metal, then you can touch it up or have someone else do it to prevent rust.
posted by zippy at 4:46 PM on March 26, 2014

the door looks like paint transfer from another car. my boyfriend backed into a pole in the parking garage at his job - the car was white, the pole was blue, and he was pretty bummed. i told him to take it to the local car wash and get a wax job, and they were able to get all the paint transfer on the door off.

so if rubbing with soap and a sponge doesn't help, that might.
posted by koroshiya at 4:49 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Unless there's metal showing under the scratches, there's no risk of continued degradation. Even if metal is showing, the chances of them turning into significant rust spots are very low. If the metal is showing and you are worried about it, clean the area with a bit of soapy water, dry it, and then daub a tiny bit of paint on the spot to cover it up. Then it'll be good as new, functionally speaking.

In your place, however, I would ignore it. The damage is very minor and almost certainly purely cosmetic, and I have plenty of other things to stress out about in my life without adding stuff like that to the mix.
posted by Scientist at 4:53 PM on March 26, 2014

You can order touch up paint from a car dealership.
posted by tamitang at 4:56 PM on March 26, 2014

You can get touch-up paint from the dealer, but I probably wouldn't worry about it. I agree that the red will probably come out with a little elbow grease, and the mirror isn't going to rust.
posted by radioamy at 5:14 PM on March 26, 2014

i told him to take it to the local car wash and get a wax job, and they were able to get all the paint transfer on the door off

Never take your car to a "car wash" if you care about your paint. Seriously. Don't do it. Car washes and so-called "details" by dealerships will ruin your car's paint.

To remove the paint transfer, just wash your car properly using the two-bucket method. If the paint transfer remains after this first step, then simply clay the car. After washing/claying, simply wax.

For the mirror scratch and the inevitable bigger boo-boos down the road, do get touch-up paint from the dealership. You will find the code for the paint in the door.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:30 PM on March 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

Echoing PareidoliaticBoy, as a gift to yourself and your car, you can pick up a claybar and some Optimum No Rinse Wash (which makes an excellent claybar lubricant). Use this to get out that booboo on the door, and use it to handwash the car in the future. The ONR will last you forever, you can wash your car pretty much anywhere since you don't need to hose it off, and it smells like heaven. CAUTION: car detailing becomes addictive!
posted by nacho fries at 8:54 PM on March 26, 2014

Is it true that rust will start at those spots and slowly devour the car?

I got a much larger scratch than that in the mirror of my old car. 5+ years later, nothing had happened. The black colour under the paint indicates it is indeed plastic (as was mine) so it won't do any further harm to leave it that way.

Chips or scratches in painted metal surfaces, if they get right down to the metal, will indeed start to rust, and depending on where you live it may not even take very long.
posted by FishBike at 5:41 AM on March 27, 2014

Goggle up self healing paint. You may not have to do a lot besides a cleaning if your car has this feature.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:29 PM on March 27, 2014

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