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What Is The Average Cost of Paint Scratch Repair?

We conducted a small survey of 30 body shops.

Fixing this scratch costs an average of $650 at a body shop.

Fixing this scratch costs an average of $630.46 at a body shop.

Take a look at the picture to the right: handful of scratches, minor paint damage, and a long scratch that looks like someone might have keyed it. We sent that picture to 30 body shops and asked for a damage assessment. We also asked how long they would need the car, and mentioned that we would not be using insurance. After four days and thirteen replies, here is what we got:  

  • The cheapest estimate we received was $300.
  • The most expensive response was $1,161.
  • The average price to restore the Civic was $630.46.
  • Time frames varied from a couple of hours to 17 hours.

 

 

Learn The 4 Types Of Paint Scratches, and their Fixes.

If you are looking for the cost of paint scratch repair, the key determining factor is the type of damage that is involved. All cars have three layers that make up a paint job: the first layer is clear coat, the second is paint and the third is primer. Though the size and length of the scratch is a factor in repair costs, the fewer the layers it penetrates the better. For example if the scratch only penetrates the first layer, that’s going to cost less to fix than one that penetrates all three layers.   Here is a break down of four types of well known scratches.  

Scratch Type 1: Scuffs

Scuffs are a collection of very light surface scratches that have only damaged the clear coat of the paint job. To find out if the scuffs have only damaged your clear coat, rub with spit (really) and see if the scuffs vanish.

The fix: You can get rid of these yourself with some rubbing compound from an auto parts store. Or have an auto body shop do it for you ($50-70).


Scratch Type 2: Clear-Coat Scratch

These are deeper, longer scratches than a scuff, but since the scratch has not penetrated past the clear coat layer you do not have to do any painting to repair it. To find out if the scuffs have only damaged your clear coat, rub with spit (really) and see if the scuffs vanish.

The fix:You can get rid of these yourself with some rubbing compound from an auto parts store. Or have an auto body shop do it for you ($50-70). If the scratch is a deeper one, but has still not reached the paint layer, you will need some wet/dry sandpaper to get rid of it. The sandpaper will cost around $10, with wet 2000 grit being preferred. Soak the sandpaper in water and sand the scratch. You will also need rubbing compound to get rid of the sand scratches, as well as polisher so that you can shine it when you are done. All told this will cost about $30 to do it yourself, which is a fraction of the $150-300 that a body shop will charge you.


Scratch Type 3: Paint Scratch

Since the scratch has gotten into the paint layer, you are going to need to do some painting to fix it.

The fix: Apply touch up paint:  pen or bottle-and-brush.  Use as little paint as possible, and the smallest brush available. Auto body shops will charge you anywhere from $400 to $1000, and it does not matter if the repair is a small one: once it hits the paint layer the entire part must be repainted.


This deep scratch penetrates all 3 layers and reveals the exposed metal.

This deep scratch penetrates all 3 layers and reveals the exposed metal.

Scratch Type 4: Deep Paint Scratch

These jobs include fixing very deep scratches that have exposed bare metal or plastic.

The fix: Touch up paint, for the do-it-yourselfer.  Auto body shops will charge $800 to $1500 for a perfect repair.

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