What To Do When a Car Scratch Has Exposed Metal

There’s nothing quite like the sight of a car scratch that exposes metal. It feels like a personal affront, as if someone has deliberately vandalized your vehicle. But don’t worry — there are plenty of things you can do to fix it up and make it look new again.

Car scratches near the wheel

If your car has a scratch that exposes metal, you can use touch-up paint or nail polish to cover up the exposed area. If the metal is rusted, you will need to sand down the rust and apply a primer before painting. For a permanent fix, visit a professional detailer.

In this blog post, I’ll describe some of the best ways to repair deep scratches on your car and how to avoid further damage to your paint job. Read on for all the details.

How To Repair Deep Scratches on Your Car

Man repairing deep car scratches

Whether you’re dealing with a fresh scratch or one that’s been there for a while, it can be frustrating to see unsightly marks on your car. Scratches not only detract from your car’s appearance, but they can also lead to rust and other damage if left unchecked.

Fortunately, there are a few different ways to repair deep scratches on your car.

Use a Touch-Up Pen or Paint To Fill In the Scratch

Use the following tools and follow the steps to fill in scratches on your car:

  • Touch-up paint or pen. If your car is black, try the SYOAUTO Black Touch-Up Paint. It’s designed to match the color of most black cars and is easy to apply. Also, it comes with a precision applicator for a clean and professional finish.
  • Paper towel
  • Water
  • Detergent. Try the Chemical Guys Car Wash Soap. It’s great for getting rid of dirt and grime without damaging your paint.
  • 600-grit sandpaper
  • Rust-inhibitive primer


  1. Start by cleaning the area around the scratch with a paper towel and water. If the area is filthy, you can use a mild detergent. After cleaning, dry the area with a clean paper towel or let it air dry.
  2. Once the area is clean, sand the area around the scratch with 600-grit sandpaper until the paint is completely removed and the metal is exposed.
  3. Apply the rust-inhibitive primer to the exposed metal.
  4. Repaint the area with touch-up paint that matches your car’s color code.
  5. Allow the touch-up paint to dry for 24 hours before driving your car again.

Note: This method is best for minor scratches and chips and only serves as a temporary fix. For a more effective repair, you’ll need to take your car to a professional.

Apply Clear Nail Polish or Car Wax to the Area

You can also apply nail polish or car wax using the following materials:

  • Clear nail polish or car wax
  • Water
  • Detergent
  • Paper towel


  1. Start by washing the area around the scratch with water and detergent. That will remove any dirt or debris that could prevent the clear nail polish or wax from adhering to the metal.
  2. Once the area is clean, apply a small amount of clear nail polish or car wax to the exposed metal. Be sure to use a product specifically designed for cars — many products that are safe for use on nails can damage car paint.
  3. Allow the clear nail polish or wax to dry completely before driving or washing your car.

Note: Like the previous fix, this is only a temporary solution. The nail polish or car wax prevents rust from forming and will need to be reapplied periodically.

Cover the Scratch With Duct Tape

You can also use duct tape to cover scratches on your car. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Clear tape
  • Water
  • Detergent
  • Scissors


  1. Start by cleaning the area around the scratch with water and detergent. That will ensure that the tape sticks to the metal.
  2. Once the area is clean, cut a piece of duct tape slightly larger than the scratch. Place the tape over the scratch, ensuring that the exposed metal is covered.

Note: This method is only effective for minor scratches. Besides, it’s only a temporary fix that prevents rust from forming. You’ll still need to have it done professionally to avoid further damage.

How To Prevent Further Damage to Your Car’s Paint

Shiny car paint

Once you’ve repaired the scratch, you’ll want to take steps to avoid further damage to your car’s paint. After all, it’s much easier to prevent damage than repair it.

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Here are a few practical tips for protecting your car’s paint:

Wash and Wax Your Car Regularly

One of the best ways to protect your car’s paint is to wash and wax it regularly. That will remove dirt, dust, and other debris that can damage the paint. Waxing will also create a barrier that protects the paint from the elements.

Caution: Avoid washing your car with harsh chemicals, such as bleach or vinegar. That can damage the paint. Instead, use car wash soap and avoid scrubbing the mark.

Avoid Parking in Direct Sunlight

Another way to protect your car’s paint is to avoid parking in direct sunlight. The sun’s UV rays can fade the paint over time.

If you must park in direct sunlight, use a car cover to protect the paint. That will prevent UV from degrading your car’s paint.

Use a Car Cover When You’re Not Driving

If you’re going to be storing your car for an extended period, add a car cover. It’ll prevent dust, dirt, and debris from damaging the paint.

A car cover will also protect your paint from UV rays. If you live in an area with extreme weather conditions, a car cover can also prevent hail damage.

Avoid Harsh Cleaning Your Car

Avoid using harsh chemicals when cleaning your car, such as bleach or vinegar. That can damage the paint.

Moreover, exposing the scratched metal to harsh chemicals may cause further damage. If you must use a cleaning product, opt for a mild soap.

The Bottom Line

If you have a car scratch with exposed metal, it’s essential to take action immediately. That will prevent rust from forming and causing further damage. You can do a few things to fix the scratch, but it’s best to take your car to a professional.

First published on Sep 5, 2022 by CarCareReport.com.

In the meantime, take steps to protect your car’s paint from further damage. Wash and wax your car regularly, avoid parking in direct sunlight, and use a car cover when not driving.

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