Unlocking the Secret to Fixing a Keyed Car

How do you fix a keyed car?

It doesn’t matter if your car is old or new. Vandalism is just plain wrong. If you’ve noticed scratches on your vehicle, you may wonder how do you fix a keyed car? Fortunately, it is a quick fix with the right supplies.

It’s worth making an effort since it can affect both new car prices and used car values. All it takes is the right prep and patience.

Determine the Extent of the Damage

The first thing you need to do is find out how bad or deep the scratch is. Minor ones will only go through the clear coat. Ones that go through the paint or even to the bare metal are more involved.

You can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to north of $1,000 depending on the depth and extent of the scratch. Your insurance will likely cover it—if it’s more than your deductible.

The repair, however, is doable. Gently run your nail over the damage. If you can feel the edges, it’s down to the paint level. Don’t worry, a keyed car won’t necessarily wreck the value of your car.

Gather Your Supplies

You’ll only need polish to buff out a scratch that hasn’t go below the clear coat. For other repairs, you’ll need the following supplies:

  • Painter’s masking tape
  • Newspaper
  • Sandpaper
  • Rubbing compound (optional)
  • Fine brush
  • Primer
  • Paint, preferably spray
  • Clear coat
  • Clean microfiber cloths
  • Polish

Wash and Dry Your Vehicle

Thoroughly wash the car before you begin to get rid of any dust or particles that could worsen the damage.

Make sure your car is parked away from any trees that may drip sap or debris on it. Also, avoid starting this project if tree pollen is flying. Inevitably, it’ll stick to the wet paint.

Protect Your Car

Adhere newspaper around the area of the scratch using painter’s masking tape. Don’t hesitate to cover a larger area, especially the windows. You can’t overdo this step.

Preparing the Scratch Site

You’ll need to get down to the level of the damage. The essential things to remember are to take your time and to be gentle. A spritz of soapy water will help you see the depth of the scratch better. Dry it thoroughly with a microfiber cloth.

Next, use either rubbing compound or sandpaper to even the surface. The coarseness of the latter depends on how far down you need to go. Again, go slowly and check it periodically.

Apply the Primer If Necessary

If the scratch is down to the bare metal, you’ll need to apply a couple of thin coats of primer before the paint. It will both protect your car and help the color adhere better. Be patient and allow for ample time for drying between the coats.

Painting Over the Damage

Probably one of the most challenging tasks you’ll have with this repair is matching your car’s color exactly. Start with the manufacturer. Otherwise, try to find one that is as close as possible.

Apply a thin coat of paint over the scratch with a brush if using a touch-up product. You’ll likely need a few if it’s deep. Don’t be tempted to fill it all in at once. Doing so will cause it to flake off and ruin all your hard work.

If you’re using spray paint, hold the can about 8 inches from the surface and sweep back and forth smoothly. Release the nozzle before you stop or change direction. Take care of any drips or runs with your brush.

Allow enough time for the paint to cure before moving on to the next step.

Finish Up With Clear Coat

This task is probably the most satisfying. Follow the same procedure as with painting, sticking with a few thin coats. Touch up any runs with the brush.

Remove all the newspapers and tape after the last spray of clear coat. Avoid touching the surface of the vehicle. And like the paint, this layer must also cure. Check the manufacturer’s recommendation on the label.

Buff Out the Repair Site

Finally, apply polish to a clean microfiber cloth and buff out the site. And pat yourself on the back because now you know the answer to how do you fix a keyed car. You can browse Car Finder for a new ride another day.