How to Fix Deep Scratches on a Car Door?

Every car owner treats their four-wheeler with utmost care. They’re expensive, so keeping them in great condition is often imperative. Still, accidents happen, and scratches are normal if you drive often. If you have a scratch issue, here’s how to fix deep scratches on a car door and other parts.

Where Do Scratches on Car Doors Come From?

Scratches can appear on car doors at any moment. Dust, dander, traffic, and just time are often responsible for causing some wear and tear on vehicles; having scratches on your car’s hood or doors is pretty normal, especially if it’s an off-road car that you drive everywhere.

Though the elements and simply existing can scratch a car, these things don’t cause deep scratches. Those are usually caused by sharp objects and collisions and tend to be more visible and prominent than others. 

If you spot one or more of these on your car’s exterior, the next time you decide to clean your seatbelts and that steering wheel, ensure you also use my DIY tips for filling deep scratches.

Watch Your Keys

The first well-known cause of car scratches are keys. They’re metal, sharp, and easy to handle, but they can also be the bane of your existence, or at least your new car’s. Sometimes a person doesn’t notice scratches on their car, but the ones made with a key are pretty prominent and tough to miss.

Because of this, people can often get angry at someone or something else when they spot a scratch without realizing they may have accidentally caused the scratch themselves. So, while taking your car for a spin, ensure your keys are at a safe distance from your car’s exterior. They should only be used for the lock inside.

Drive Safely

Accidents cause more dents and scratches than keys, that’s for sure. However, even a small bump while parking or passing some bushes or low-hanging branches can cause some real damage.

Road rage is a big issue and can cause irreparable damage. Even small conflicts here and there can result in getting one’s car scratched and damaged. To avoid any similar issues, drive safely, don’t engage with other angry drivers, and always have the right winter or summer tires to keep your car under control.

Too Much Care

Oh yes, the issue of caring for your car a little bit too much is also why you’ll sometimes notice bumps and dents. Overwatering flowers will inevitably kill them, and that’s how you could damage your four-wheeler.

When you polish the car too much, especially with a rough cloth, you strip the car of its top paint coat – this removes the protective polish layer and exposes it to UV rays. Although some vitamin D never hurts anyone, it can fade the color of your car.

Your paint job could end up patchy and pale in places where you washed and polished the most, making it look like a Transformer with skin problems. Be wary of caring for your vehicle too much – everything’s good in moderation.

scratch line on a car
Yes, it’s possible to accidentally key your car, so stay mindful of that

The Levels of Car Scratches and When to Worry About Them

As silly as it may sound to have levels of car scratches, they do exist. There are four levels, ranked from least to most damaging or serious for your paint job. The table below presents those levels and their descriptions.

Level 1Minor scratches that manifest only in the top layer of your paint finish. These can be polished quickly.
Level 2More severe scratches that get into the top layer and reach the paint job itself. Still, these can also be polished.
Level 3These scratches go down to the primer and require touch-up paint and polish.
Level 4The most severe level of scratches that go down to the bare metal. They require a primer and touch-up paint, clear coating, and polish.

Is It Possible to Fix Deep Scratches on Car Doors?

It’s possible to fix car door scratches, but a lot depends on their level and your budget. If you have level four scratches, doing a DIY project might cost you the same as taking the vehicle to a professional who knows how to take care of it.

On the other hand, each level of car scratch has some home fixes and ways to take care of them without really needing to leave your garage. A lot depends on how dedicated you are to do the job correctly. You’d be surprised how many folks aren’t.

When you first notice some scratches on your car (maybe you’re changing a flat tire or doing a tail light replacement and take notice,) you should first determine how bad the damage is. If they’re barely noticeable and only in the top coat – excellent! There’s a fix for that.

If you have a bad case of level three or four scratches, it’s time to worry. How can you tell? If you can see the silver metal where the scratch is, that’s your car door’s primary material or bones. And if your car is silver, you’ll still notice the scratches; silver paint jobs have a different shimmer from metal.

white car scratched
Deep scratches can be fixed as long as you have the patience for it

Tools and Items for Fixing Scratches on Cars

For every repair and fix on a car, you’ll need an appropriate set of tools. You’ll be happy to know a lot of the stuff that can be used are a part of your household; if not, they’re rather easy to shop for and can be found in most hardware and automotive stores.

The tools you’ll need for surface-level scratches include:

  • Scratch removal kit – can be found at any automotive store and many hardware stores. The kit price ranges from $10 to $30; in it are a scratch removal solution, buffing pads, some touch-up polish, and a touch-up marker. Safe choices include the 3M Scratch & Scuff Removal Kit and Meguiar G17216 Ultimate Compound.
  • Clean cloth – microfiber is best since it doesn’t leave any residue or dander. A regular cloth will work OK if you don’t have a microfiber one.

If this toolkit doesn’t solve your problem, you may have deeper scratches on your hands. For these, you should use:

  • Rubbing alcohol – for removing dust, debris, and dirt,
  • Glazing putty – this product comes in a tube for around $5, so it won’t break the budget. It’s available in most hardware and automotive stores,
  • Toothpaste – if you don’t have time to go to a store for some glazing putty, toothpaste can work wonders – however, you need to wait much longer for it to dry,
  • Nail polish or touch up paint of the same color as the car – if you plan to use toothpaste, you’ll need to dip it in some nail polish, so it colors the scratch correctly. If you chose a lime green car color, tough luck,
  • Spreader tool – you need this to ensure the glazing putty or whatever you put to fill the scratch is spread evenly throughout the scratch surface area,
  • Paint leveler – this is important because you need to color the glazing putty and make the scratch disappear.

Here’s How to Fix Deep Scratches on a Car Door at Home

Before putting the materials for fixing car scratches to good use, I must say this – if you’re dealing with a scratched car for the first time, don’t try to be smart with different methods. $30 at The Home Depot will ultimately be a much better solution than $300 for a fresh paint job you botched trying to fix a level three scratch.

Don’t be cheap with the materials, and ensure you give all the processes enough time to take. Hurrying can often make things a lot worse. Practice your Zen levels while doing repair work on your vehicle.

Check out each step of the process below.

Remove Dirt With Rubbing Alcohol

If dealing with a deeper scratch, take a closer look at it. You’ll likely see some dirt and dust in and around the area. This won’t do, so take some rubbing alcohol and wet a soft sponge or cloth.

Use the soaked cloth to rub the scratch gently with the alcohol solution. Do this until you see the area is free of any remaining dirt. This is especially important if you’ve recently taken the car for wax or resealing.

Use a Filler Material

After the rubbing alcohol step, apply the filler material of your choice. I wholeheartedly recommend glazing putty. That is an affordable and standard thing to have in your garage, so ensure to buy several tubes if that’s an option.

However, don’t squeeze out the entire tube into the scratch. You’ll be removing the extra layer anyway, meaning you’ll be wasting some great glazing putty for no reason. Add a dime-sized piece of putty onto the scratch, and use a leveling tool, like a squeegee or a spreader, to spread it across the scratched surface.

Do this until you see the cracks and dents filled out. Let the putty rest for two to three minutes (at least) to solidify. This waiting time is typically written on the packaging (since it depends on the manufacturer).

Get a Paint Leveler for Clean Results

Glazing putty is usually white; if your car isn’t, that might be a problem. Still, that’s nothing some paint leveling solution can’t repair. Some folks resort to simple nail polish (which isn’t a bad idea,) but a good, professional paint leveling solution is unmatched.

Pour one or two fluid ounces (30 – 50 ml) of this paint leveling solution onto a clean cloth. Rub that all over the scratch gently, and do it until you notice it takes the color of your car. Remember, this can’t damage the putty, so the scratch filling is safe.

If Damage Persists, Use a Touch-Up Color

If the leveler somehow doesn’t work, you can add another layer of touch-up color to be sure. You’ll get this in a scratch removal kit or buy it separately; you can also try nail polish if the color suits the car.

Here’s a hint: the driver’s car door has a label inside where you can find your car’s paint code, resulting in an easier search for a suitable touch-up liquid or pen.

What to Do When Deep Scratches Persist?

Cars are expensive to take care of, but doing all of their checkups on time can significantly reduce maintenance costs. In other words, ensure you notice all the pesky scratches on time before they go from level one to level four – this is possible, too.

If you have a persistent problem with car scratches, the best and most painless way to fix it is to either get a fresh paint job or let a professional take care of the problem. Another solution includes replacing the entire door – imagine the time and money you need.

These are worst-case scenarios, but they’re often better regarding car safety and longevity. If you know someone who does these sorts of things, ask for some advice before sorting out a great friendly discount.

A man checking his car's paint
Treat your car like it’s your firstborn, and it’ll love you for years to come

DIY Solutions Work for Removing Persistent Scratches

Luckily, DIY solutions are effective when it comes to scratches, whether they’re surface-level or deep. As I said, noticing scratches on time results in faster and more affordable repairs; if you appreciate your four-wheeler, you surely understand what I mean.

Since cars are now extra costly and gas prices are going up and down like a rollercoaster, preserving what we have is more important than ever. Don’t be ashamed of your salvage title car or your Hyundai Elantra; give it a good and healthy polish instead.