5 DIY repairs it may be possible to do on your car; minor scratching, stone chips, small dent removal and alloy wheel refurbishment and repairs discussed.

It’s possible to save some money with these basic home car repairs

No matter how careful you are or how well you look after your car, it’s an unfortunate fact that sooner or later the odd scratch, scuff or ding may appear. Frustratingly, it’s not always your fault, but you’re left with either taking your car to a body repair specialist or doing a spot of DIY.

The good news is that there are now plenty of good quality materials to help such as specialist polishes along with good old T Cut, various grades of sandpaper, touch up and repair kits galore and high-quality paint that will help you get a good match with your car’s body colour.

Much of this can be found by specialist suppliers on the Internet and it’s easy to buy car paint online and take advantage of specialist colour matching.

Assessing repairs

When confronted with a repair job, your first thought is to decide whether or not to tackle it yourself or seek the help of a professional. Along with body shops, there are mobile repairers who can undertake various repairs and these can save money compared to using a full-blown body shop.

Much of the time it’s not simply whether you’re up to the task personally but having access to certain equipment. Although, as said above, many ‘off the shelf’ products exist to help, certain repairs may need equipment that you may not possess and couldn’t justify buying just to do one small repair such as a powered sander.

Here are some DIY repairs you might fancy tackling:

  1. Light scratching

If there are one or maybe several lighter scratches on your car, you may be able to remove them by simply polishing them out.

First, try a basic car polish to see if that does the trick – it may well do. If the scratches are a little deeper, then a light abrasive liquid such as T-Cut may be required. It works by removing a very thin layer of paint to take the scratch away so long as it hasn’t penetrated any deeper than the outer layer of paintwork.

  1. Deeper scratching

If the ’T-Cut approach’ doesn’t work, or it’s obvious the scratching has penetrated into the actual colour layer, then retouching will be required.

For this, heavier duty scratch remover liquids will be required along with a touch up kit. This usually consists of materials to repair the scratch using the following steps:

  • Fill the scratch with resin usually contained in the supplied pen
  • Once its dried, sand it down to a smooth finish
  • Touch it up with your body colour paint (which you may need to have mixed accurately)
  1. Stone chip repair

The bane of many a motorist, the approach to repairing these is similar to removing scratches above; because they tend to be deeper and more localised the repair method is slightly different.

  • Clean the area carefully – being the front of the car there could be more muck such as squashed insects, tar and road film to remove
  • Carefully sand down the area surrounding the chip (a cutting compound might work or you may need sandpaper)
  • Apply the base coat with a small brush or pen if your repair kit comes with one
  • Apply the paint in thin layers – don’t be tempted to ‘plaster’ it on in one go; be patient in applying each layer and letting them dry until the paint reaches the level of the surrounding bodywork
  • When finished layering, sand carefully with fine grain sandpaper
  • Apply the top coat

If the chip has gone to the bare metal or there is rust present, you’ll need to use a professional body repairer.

  1. Minor dent repair

Some dents may be repairable and, if you’re lucky, may not break the paint. You’ll need one or two pieces of basic equipment to attempt these.

Plunger – you’ll need a plunger and some vaseline.

  • Clean the area thoroughly and dry it off
  • Moisten the end of the plunger with a little vaseline
  • Affix the plunger round the dent and carefully push and pull it; hopefully the dent will ‘pop’ out

Hammer – you’ll need a hammer, a piece of flat metal, some cloth and to be able to access the metal on the other side of the dent. For example, if it’s on a door you’d have to remove the interior panel to access the bare metal on the inside.

  • Cover the flat metal with cloth to protect the paintwork
  • Position the metal against the dent on the outside
  • Hammer the dent from the inside and hopefully it’ll pop out
  1. Alloy wheel repair and refurbishment

Smart wheels make a big difference to the appearance of your car, and dirty or damaged alloys will benefit from some attention.

Heavier duty cleaning – when there’s a big build-up of brake dust and other muck, a good quality alloy wheel cleaner will be required.

Follow the instructions carefully and don’t use in a confined space as the fumes are usually pretty powerful. You may need to brush in and around the nooks and crannies – get a proper alloy wheel brush for this.

Repairing damage – if damage is more extensive such as kerbing or general scuffing, then repairs usually using a kit may be called for.

These normally contain paint suitable for your alloy (silver or maybe black), lacquer and some sandpaper, filler, brushes and perhaps protective gloves. Basically, you’ll be filling the scuffs and scratches and painting them over and lacquering them to finish off.

These kits are only suitable for lighter scratching and scuffing; deeper gouges through severe kerbing, or damage caused through no cleaning for a considerable time means you’ll need to use a professional alloy wheel cleaning specialist.

Using help when required

While there are certainly ways to do your own repairs, it’s important to know your limitations and consider whether it’s worth your time and effort. If you decide to contact a body shop, their professional trade organisation can point you in the direction of a suitable local company.