Serious damage can begin with a minor scratch
Automotive iconoclast Henry Ford is reputed to have told buyers of his Model T they could select any paint colour as long as it’s black. Today, we see cars in any of 7,000 hues, including shades of rust that won’t appear on colour chips in new car literature.
“Serious rust damage, including a hole right through the metal, can begin with a minor scratch in a parking lot from a shopping cart,” advises Rich White of the Car Care Council. “Steel is strong and lasts a lifetime when it’s protected, but when that protection is invaded, the metal is exposed to the elements. That’s when rust begins its invasion.”
Cover paint chips as quickly as possible, White recommends. For a quick fix until you can get some touch-up supplies, dab a little clear nail polish on the scratch.
Touch-up paint can be found for virtually every vehicle ever built, including antiques. Use the paint code number shown on the identification plate located on a door post, in the glove box, under the hood, in the trunk under the carpet next to the spare or wherever else the car maker has hidden it. The owner’s manual will tell you how to find it.
“Some uncommon colours will have to be ordered where auto parts are sold or from the Internet. Also available are scratch repair kits including everything needed from preparation to finishing a deep scratch,” White adds.
Small dents can be fixed with paintless dent repair, a service found either through local automotive suppliers, the classified section of the phone book or on the Internet.
Like so many aspects of car care, preventive maintenance is much easier and beneficial than corrective measures. Maintaining the original integrity of the finish keeps your vehicle in ‘like new’ condition. The basic rules of body and paint maintenance apply:
• Avoid parking in the hot sun, it can damage interior surfaces as well as the exterior.
• Wash your vehicle frequently, including areas underneath, with mild, safe products.
• Select and use cleaners and waxes carefully. A cleaner that is effective for one type of finish could be disastrous for another.
• Consult the vehicle owner’s manual to be sure.
Remember, it pays to be Car Care Aware.