Car Scratch Repair Cost: Should I File a Claim?

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If your car got scuffed up and you're considering filing an insurance claim to fix car scratches, there are a few things you need to know before you proceed. Consider a rate hike, if you file a claim, versus paying out-of-pocket. Consider the fact that there will be a deductible to pay (there always is with a claim!). There are also steps you can take to fix car scratches yourself on the cheap. Car scratch costs vary according to the severity and depth of the scratches, which may or may not require painting an entire area. Minor scratch repair costs can be as low as $12 for minor scratches you can fix yourself or as high as $1,500 for deep scratches fixed by a body shop. The average car scratch repair cost is $630.46. Most deductibles for car insurance range from $500 to $1,000. 

Types of Damage and Car Scratch Repair Costs

Scratch Wizard, a manufacturer of automotive coatings and detailing products, recently surveyed 30 body shops to find the average prices to repair car scratches on a Honda Civic. The company sent pictures to 30 body shops and requested a damage assessment. They also asked how long the shops would need to repair the vehicle..

They received replies from 13 companies. The cheapest estimate they received was $300 and the most expensive one was $1,161. The average price to repair scratch damage was $630.46.

There are four types of scratches that can affect your car. They fall under two categories: minor and deep-level scratches.

Minor Car Scratch Repair Costs

Scuffs are collections of light surface scratches that only damage the clear coat of your vehicle's paint job. To test whether a scuff has damaged only your clear coat, rub with spit. If the scratch disappears, it is probably a scuff. These usually disappear when you apply moisture.

Repairs: You can repair car scratches, like scuffs, yourself with a rubbing compound purchased from an auto parts store ($12). A body shop will charge $50 - $70.

Clearcoat scratches are light surface damages that only affect your car's clear coat paint. They haven't penetrated the clear coat of your car's paint job, and don't require a paint job. You can get rid of these scratches yourself by using a compound purchased from an auto parts store.

Repairs: For surface-level clearcoat scratches: You can get rid of a clearcoat scratch with a rubbing compound from an auto body store ($12). Before applying the solution, clean the area with rubbing alcohol. Next, follow the manufacturer's directions to cover the scratch. An auto body shop can also repair this for $50 - $70.

For deeper clearcoat scratches, you'll need wet/dry 2000 grit sandpaper. Next, use alcohol to clean the area. Soak the sandpaper in water, then use it to sand the scratch. After you've finished, use a rubbing compound to eliminate the sand scratches. Once you're finished, use a polisher to shine the area. The materials will cost you $30. A body shop will charge you $150-$300 to do the same.

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Deep Car Scratch Repair Costs

Paint scratches affect the paint layer and require a car paint job. Scratch and dent repair costs are the highest.

Repairs: If you want to try and repair the car scratches yourself, you'll need to purchase a touch-up paint pen or a bottle-and-brush from an auto parts store. First, clean the area with rubbing alcohol. Next, use the smallest brush possible with a tiny amount of paint and apply it to the area. It will cost $30 to do it yourself. Auto body shops charge $400 - $1,000 to repair these scratches, even if they are small since body shops must paint the entire area.

Deep paint scratches expose your vehicle's bare plastic or metal surface.

Repairs: According to J.D. Power, You can use a glazing putty, instead of a scratch removal paste, to fix deeper-level scratches ($10). Clean the area first with rubbing alcohol to remove all dirty and residual wax from the area. Next, apply the putty directly on the scratch. A dime-sized amount usually works. The putty should fill the scratch space to help restore it to its original condition. Smooth the putty using a spreader tool, like a squeegee. Allow the putty to cure and harden for three minutes without interruption.

Once the process finishes, you can remove the excess putty using a microfiber cloth soaked with a liquid paint leveler. Next, continue rubbing with the cloth until the scratch is a flat, colored line. After you've completed it, you can paint over the scratches you've filled in.

Home repair would cost about $40. A body shop will charge $800 - $2,500.

How Much Are Car Scratch Repairs?

Type of Scratch


Body Shop




Clearcoat Scratches



Paint Scratches



Deep Paint Scratches



Insurance Deductible

Comprehensive insurance deductibles


Deductible Versus Paying Out of Pocket

It's not always a good idea to file an insurance claim to fix your vehicle's scratched paint job. If possible, consider paying out of pocket for low-cost repairs. For one thing, after a rate hike, your insurance premiums will quickly exceed the insurance settlement you used to cover your repair costs. Additionally, it makes no sense to file a claim if your bill doesn't exceed your deductible.

Another factor you should consider is whether your repairs are worthwhile based on your car's current market value. Some people decide to fix their vehicle's cosmetic damage before they sell it; however, it may not be worth it to repair car scratches if your vehicle has depreciated heavily.

For instance, if your car is worth $3,000, it isn't worth it to pay $1,000 to fix scratches, since the repairs would exceed a large percentage of your car's value.

If the scratches are minor, consider repairing them yourself to save money and avoid filing a claim.

If the scratches are minor, consider repairing them yourself to save money. You can get a repair kit from your local auto parts shop to fix them.

Does Car Insurance Cover Scratches and Keying?

Yes, you may use your car insurance to fix scratching and keying damages. You can file an auto insurance claim as long as you have comprehensive coverage, which pays to repair or replace vehicles damaged in non-collision events, such as fires, falling objects and acts of vandalism. You'll have to pay for your repair costs out of pocket if you solely have liability insurance. Additionally, car repair insurance coverage doesn't pay for cosmetic damages.

You may use your comprehensive car insurance to fix scratching and keying damages, but your rate may go up.

If your insurer approves your comprehensive insurance claim, you must pay your deductible before insurance pays for the damages. You can also sue the vandal in small claims court if you have proof. You can file a suit regardless of whether your carrier paid off the claim.

If I File a Claim, Will My Insurance Rates Go Up?

Your premiums may increase if you file a car insurance claim to repair scratches. The increase can be as much as two percent, depending on your driving record and claims history. This hike isn't as high as it would be for at-fault accidents, poor credit scores or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges because comprehensive claims involve events that are out of the driver's control.

Your increase could be higher than two percent if you've filed other insurance claims, especially within the past two or three years.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, a rate increase after an auto insurance claim varies depending on the carrier.

What Should You Do When Someone Keys Your Vehicle?

There are several steps you should take if someone has keyed your vehicle. The process to file an insurance claim is similar to others.

  • Gather evidence of your damages to support your claim. If there are nearby buildings, ask the owners if they have security cameras that point towards where you were parked. You should get this footage to learn who the perpetrators were. If possible, find out if there are any eyewitnesses to the crime.
  • Next, take photographs of all damages to your vehicle. Your shots should be clear and show the damage from different angles.
  • Call the police. You'll need to file a police report to file a comprehensive claim. Your insurer can also sue the criminal if law enforcement tracks them down.
  • Contact your insurance company to begin the claims process. An insurance adjuster will visit your home to assess and validate your vehicle damages.
  • Get an auto shop estimate so you can learn how much it will cost to repair your vehicle. The repair shop may also notice damage to your bumper, gas tank or locks.

Comprehensive Insurance and Car Scratch Repairs

Your vehicle requires insurance protection in case someone or something damages it. When shopping for a new policy, consider adding comprehensive insurance to cover damages from vandalism. Although your insurer may cover car scratches, consider fixing them yourself or paying for repairs to keep your car insurance rate low, especially if the repairs are low cost and don't exceed your deductible.

When shopping for a car insurance policy with comprehensive coverage, SmartFinancial can match you with an agent who can meet your needs and budget. If you're dissatisfied with your current coverage or the way a claim was handled by your current insurer, SmartFinancial can help you find a cheaper alternative. Get a free car insurance quote by entering your zip code below.

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