Scratches can often appear on cars mysteriously and without warning. Sometimes it’s even a simple matter of parking in the wrong place at the wrong time. All it takes is for someone’s coat zipper to accidentally graze your vehicle, and an unsightly little blemish appears. Now you are faced with the task of repairing the scratch on your brand new car. So how much does it cost to fix car scratches?

The answer is not as simple as it may appear. A number of different factors will determine the cost of fixing car scratches. You need to take into consideration the type of vehicle you own, the type of paint used on the vehicle, and where on the vehicle the scratch is located. Naturally, the size and severity of the scratch also plays a significant role in determining costs, as does the amount of time that has elapsed since the scratch first appeared.

The short answer is that you can expect to pay anywhere from under $25 to hundreds of dollars depending on these factors. If the scratch is deep and appears on a door or panel, a body shop may have to re-paint the entire panel. In a worst case scenario, you could expect to pay as much as between $400 and $1,000.

The good news is that small, light scratches can often be buffed out and touched up with just a small amount of paint. Touch-up paint is inexpensive to acquire (usually under $10), and you can fix the scratch yourself without too much effort. However, this may be complicated further depending on the type of paint that is use.

Keep in mind that matching paint colors is not always as easy as it may sound, because there are literally hundreds of colors on the market with subtle differences between them. Metallic paints can be much harder to match than other types of paint. Sometimes an auto parts store can look up your model and help you select the right kind of paint, which will save you a lot of money. If the paint is relatively easy to match, an auto body service may charge you as much as $60 to fix a small scratch.

Deeper scratches can create a more problematic situation. In addition, scratches that are exposed to the elements for too long will begin to rust – and this is where hefty repair bills can come into play. With this mind, it’s always best to try to catch and resolve the problem as quickly as possible. The longer a scratch goes untreated, the worse the situation is likely to get. If the primer coat is exposed, the damaged area can begin to corrode very quickly. A good rule of thumb is that, if the scratch is larger than a pencil eraser, you will likely be unable to resolve the problem yourself. In this case, it is best to take the vehicle to a professional.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that applying wax coats to your car will help to protect the vehicle from being scratched in the first place. If you wax your car every six months or so, you can prevent scratches from appearing in the first place. But if you do receive a scratch on your vehicle, be sure to take care of the problem right away. Call multiple auto body shops in your area and get quotes, as it may mean the difference between $100 and several hundred dollars. Remember, auto body shops are highly competitive.