Car owners are always eager to try out quick-fix auto detailing products, especially when it comes to repairing cosmetic defects such as car paint scratches. Car scratch repair pens claim to offer a quick and effective repair job but do they really work as advertised? Let’s evaluate these products against the traditional method of removing clear coat scratches by sanding and buffing.
What are car scratch repair pens?
Car scratch repair pens are applicators that are filled with clear coat resin, the same that forms the outer layer of car paint. They claim to give professional results in a few easy steps; fill the scratch with clear coat, let the area dry, then buff or polish the surface. There are many brands such as Turtle Wax Scratch Repair Pen, Simoniz Fix it Pro Clear Coat Scratch Repair Pen and DuPont Pro Fusion Color. These pens cost around $10.
What do the advertisements claim?
All car scratch repair pens are marketed as an effective, easy and inexpensive remedy for clear coat scratches. They are also said to work on all car paint colors. Both Turtle Wax and Simoniz pens contain a colorless pigment while the DuPont pen can be purchased in a variety of colors such as red, blue, silver, black and white. The professional results provided by these pens, they say, will save you from a very costly bill at an autobody shop. But do car scratch repair pens really live up to these claims?
Do these pens work?
Using car scratch repair pens is not very easy when it comes to achieving precision, because evenly filling up a scratch takes a steady hand and experience. Also, the width of the tip of the pen should be the right size. Because there is a good chance that the scratches you are dealing with are smaller than the pen tip, there will always be excess product that needs to be buffed. Also, the results are not very invisible as the advertisements claim. In fact, they can accentuate the scratch and make the area look messy.
These pens will not work for scratches that have penetrated the clear coat and gone down to the primer. Because the instructions do not specifically state this, it can create some confusion among the consumers. Repairing a deep scratch should always be done by a professional auto detailer who will sand the scratch, buff it and repaint the area if necessary.
Is there a better alternative?
If you are still on the lookout for a DIY car scratch repair method, then products such as Nu Finish Scratch Doctor and QUIXX High Performance Scratch Remover will deliver great results for a dollar or two more. They will hide/remove the scratches as opposed to the visible repair offered by car scratch repair pens. You will also be saved from the trouble of having to buff the scratches later to remove imperfections. The traditional method of wet sanding a scratch is a very aggressive method, so unless you have experience doing it, we recommend you seek the help of a professional service.
Car scratch repair pens do not live up to the claims of the manufacturers so as mentioned above, you can get better results from a different scratch removal product.
For a professional car scratch repair service check out DetailXPert’s convenient locations.
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As with any kind of car body repair, if the damage is significant, the only way that you’ll get a 'good-as-new' result is by employing the services of a professional for a car paint repair. However, car paint pens are seen more frequently on the market and if you’ve only got a very light scratch on your paintwork you might be tempted to give them a go. Here we explain what these car paint pens are, how they work and the kinds of results you might expect.
'Magic' clear paint pens
There are a few different brands which have brought out 'magic car paint pens' in recent years, including T-Cut. Their claim is that they can match any colour of paintwork to hide the scratches, with a tiny price tag. Is this too good to be true?
Well in most cases the answer is yes, it is too good to be true. Of course, no-one could expect that a pen could act like an eraser to completely remove the scratch. These pens don't contain any paint - just clear lacquer. Car paintwork has a layer of clear lacquer applied over the top of the paint and it is this which magic pens aim to repair.
If there is any deeper scratch in the paintwork, this clear 'band aid' over the top won’t make a difference. One review on Amazon for a magic car paint pen described the appearance as being like 'nail varnish' over the top of a scratch.
That being said, if you only have some tiny, surface marks to repair, this repair technique could help to disguise them. As with any repair, you’ll want to clean and dry the area being treated and then simply draw the pen over the mark – the nib is almost identical to a felt tip. However, the damage will still be visible from close up.
Alternatively, if you have a deeper stone chip or scratch and want a temporary fix to prevent rusting – perhaps if it's winter and you won’t be able to arrange the repair immediately – you could use this product to seal and protect the damage.
There are a couple of different options when it comes to car paint pens with actual paint in them, rather than lacquer:
Cheap, off the shelf paint repair pens, which come in simple colours like red, black, white, etc.
Custom made paint pens, which use your car's colour code to try to get more of an exact colour match
At ChipsAway, we really wouldn’t recommend using an off the shelf pen, simply because it is so easy to end up with results that look like a bit of a bodge job. If you are taking the care to attempt to restore your car’s looks, you don’t want to end up with it looking like someone took a Tip-Ex pen to it!
However, if you want to press ahead with a pen that uses your colour code, the steps to follow are similar to those in our recent post, How to touch up car paint. We recommend that you try repairing a smaller area of the damage from start to finish for some practice and confidence. Then:
Clean the area and remove any wax or polish, then apply a primer.
Be sure not to pump the pen to get the paint flowing on the car – use another hard surface and wipe excess paint from the nib before applying.
Once the primer is applied and dry, apply the coloured base coat gently and carefully
Allow this to dry, and then apply a clear top coat to seal it in. Be careful as the top coat can easily remove the base
Make sure you carry out the repair in a garage, or at least on a still day, to avoid a dusty finish!
Once it’s all dry you can polish and wax as normal
Is it a good result?
In our opinion, a practised hand can get a just-passable result with a car paint pen, but nothing compares to a professional paint respray and ChipsAway repair specialists can help you get much better results. without the hassle and cost of a dealer garage or body shop.
However, if you’re in a bind, feel confident working with a small scratch and have the time and patience, the route to take is a properly colour-matched paint pen, with primer and topcoat. Be aware that it is incredibly easy to end up with a bigger mess than you started with and if the look of your car is important to you it’s best to call the professionals.