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Minor scratch from keying - how to best repair it?

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by blaz, Jul 25, 2014.

  1. blaz

    blaz Member

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    #1 blaz, Jul 25, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
    Yesterday as I approached my car I was greeted with a scratch on the rear passenger door from someone who had decided it was a great idea to key my Model S. This happened at my workplace parking garage no less, which is shared by half a dozen companies.

    I'm not an expert in the art of car keying, but to me it doesn't look like a terribly deep scratch thankfully, and it's only about 10 inches long. I'm attaching a few pictures but it's hard to get clear shots from such a reflective surface:

    photo 1 (1).JPG photo 2.JPG

    I called my local shop and they said they'd need to repaint the entire door, which to me sounds a little overkill, but I've never had this happen to me so maybe that's standard procedure. Granted, they haven't seen the scratch yet, so maybe they're thinking it's a hardcore keying job, which it's not.

    So I wanted to know people's advice and experience with similar things. Are there other less invasive options to cover up a scratch like this? If they have to repaint the whole door - and assuming the shop is good at this - should I expect it to look exactly like the rest of the car? I'd prefer living with the scratch than having a door that looks slightly differently than everything else.
     
  2. Gizmotoy

    Gizmotoy Active Member

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    My first step would be to see a highly-regarded professional detailer (ask around for local references). If the scratch isn't deep, they may be able to buff it out. This will degrade the nearby paint slightly (you're essentially pushing nearby paint into the scratch), but it's far better than repainting.

    If they can't buff and polish it out, repainting is probably your only other alternative.

    Sorry to hear that happened to you. :crying:
     
  3. yobigd20

    yobigd20 Well-Known Member

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    This. A professional detailer that knows what he is doing can easily get both minor and major scratches out without repainting. For deep scratches there are ways of buffing down the surrounding area and then using correctly colored fillers and then reapplying clear coat layers to fully restore the paint without any visual indication that a scratch was ever there. You don't need repainting. I've seen way worse scratches fully restored than yours.
     
    • Like x 1
  4. iadbound

    iadbound Member

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    Looks like you better check in with MoeMistry. He's in Orange County, but from what everyone says here: worth it.
     
  5. RclKag

    RclKag BC CND P85+

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    If you can feel the scratch with your fingernail, probably needs paint, otherwise it should polish out.
     
  6. Lloyd

    Lloyd Active Member

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    If your color is black (solid color) you may be able to fill with touch up, sand and polish. Metalics and three stage paints don't repair well this way.
     
  7. MoeMistry

    MoeMistry Local Vendor - SoCal

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    +1...if your fingernail catches it, it's pretty deep. By correctly polishing and/or sanding the area, you may be able to dramatically reduce, or even eliminate the scratch.

    It would have to be seen in person. Try a reputable and knowledgeable detailer in your area. Have him/her measure the paint, then start the process.

    Let us know how it works out.

    Oh...if it does have to be repainted, once again, research the heck for a excellent painter. The right one should match the metallic flakes, color, and even paint thickness and orange peel.
     
  8. blaz

    blaz Member

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    Thanks for all the responses, very informative as always.

    Only about an inch of the total length of the scratch seems to be deep enough to catch my fingernail somewhat. Hopefully there's a way to get rid of most of the scratch without the need for a full repaint.

    MoeMistry, I'll PM you :)
     
  9. BillShepp

    BillShepp Member

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    My daughter threw the door open of our non-Tesla scraping some paint from the Tesla (aargh!). Anyone have a detailer they recommend in the Bay Area, ideally the peninsula or South Bay?

    - Bill
     
  10. MoeMistry

    MoeMistry Local Vendor - SoCal

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    Got your PM...see you in a few weeks.
     
  11. wycolo

    wycolo Active Member

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    Service should have available small jars of exact (color and type) touch-up paint. 'Should' as in it would be really nice if they did. At least they can name the exact paint so you can order it yourself.

    Then just fill the scratch using a pointy paintbrush and lightly sand with 400 paper. Repeat.

    The perp might do it again so cheap, quick 'n easy is the best approach. You will get more scratches eventually anyway.
    --
     
  12. FlyYellow

    FlyYellow Member

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    Take 1000 grit wet/dry 3m sand paper. Soak in water. Sand lightly in circular motion.
    Take 2000 grit wet/dry 3m sand paper. Repeat same process
    Take 3000 grit 3M sponge pad (used by body shops and hard to find except online). Repeat same process
    Use painters tape at the edge of the seam to cover it
    Take 3M polishing compound with a buffer and polish back to a luster
    Take 3M Finesse It with a buffer and further polish back to a brilliant shine
    Take your favorite wax and apply it.
    QED

    Now this isn't for the faint of heart, however most detailers suck and just use the last three steps. Without the sanding you will not restore it correctly. I can wholeheartedly recommend a body shop (NOT a detailer) who can detail this but they are in San Jose.
     
  13. Francis Lau

    Francis Lau P-1456

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    There is specially bad karma coming to folks who key cars. It is sad that someone can be so bitter. When I see something nice, I admire it. Why would I deface it?
     
  14. eclipsis

    eclipsis Member

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    While you're 100% right about the process, I wouldn't recommend a novice to wet sand their car. It is incredibly easy for someone new to wet sanding to sand too much and go right through the clear to the color coat. If you're really intent on doing this, I'd practice on a junker so you don't mind messing up. But starting out on a Tesla? I wouldn't.

     
  15. Tacket

    Tacket Member

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    ^^agreed. Go to a junk yard and get some scrap fender to test this on first.

    With that being said, I was amazed at what my detailer was able to do with touch up paint and wet sanding. I was almost SURE I was going to need a repaint. You can still tell up close, but you'd really have to be looking for it to notice the touch up work.
     
  16. Electric700

    Electric700 Member

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    Try taking it to a professional detailer and see what they can do. If that doesn't work, try a polishing compound such as this one: Turtlewax Polishing Compound (10.5 oz.) T241A: Choose the best Rubbing/Polishing Compound at Advance Auto Parts

    Worst case, send a request for touch-up paint that will match your car's color to your Tesla SC, then follow these instructions:


    1. Test the color match, and practice. Before painting your car, try the auto paint on another surface like a metal can or an old picture to test the match. Let it dry, and if it looks good, your are ready to start the scratch repair.
    2. Choose good painting conditions. For best scratch repair results, find a place (like your garage) that has low humidity, is not in direct sunlight, and is at least 50°F for brush cap bottles and paint pens, and at least 70°F for car spray paint.
    3. Prepare your car. Clean the auto paint area you want to touch up using soap or wax and grease remover. If your auto paint is rusty, remove all traces of rust with 220 grit sandpaper or a wire brush, and apply Rust Away (I don't think this applies in your case).
    4. Apply primer to any place where bare metal or plastic is showing. Use very thin coats of primer and let it dry overnight. Never use enamel primer.
    5. Apply a basecoat of your paint color. This is the actual auto paint color you requested to fix your car scratch. Apply several thin coats to get the level of the repaired scratch to match the level of the surrounding car paint. Let it dry overnight.
    6. Apply clearcoat to your auto paint. Apply several thin layers of clear coat, letting it dry between coats (about 10-20 mins). Be careful when applying clearcoat. You need to float it over the basecoat. Clearcoat acts like a solvent and any pressure applied will remove the basecoat.
    7. Use rubbing compound to make it shine. Wait at least three days, then apply rubbing compound to the the entire area of car paint you fixed. This will make it smooth and shiny. Wait at least 30 days before waxing.
     
  17. MoeMistry

    MoeMistry Local Vendor - SoCal

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    A few passes with 400 grit, you can see the nice aluminum metal underneath the paint.

    Without a proper paint meter, plenty of experience, I would highly detract any DIYer to do this. We as pros take caution when doing wetsanding, I cannot imagine how a DIYer who doesn't do this for a living would have great success.

    As for most detailer suck, well, that's such an open-ended remark, I'll refrain from saying too much. In any industry, there are those that are respected, and those that are more in it for the money and lack the skills. A competent and experienced detailer will get you much better results than a body shop. Body shops are not detailers, as a detailer could not repair a collision damage.
     
  18. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    Someone keyed mine yesterday but only a 3" scratch and a deep one. I have some matching paint I tried to fill in with. I then lightly wet sanded with 1000 grit and sanding block. I then had to buff about 15 min with polishing compound and another 5 with buffing compound. It is much better but far from perfect. As others have said it is not for the feint of heart. But I am also far from a professional.
     
  19. AmpedRealtor

    AmpedRealtor Active Member

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    Any chance that parking lot has surveillance cameras? If so, they might have caught the perpetrator on video. Wouldn't that be sweet revenge?
     
  20. blaz

    blaz Member

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    Unfortunately I couldn't see any cameras in the vicinity of my car. The parking garage is so large (6 city blocks total, 3 underground levels) that I doubt they have cameras anywhere but the entrances. I'm now parking in a different part of the garage, hoping that the keying was opportunistic (i.e. the person was on their way to their car and came across mine) rather than someone whose past time is seeking out Teslas to deface.

    I do have a dashcam, but I haven't set it up to record video when parked (the required modifications to the car are a bit more involved than what I was comfortable doing myself). If it had been running I might have been able to see the perpetrator if they happened to walk in front of the car after keying it. Oh well.
     

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