fixing a keyed car

Fixing a Keyed Car – The Ultimate DIY Guide

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Hello and welcome to yet another helpful (we hope!) post. Many of you asked us to provide some tips on fixing a keyed car. We know you had to wait a bit but here it goes, with nothing but actionable advice on how to fix a keyed car!

Keyed Car Repair Guide

This always happens unexpectedly. Like when it’s 5 pm on a Friday and you finished a week’s work, you say goodbye to your officemates and start strutting your way to the parking lot excited for the weekend ahead. But once you got to your car, you noticed something…

keyed black carYour car got keyed! Ooops…

Didn’t hear that phrase before?

Car keying is a term developed from the fact that a key or the pointy end of a key is often used to scratch and damage a car’s coating.

Needless to say, it is a form of vandalism and no one should ever do it to someone else’s possession.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix to the keyed car problem and depending on the damage, you can do it all by yourself using household items.

But if it’s the worst kind of keying then you can visit your local auto repair shop for it.

How to fix a keyed car – step by step:

  1. Clean
  2. Tape
  3. Sand
  4. Polish
  5. Wax

Things you’ll need:

  • Soapy water
  • Sandpapers
  • Polish
  • Wax
  • Towel (Microfiber)
  • Tape

Simple enough right? Now let’s get to it.

Fixing a Keyed Car – 5 Steps

  1. Clean the damaged area

    The first thing you got to do is to clean the scratched area. This is to make sure that there is no debris or any other elements on the scratch that may further damage your car’s coating.

    keyed car repair tape cleanUse your soapy water to make sure to clean it thoroughly. A simple soap and water solution should do the trick, but you can also consider using dedicated car cleaners.

    After cleaning, make sure to dry the area with your microfiber towel to get ready for the next step.

  2. Tape the area

    We don’t mean to cover it with tape, what we mean is that we’ll put a tape in parallel to the keyed surface covering its entire length.

    Put a tape about half an inch on each side of the scratch to mark it and make sure we don’t lose sight of where it is while we are on the process of fixing it later on.

    PRO TIP: Use a painter’s or masking tape if possible

    Now that you’ve marked it then we can start the actual fix.

  3. Sandpaper time

    Depending on the depth of the scratch, you can start with a 3000 grit sandpaper, or if it’s not that worse then proceed with your 5000 grit sandpaper.

    PRO TIP: The higher the sandpaper grit the finer it is because of the smaller grains, so the less abrasive it is.

    how to fix a keyed car Sanding
    Use 3000 to 5000 grit sandpaper.

    Before you start sanding the damaged area make sure to spray it with the soapy water again, and also spray your sandpaper with it too. You’re going to want to sand perpendicular to the length of the scratch. 

    If it’s a horizontal scratch then sand with an up and down motion.

    Spray and sand as needed. Keep sanding with your 3000 grit sandpaper until once wiped the scratch is no longer visible.

    Once it’s gone, start sanding with your 5000 grit sandpaper until it all smoothens out. We don’t want to rush this step all right? Make sure to take your time, maybe 15 seconds interval from sanding to checking (wiping dry) until the damage is no longer visible.

    Now if you’re certain that it’s gone, we want to proceed to the next step to recreate the glow of your car like nothing’s happened.

  4. Polish

    After you sand and clean the now fixed surface dry, you will notice that there’s haze forming on the area. Don’t worry we’ll help you fix it too.

    Go get your polish and another clean microfiber towel and apply. Make sure to apply an appropriate amount of polish and apply in a circular motion to evenly polish the surface.

    Apply as needed until the surface area looks good as new until your reflection is as clear as it can be.

    Using dual-action polisher or orbital buffer power tools also tend to yield good results. Just keep in mind to be careful and sensitive.

  5. Waxing

    A very simple yet important step of the process. Make sure you won’t forget to apply wax on the keyed area to protect your clear coat. Give it that extra layer of protection.

    Car keying repair wax

Now, it’s important to take note that the steps above are for when the damage is just on the clear coat layer. But what if it’s deeper?  What if the person who did this had more pent up anger that we’d initially thought? Don’t worry, we’ll discuss it further and make sure to fix that keyed black car (it’s my favorite color).

PRO TIP: In order to find out the extent of the damage, wet the scratched area and if it goes away then that’s only a clear coat problem. If it doesn’t disappear then the problem is deeper than first thought so read on for additional tips!

We would like to discuss your car’s coating system just to make sure that we are on the same page.

Car Paint Layers:

  1. Primer
  2. Base Coat (Color)
  3. Clear coat
  4. Wax

A primer is a paint-like substance that’s applied to metal that’s usually freshly sanded.

Some of the well-known and best primer for automotive brands are:

  • Rust-Oleum 260510
  • VHT FP101
  • Dupli-color CP199
  • Dupli-color EBPR00310
  • Seymour 20-1675 PBE Pro primer
Base Coat (color)

The base coat is the layer immediately on top of the primer and the layer that gives your car its color.

Best base coat brands:

  • Performix Plasti Dip Black Car Paint
  • Dupli-color Black single car Paint
  • CRC all Purpose enamel Car Spray Car Paint
Clear Coat

The clear coat is basically a clear resin that’s applied over a colored resin. It makes your car look shinier, glossier, makes the color look deeper but among its effects is that it provides additional coat protection from ultraviolet rays that causes paint to fade in time.

Best clear coat brands:

  • USC Spray Max
  • Dupli-color Clear automotive clear coat
  • Speedokote Automotive Fast dry
  • Dupli-color paint shop finish system Clear coat
  • KBS coatings Diamond finish clear coat

Your car’s wax layer is essentially your protective layer between your car’s clear coat and any other elements that it might come in contact with. It’s basically an additional layer of protection from UV rays, nasty stuff in the air and water.

Best car wax brands:

  • Meguiar’s Ultimate liquid wax
  • Carguys Hybrid wax
  • Turtle wax Wax
  • Collinite Auto wax
  • Adam’s polishes Battery Car wax

Now that we have an understanding of the different layers of your car’s coating, we’ll discuss how to fix a keyed car when damage is deeper than the clear coating.

  • Apply Primer

    If it’s deep, then it may have reached your car’s primer layer, then all you have to do is just apply the primer yourself.
    Apply at least two thin coats of the primer, leaving enough time for each application to dry maybe about 20 minutes.

  • Apply paint

    Next is a little bit of retouching of your car’s paint. Whether you prefer to spray paint or in this case use a brush for the application.
    Make sure to check on the exact color of your car. Apply several thin coats using a steady side to side motion. Make to give enough time to dry.

You can go back to polishing and waxing once you’re done with these steps.

Keyed Car Repair Cost

When opting to get pro help, a keyed car repair cost is around $150 to $1500. Take note that this is all based on the extent of the damage to your car’s coating.

That’s from clear coat replacement to primer layer level damage.

There are tons of DIY methods on how to fix a keyed car on the internet and if you think you can handle it, then it shouldn’t be that complicated.

Fixing Keyed Black Car (DIY):

Tools and Resources Needed – More Recommendations

As an additional guide, we’ll give you recommendations on some of the best brands of the things you’ll use on this process:

Sandpaper brands:

  • 120 to 3000 assorted Grit sandpaper
  • Mirka Bulldog Gold
  • Dura-Gold Premium
  • 3M Aluminum Oxide Sandpaper
  • Wet dry Sandpaper

Car polish brands:

  • Carguys Premium Hybrid
  • Meguiar’s Plastx
  • Griot’s Garage
  • Meguiar’s ultimate polish
  • HG High Definition Speed all in one

Additional Hacks?

Use toothpaste. Yes toothpaste, if you don’t have time to do the fixes required yet but then the damage is obvious on your car, use toothpaste for a temporary fix.

Toothpaste should be able to fill in space or the scratched surface just up until you’ll have the time to use this DIY guide or get it fixed by a professional.

You can also use duct tape. Another temporary fix just to make it less visible for that date tonight.

Fixing a Keyed Car – Wrapping Up

Good job! Now your car is shiny as new.

We hope that our guide for fixing a keyed car has helped you save time, energy, and hassle. Thanks again for reading on and for always trusting for all of your car needs.


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