Touching up car scratches is all about preparation

Plus: Quick fix to secure floor mats

By John Paul
December 7, 2010

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

Q. I was cleaning sap off my car and used “Goof Off” but also used a straight-edge razor to get some of the stubborn sap off. When I did this I nicked and scratched the paint on the car. It is a 2009 Toyota Camry. I spoke to my dealer and they said to bring it in but I am afraid of what it will cost. I’m on a budget and every penny counts. Can I touch it up myself?

A. You can certainly try touching up the damaged areas. But just like painting at home, it is all about the preparation. You will need to sand the affected area, paint it, and then apply a clear coat over the new paint. I have seen great results and others that were worse than the scratch. I have seen a product called Dr. ColorChip that has received good reviews. The product claims little preparation and clear coating the repaired area is not necessary.

Q. I have a 2006 Hyundai Azera Limited. Every once in a while (perhaps once in 5-6 weeks) when applying the brakes I get a "crunching" and "grinding" sound and then when releasing the brake pedal and driving I get a "flapping" sound. This happens three or four times during the drive and then goes away. I don't hear it again for weeks at a time. I took it to two Hyundai dealers and after checking the brakes I was assured by both that the brakes were fine. When test driving the car neither dealer could replicate the noise. Any ideas?

A. Even though the dealers checked the brake condition they may have overlooked the brake calipers. A fairly common issue with some Hyundai models is a buildup of rust that causes a crunching noise. The repair involves removing the brake calipers and cleaning surfaces with a wire brush and applying specially formulated brake grease.

Q. I have a 2004 Toyota Camry with 50,000 miles on it. At 1,166 miles, the eyelet on the front driver-side carpet let go. The same eyelet just recently broke away and the Toyota technical representative refuses to take care of it now. To me this is definitely a safety issue. I spoke with an automotive upholsterer and they feel Toyota should replace the mat on a goodwill repair. Any suggestions for me?

A. I understand your concern considering the issues of other model year Toyota products and gas pedal entrapment. Your Camry was not involved in the recall and considering it is six years old and well out of warranty it is easy to see why Toyota is saying no to your request. Since you are concerned about the mat sliding over the gas pedal perhaps you could fabricate a hold-down with a plastic wire-tie. You would make two small holes in the mat and loop it around the anchor-hook to prevent the mat from sliding.

Q. I recently had some body damage repaired on my car. Once the car was fixed, the fan belt began making noise. I had the belt replaced and there is still some noise. The accident was minor. Do you think it is possible something was bent and not repaired properly? 

A. Some cars today are very fussy about pulley alignment. If one pulley is even off, even by a few millimeters, the belt could make noise. I would return to the shop to have them remove the belt and check every pulley for proper alignment. I was recently at a dealership and they were using a laser-guide to line up the pulleys on a vehicle. Although this seems a bit excessive, apparently it was necessary.

John Paul is the public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. He can be reached at or on Twitter @johnfpaul.