Dear Tom and Ray:
My dear, beloved 15-year-old son offered to wash my 2008 Toyota Sequoia (silver). Of course, I jumped at this surprising and welcome offer. After about 30 minutes, I went to check on his progress, and the little darling was using a scourer to clean the car! You know, those little kitchen scouring pads that have a sponge on one side and a green scourer on the other. He had used this scourer on the driver's side and the hood. Needless to say, I now have an array of scratches in various patterns. I managed to refrain from ripping his sweet head off of his body, and calmly pointed out the fault. Now, how do I remove these scratches? I have tried Scratch Doctor and Turtle Wax Compound, to no good effect. HELP!
Tom: You need to visit a body shop, Ian.
Ray: Most cars have two coats of paint: a colored undercoat, and then a clear coat on top. In the worst-case scenario, your little sweetheart sanded through the clear coat and into the undercoat. In that case, you might want to just get used to the scratches. Because you'll have to dock his allowance though graduate school to ever have a chance of recouping the cost of a paint job from him.
Tom: If he just scratched the clear top coat, then chances are a body shop can buff out the scratches for you. They've got professional buffing equipment that they'll use with an abrasive compound, and they'll probably have better luck than you did with Turtle Wax and your right arm.
Ray: But if it's really bad, they may need to sand the car down and repaint both layers. That'll cost you thousands of dollars.
Tom: You also might want to check with your car insurance and homeowner's insurance providers. It's possible that this sort of "accident" is covered by one of those policies.
Ray: But if not -- and if the scratches don't buff out -- I'd just learn to live with them. Look on the bright side: Every time you walk up to the car, you'll be reminded of your wonderful, loving child. Even if the reminder starts with "That rotten little, no-good ..."
(Car Talk is a nationally syndicated column by automotive experts (and brothers) Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Write to them at the Car Talk Web site.)