Your car's paint job can look beautiful when in good condition, but once a scratch or chip appears, that beautiful paint job is no longer so beautiful, especially if there's a nice, light dent accompanying it. You can do what you can to avoid grocery cart dings, and sometimes you can't avoid small dents from gravel and pebbles tossed up by tires while driving. But there are other causes of scratches and chips that you can control. The problem is that you might not realize these causes are a problem to begin with, especially because they're so common in everyday life.
The Foam Brush at a Self-Service Car Wash
When you take your car to a self-service car wash – the type where you park in a bay and spray the car with water and soap from those nozzles connected to the wall – you have an option to use a foam brush. After soaping up the car, you lightly scrub the vehicle with the brush as it oozes foamy soap from a central nozzle. However, these brushes can become caked with dirt and gravel. That ends up scratching your paint.
You can avoid this in two ways. One is to not use the brush, but that's not a popular option for people whose cars get very dirty. The other is to give the brush itself a blast with water from the high-pressure nozzle before using it. When you're using the high-pressure soap or rinse function after the initial soaping/pre-soaking, give the brush a blast for a few seconds. That helps wash away grit.
That Time You Wiped Dirt off Your Car When the Car Was Dry
If you tried dusting off your car by wiping it when the car was dry, you could have scratched the paint or left chips. That's because the dirt could have contained grit that scratched the paint as you dragged it off the car. This is why you want to hose down the car first before trying to do any real cleaning on it; that will wash grit away.
That Box You Set on the Trunk for a Minute
It's normal to set a box or bag on the trunk while you look for your car keys or what have you, but when you remove the box, are you pulling it off the trunk and then holding it, or are you picking it straight up? If you pull the box first along the surface of the trunk, and there are staples at the bottom, that ends up scratching and potentially denting the paint and trunk surface. Even if there aren't staples, if you had the box on the ground at one point, it can pick up grit that then gets to scratch your car paint when you move the box.
You can get paint scratches and chips, and those dents, repaired at an auto body repair shop.