This pains me to say this! Realistically it is very unlikely we can perfectly protect our daily driven vehicles well enough to keep our paint 100% pristine. While putting 20 to 40 thousand miles on a car it may experience unavoidable environmental debris, human errors, and accidental or malicious damage from others. This does not mean we are incapable of severely reducing the damage I observe frequently.
To answer the question, “where do these scratches come from?”, I will summarize 3 categories of causes.
Where You Put Your Body And Objects
I will start with what may initially be obvious. Leaning on your car is very bad. But putting objects on your car is just as bad. I cannot tell you how many stories I have heard from detailers asked to put in hours chasing scratches, ultimately for returning customers to put coffee cups, purses and checkbooks of the same area of the car. Often a booking and inspection involves the uttering of this phrase, “I don’t know where these scratches come from.” They come from contact! I had someone in for a major paint correction put a cup on top of his car (his scratched-up paint). I believe my immediate words were, “don’t ever do that again.”
Many people also unintentionally brush up against their car. When detailing an SUV, where you have to reach when washing a car, you might be running your belt across your car. This is something often subtle, that we are often not consciously aware of. If reaching the roof of your vehicle is a challenge, purchasing a detailing microfiber apron is an option. You will want to be careful regardless and some marring of the finish may occur. But accidentally touching your paint with a microfiber apron is a better alternative to touching your paint with your belt buckle or cloth pants that house keys.
It is also okay to set boundaries with people in your life!
Keep the gas cap from scratching your paint.
You likely have an attachment or component (circled in the picture below) that will keep your gas cap stable.
You may think my focus here is reminding everyone to pick up their feet. That is important, but there are other things that are not so obvious that can easily be avoided.
We put so much emphasis on pampering paint while recklessly wiping doorjambs which is a painted surface. It is also a surface that you usually cannot fix deeper scratches, because that is where paint is extremely thin.
I may not use my best (Eagle Edgeless) towels, but I will still use a plush towel. Minx are my dedicated doorjamb microfiber towels.
Even when the surface is still wet, I will usually use at least a waterless wash like Poorboys Spray And Wipe or Wolfgang Uber Rinseless. If the area is really dirty a rinseless wash or even foam or car soap followed by rinsing with a wet microfiber.