How To Touch Up Car Paint

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No matter how careful a person is when driving, the paint on their car will occasionally suffer some damage. That damage can come in the form of chips and scratches, which require the car’s paint to be retouched.

In this article, we explore the essentials of touching up vehicle paint to restore your vehicle’s shiny exterior.

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Assessing Your Car’s Chip Or Scratch

Understanding the differences between automotive chips and scratches is crucial before you begin. 

There are three types of scratches that a vehicle might experience:

  • Clear Coat Scratch: Only affects the thin layer of clear coat that protects the car’s exterior from the environment. This type only affects the surface and will not cause any rust to form.
  • Primer Scratch: Deep enough to affect the primer layer and will expose the car’s body to rust. This type of scratch must be touched up quickly. This process may also involve touching up the entire panel to ensure that the paint repair looks even when completed.
  • Paint Scratch: These deeper scratches cut past the clear coat and primer to expose the car’s bare metal. Like the previous type, this one can also cause rust to form very quickly.

On the other hand, a chip is small but cuts deep enough to remove a chunk (or ‘chip’) of the colour.

Minor scratches and chips are easy enough to touch up at home. However, you will be better off going to a professional body shop for paint repair if:

  • If the scratches, chips and rust are too extensive to repair using DIY tools and supplies
  • If you’re concerned about preserving the car’s value
  • If you want the best results possible, guaranteed

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Car Paint Safety

Safety must always be your top priority throughout this process. Here are a few quick safety tips to follow:

  • Work in a ventilated space: Working inside your closed garage will not be an option for this particular car repair. To prevent unnecessary exposure to fumes, be sure to touch up your vehicle outdoors.
  • Use a mask and cover up: Fumes are harmful even outdoors, which is why anyone who wants to touch up their car needs to mask up. Plus, wear long sleeves, gloves, and pants to cover up any exposed skin.

Required Tools And Parts

The repair tools and parts you will need to touch up your car paint will depend on the extent of the damage. However, some of the basics include:

  • Sandpaper and brush: Sanding (with automotive sandpaper) thoroughly and then brushing are necessary to remove any dirt, debris, or rust built up in the gap and prepare the surface to be touched up.
  • Primer: Having completed the sanding, you will then need to apply primer to ensure that the touch-up paint will stick to the surface correctly.
  • Touch up paint: Find a bottle of touch-up paint that matches your vehicle’s paint colour as closely as possible, and test it to be sure. A pen is ideal for minor damage. But for larger sections, you can use an aerosol version or a spray gun to work more efficiently.
  • Polish: Lastly, a small amount of polish will go a long way to making your touched-up car paint look clean and smooth.

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Preparing Your Paint For Touch Up

The preparation stage prior to painting can be boiled down to three steps: clean, sand, and prime.

First, clean the area with regular vehicle soap and a brush to remove any dirt or dust that might have found its way into the scratches. You can also use automotive grease remover if necessary.

Let the surface dry thoroughly, then sand it with fine-grit sandpaper and use a brush to remove any rust that might have formed in the scratches.

Lastly, apply primer to the surface so that any paint you apply will stick to the surface easily.

Process For Touching Up Car Paint

After applying the primer, you can then begin to apply the paint. You can do this by applying several thin coats until the level matches that of the rest of the panel you’re painting.

When you are satisfied with the touch-up, leave the paint to dry overnight for best results.

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Tips For Car Paint Touch Up Success

For the best paint repair, always make sure that you purchase the same paint colour to match the rest of your car. That way, the touch up will blend in seamlessly with the rest of the vehicle, rather than standing out like a sore thumb.

To be sure, practice with the new paint on a small spot first before applying all of it to the damaged area.

When you have completed the touch-up and let the paint coats dry overnight, clean, wax and polish the vehicle to eliminate any imperfections.


How Do You Apply Touch Up Paint?

You can apply the touch-up paint using a paint pen for minor scratches. However, to apply paint on large sections, a brush or paint spray gun will be more efficient.

How Do You Blend Touch Up Paint On A Car?

To make your touch up paint blend with the rest of the vehicle, you can wet sand the surface to first make it perfectly level. Then, apply wax and do a little polishing.

Does Car Touch Up Paint Work?

Yes, it does! Just make sure the touch-up paint colour matches the rest of the vehicle’s paint as closely as possible.

How Much Does It Cost To Get Car Paint Touched Up?

The cost to touch up your car paint depends on the depth and length of the damage. However, to repair severe damage can cost around $1,000 or more in Australia.
Meanwhile, you can repair minor damage with basic DIY car paint repair kits that cost around $70. All you have to do is follow the directions on the packaging.

Can You Buy Touch Up Paint From a Dealership?

Yes, you can buy touch up paint directly from the dealership. On the plus side, dealerships are likely to know the precise paint code to match what you need. 
Still, they might not offer the best touch up paint brands available on the market.

Does Car Touch Up Paint Wash Off?

No, car touch up paint will not wash off once you let it dry completely.

Does Touch Up Paint Need Primer?

Yes, primer is necessary to ensure that the touch-up paint sticks to the metal surface correctly.
Touch up paint on a vehicle can wet sand the surface to make it perfectly level, then apply wax and do a little polishing.