Paint chips take a real toll on a car. No matter how careful you are, your car is bound to get a chip from a wayward shopping cart, a door ding, or gravel flying low across the car. It seems that modern paint is not only expensive but more subject to chips, as many new car makers seem to skimp on the thickness of their paints. But chip repair is easy to do.
To get a quality DIY repair you need to focus on two P’s – Preparation and Paint. Without sufficient attention to these two prime areas, your chip repair will be less than successful.
Paint Chip Preparation
First, you should evaluate the paint chip or scratch and see what is involved. Did the scratch go all the way to bare metal or is the body piece even made with metal? If your fingernail can catch on the chip or scratch you have some prep work to do. Depending on the severity you need to take super fine sandpaper (1000-1500 grit wet) and sand those edges so they are smooth. This will make the paint easier to apply and blend in with the original paint.
A good quality car wash should be applied around the affected areas. That should remove any surface contaminants. Be sure and remove all existing waxes or sealants by using some isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to remove any car chemicals on the chip area.
Let the area dry and get it in good lighting so you can see what you are doing
Paint for Paint Chip Repair
You need to make sure that your new paint will match the existing paint. If your car has never been repainted and you bought it new, you should have the listing of what the color and the paint code (a string of letters and numbers) is. If not, look inside of your glove box and see if the information is printed there. As a last resort, your dealership should be able to help you out.
If the car has been re-painted hopefully the painter can tell you the paint code that he “used”. But even if armed with a code, there is no guarantee that he mixed it right. A different vendor or batch of paint can still have differences.
Now you have several choices where you can get your paint. A regular auto paint supply shop could mix up a quantity but they may have a large minimum amount for an order. Plus remember these guys are more apt to make paint up in large volumes, so when you ask for a small 2-ounce bottle of paint they may lack the precise dispensers for such a small quantity. One drop too much may make a huge difference in the final look.
I would suggest that you get your paint from AutomotiveTouchUp. They are a national company that specializes in the rapid shipment of consumer-friendly amounts. They also have advice on their website if you want to review the repair process. With the paint in hand, it is now time to do the touch-up.
Paint Chip Repair
Think small, very small. Rather than apply a large glob of paint your aim is to sneak up on the repair by applying small amounts and let it dry before applying a second level. The first attempt should get a good portion of the chip covered with each additional layer building up to the final effort.
Let the paint thoroughly dry. At this point, you would apply a clear coat if applicable. Let dry again and then use a small amount of rubbing compound to get that paint to shine. Let dry some more. Frankly, for a small job, the paint is not going to emit a lot of fumes (gassing) and you could apply a small amount of wax. If you spray can’d a large panel you will want to let the paint cure for at least one month before applying any wax or sealant. If you can smell “new” paint still, don’t wax.
With a little time and effort, you can get a great chip repair. Remember the two P’s and take your time. Use quality paint and tools and you will be surprised at the results.
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