How to patch car paint

Written by tiffany bennett
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How to patch car paint
Restore your car's shiny new finish by fixing scratches and chips yourself. (a car in a car show image by Gary from

Repairing your car's paint chips yourself will not only help restore your car's attractive finish, but will save you a big chunk of cash along the way. While severe damage to the paint will probably require professional work, most smaller chips can be easily fixed at home. Just purchase a few supplies and set aside a day when you'll have plenty of time to wait for multiple layers of paint to dry.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Auto paint (matched to your car's colour)
  • Primer
  • Denatured alcohol
  • 2000 grit sanding block
  • 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper
  • Round wooden toothpicks
  • Cotton cloths
  • New pencils

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  1. 1

    Wash and dry your car thoroughly, especially around the areas you plan to repaint. Use soapy water and a soft cloth to wipe each chipped area.

  2. 2

    Use a cloth to apply a few drops of polishing compound to the chipped area. Don't rub the cloth back and forth more than a few times, as this may cause the surrounding finish to look cloudy.

  3. 3

    Use a toothpick to gently poke the paint surrounding the chip. If the paint appears loose, remove any paint that easily flakes off so that touch-up paint will adhere well.

  4. 4

    Sand any rusted chips with a small piece of 600 grit sandpaper. Once the rust has been removed, gently sand about 1/4 inch of the paint surrounding the chip. For especially small areas, you may want to glue a small piece of sandpaper to the eraser end of an unused pencil so that you can achieve the precision that you need.

  5. 5

    Wipe each chip with denatured alcohol and a soft cloth. This will remove any surrounding dirt and oils.

  6. 6

    Apply primer to the area with a toothpick or artist's brush. Be careful to apply only a very thin layer of primer. Apply a second coat after the first one has dried for two hours. If done right, the primed area should still be noticeably lower than the surrounding paint. Allow the primer to dry for two hours again. (If the old primer is still intact, you may skip this step altogether.)

  7. 7

    Apply touch-up paint in the same way that you applied the primer. Remember, use only thin layers of paint. It should take several cycles of painting and drying before the newly painted chip is level with the surrounding area. You will know you are finished when the fresh paint bulges slightly above the surrounding paint.

  8. 8

    Give the paint at least one week to dry fully.

  9. 9

    Soak a block of 2000 grit sandpaper in water for one day. Use the block to carefully sand and smooth the painted area until it is level and blends well with the rest of the paint.

  10. 10

    Clean the area and apply a glaze over the fresh paint.

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