How do I Match Exterior Car Touch-Up Paint?

Written by lindsey fisher
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How do I Match Exterior Car Touch-Up Paint?
Custom paint colours and graphics may be harder to match for touch-up paint than original factory painted vehicles. (car wheel image by Tammy Mobley from

Rock chips, door dings and scrapes on your car's exterior are just a few reasons to need touch-up paint for your vehicle. But finding the right touch-up paint that matches your car can sometimes be a challenge since there are so many different colours of cars. If your car is an original factory colour, the hunt for matching touch-up paint may be as easy as going to your local parts store, or even Walmart. If it's a custom colour, or your car has been repainted, the search for touch-up paint that matches could be more difficult.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • car
  • access to an automotive parts store

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    Matching your car's exterior for touch-up paint

  1. 1

    Take your car to your local auto parts store. Stores like Auto Zone and Advanced Auto Parts sell touch-up paint. If your car is the original colour, an auto parts store is going to be the best place to look for your factory colour. If you don't know if your car's been repainted, going to a parts store is a good place to start because they will usually have the knowledge to tell you if your car came in its paint colour originally.

  2. 2

    Check the paint section of the store which usually stocks interior paint, engine enamel and touch-up paint. Pick out the touch-up paint that is made for the make of your vehicle. Different car manufacturers use different tints of colours for their car paint. While basic colours like black and white may seem easy to match, there are different shades of these colours that are used on different vehicle makes. To make sure you have the best match to your car's paint, going with the same manufacturer of car paint is your best bet.

  3. 3

    Contact your car dealer or car manufacturer's service office to find out if there is a specific paint order number, parts number or paint name for you car model. It might be possible order the touch-up paint you need directly from your car dealership or car manufacturer. You can also find car paint vendors online (see Resources).

  4. 4

    Check the touch-up paint next to your car. Most parts stores will let you take the touch-up paint out to put up next to your car's paint to see if it matches. Colours can look very different out in the sun than they do in the store. If the colour doesn't match, chose a different shade that may work better. Match the paint until you find the best fit.

Tips and warnings

  • If your car hasn't been repainted, another way to match touch-up paint is to look up the VIN for your car and get the paint code. You can order paint by this number online or through your local dealership.
  • Contact the place that painted your car if it's been repainted for touch-up paint. Especially for custom colours, the painters may be your best luck at matching your car's colour.
  • Some car paint may be impossible to match, especially if it were repainted in a custom colour. To get the best match, go to a store or car painting company specialising in automotive paint and they can photo match your car's paint colour as best as possible.
  • Due to fading over time, touch up paint may not match exactly even with factory colours. Pick the touch-up paint that best matches. If it is used sparingly, touch up paint will not be easily spotted even if it's a slightly different shade.

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