How To Fix Paint Chips On Your Car (3 Easy Ways)
A rock hit the fender or an unruly kid keyed your car – chipped paint is the last thing a car owner wants. We’ll tell you how to fix paint chips on a car with the least effort. You can save the huge expenditure that the paint shop will cost you. Let’s see how it’s done.
Before we get into removing paint chips from a car, we need to understand the makeup of a car’s paint and the types of paint damage.
What Makes Up the Paint On Your Car?
The paint on your car is not like the paint on your room’s walls. It is made up of several layers. Each one of them has its function. Here’s a brief explanation of the paint of a typical road car. You need to know this before learning how to repair chipped paint on your car.
- The Primer is the first layer of paint that goes on to the body panels of your car. It is light grey. It smoothens the surface of the metal and provides a base for the color coat to stick. It also acts as an anti-rust agent.
- The Color Coat is the “paint” of your car that you can see. There can be up to 5 coats of the color coat to make the paint last longer.
- The Clear Coat goes on top of the color coat. It protects the paint underneath and gives it a shine.
- A Ceramic Coat can be found on some cars. It is meant to make the paint hydrophobic, and dust and mud resistant.
What are the Types of Paint Damage that You Can Repair at Home?
DISCLAIMER: These are just some tips that can help you do minor repairs on your car. The actual results will depend on your understanding and execution of the steps. If you are not experienced in this type of work or think that you might not be able to do it the right way, get the help of a professional.
There are three types of paint chipping/damage that you can tackle as a DIY project. We highly recommend you get professional help if the problem is beyond this. These issues include:
Small Paint Chips Caused by Stones
This is probably the most common type of paint damage. This is caused by the rocks that fly off the wheels of a leading car or truck. These can hit your car with substantial force and can result in localized yet intense damage to the car’s paint. You can tackle these paint chips at home.
Scratches on the Clear Coat
If you happen to scratch your car just slightly, but the color of the paint is intact, you can very easily fix it. Remember the clear coat we talked about? These scratches only affect that and the actual “paint” of your car is hopefully not damaged.
If your bumper or any other part of your car rubs against another car, the paint of the other car can be transferred to your car. This looks pretty bad, but it is the easiest to fix.
In this post, we’ll be focusing on repairing chipped paint.
Before we move on to discussing how to repair stone chips on car paint, there are some things that you need to steer clear of when fixing the paint on a car. Here’s when you DO NOT want to make paint repair a DIY thing.
When Is It Not A Good Idea to Fix Damaged Car Paint on Your Own?
It is tempting to cut the visit to the body shop and save money doing car paint chip repairs at home. However, there are cases where this can do more harm than good. If you have any of the following, just go to a professional and DO NOT do it at home.
- If your paint has a large number of chips on it.
- If the paint on the car has started to peel off at multiple locations.
- If rust is appearing under the damaged paint.
- If the sheet metal under the paint has been exposed.
As a general principle, rust is the worst enemy of sheet metal as well as the paint of your car. If you see it, run for cover.
Now on to actual paint correction.
How to Repair Chipped Paint on Your Car
Chipped car paint on a car can be restored using any one of the following methods.
1. The Professional Method
We are starting with the hardest method and will move on to easier ones. This is the method the professionals will use if you take the car to a paint shop. Here’s how it works:
You’ll need the following to repair a car’s paint with this method:
- Sandpapers 300, 600, 1000, and 3000 grit
- Soapy water
- Rubbing alcohol
- Latex gloves
- Basecoat or primer
- Spray paint with the exact color code of your car
- A spray can of clear coat
How To Repair Stone Chips On Metallic Paint
- The first step is cleaning the paint. Start with soapy water and a low-lint cloth. After that, use the rubbing alcohol to wipe off any oil or dirt from the surface you are fixing. You need to clean an approximately 6-inch radius area around the chip you are fixing.
- The next step is to sand the area down. Depending on the size and intensity of the impact, start with coarse sandpaper and move to a finer one. (The higher the grit number the finer it is). Sand the area down to the bare metal. Then use the 3,000 grit sandpaper to smoothen it.
- Apply a coat of the primer and let it dry. When it dries, wet the area with soapy water and rub it down with the 3,000 grit sandpaper to even the primer.
- Now it is time to paint. You need to make sure you don’t paint the surroundings or any plastic components. Cover the surroundings of the damaged area with masking tape. Spray a thin layer of paint on the affected area. It is a good idea to practice spraying on a sheet of cardboard first. Spray from a distance of 10 to 12 inches and keep your hand moving.
- You need to repeat the painting step at least 3 times. Let the paint dry after every coat and then apply the next.
- The next step is to apply the clear coat. Apply 2 thin coats of it to the dried paint.
That’s a pretty technical method and has a number of steps that can go wrong. If you want to go the easy way, this next method is for you.
2. The Paint Pen Method
If you want to go the easy way, this is the method for you. Here’s how it works.
- See the paint code on your car’s door jam and buy a paint pen for the color.
- Wipe the affected area off with generous amounts of rubbing alcohol.
- Fill in the damaged paint with the paint pen and the scar on the paint will be gone.
- This only works for really tiny chips.
- The paint will not be totally fixed, and the defect will appear when looked at closely.
- There is a substantial possibility of leaving rust in the affected area which can lead to rust propagation.
- Paint pens are not available for all colors.
If you want the level of control and liberty offered by the professional method and are not willing to put in that much of an effort, there’s another method. It combines somewhat the best of both worlds.
3. DIY Paint Repair Kits
Walk into a local parts store and get a paint repair kit. These kits come with everything you need to fix the paint on your car and all the instructions. There’s just one piece of advice when using these kits – two actually:
- Do not go for the cheapest one.
- Do not try to improvise; follow the instructions given on the kit closely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can car paint be fixed at home?
Yes, if the damage is small and you can find the paint for your car, you can fix it at home.
Can a car be painted with a brush?
Yes, if the affected area is very small, you can paint it with a small brush. You’ll have to sand it down to make it one with the paint of the rest of the car.
What is the job of the clear coat?
The clear coat on a car’s paint provides scratch resistance to the paint and makes it shine more.
Can rust damage the paint of a car?
Yes, if rust gets under the paint at one point, it can propagate to the whole body panel.
Which sandpaper is the best for car paint?
It depends on what you are using it for. If you are sanding the damaged area to prep it for the base coat, you need a coarse one. If you are sanding the clear coat or color coat to match it to the rest of the paint, you’ll need a wet one.
Can metallic car paint be fixed at home?
Yes, metallic paints can be fixed at home. They are just like other paints when it comes to repairing.
Can pearl paint on cars be fixed at home?
Yes. If you get the paint that matches the color of your car, you can fix it no matter if it is pearl paint.
How does self-healing paintwork?
Self-healing paint has a layer of paint underneath the dried color coat and clear coat. This layer can ooze out and cover small chips and scratches. This technology is only effective for very small defects.