Chipped paint on a car can become a bigger problem than just a cosmetic concern. The exposed metal underneath could rust, which could spread to the paint and ruin the entire area on your vehicle. Even a small chip on the paintwork caused by a small gravel can cause big problems if you don't fix it quickly. Fortunately, most of them can be repaired at home with some basic tools and a little experience. You probably won't get it back to how it looked out of the dealership, but you can prevent rust from appearing and even fix it well enough that others see it as fire.
Part 1 of 4: touch up small chips
Step 1. Determine the severity
Chips on a car’s paint can be classified into three categories: small, medium and large. Small chips tend to be smaller than a 20 cent coin and require little repair work. Medium chips are larger, but still smaller than a 50-cent coin, and large chips are as large as a 50-cent coin or even larger. Rust and peeling paint can also make it more difficult for you.
- Small chips should be rust free and smaller than a 20 cent coin.
- Chipping paint needs to be removed, making it a larger shine when it comes to the paint job.
Step 2. Purchase a touch-up pencil
Unlike scuffs that you can often polish or sand, a chip on the paint will cause you to apply new paint. The layer that your vehicle is coated with has more than aesthetic functions, it also helps protect the metal from the elements. If it was exposed to air or moisture for too long, it would start to oxidize and rust. A touch-up pencil can help prevent rust from developing and with all of the options available, you shouldn't have a hard time finding one in the right color for your bodywork. They are designed especially for small chips and they are easy to use.
- Check the sticker on the inside of the door of all vehicles manufactured after 1983 for the color code. If this code is not clearly stated, take a photo of the sticker to show it to a salesperson at an auto store so they can find the corresponding code.
- Some stores may ask you for your vehicle identification number to make sure it is the correct color. You will find this number on a sticker on the inside of the door.
Step 3. Clean around the shine
Before you can start painting, it is important that you wash the area properly. If you painted over residue like dirt, you could ruin the final appearance of the product and if it fell off, you would once again see the shine underneath. Rinse the entire area and wash it with lukewarm water and soap before rinsing it again and drying it.
Make sure the body is completely dry before applying paint
Step 4. Use the pencil to fill in the glow
Once the car is completely dry, pull the cap off the touch-up pencil and place the tip in the center of the chip. Depending on the type of paint in the pencil, you may need to gently press down on it to release the paint. It isn't going to be necessary to move it if the chip is small enough, as the paint will flow and it should fill the space, but you can also move it sideways to squeeze more out.. Use enough to slightly overlap the edges of the shine, as it will contract as it dries.
- Do not use so much that it will start to leak. The color of the paint will be the same, but small accidents such as dripping drops will be visible.
- If you've applied too much paint, wipe it off immediately.
Step 5. Let dry before washing and buffing
You should make sure that all paint is dry before washing the car, as you could easily scratch or mar the fresh paint if it is still sticky. Depending on the type of pencil and the amount of paint used, you might have to wait about an hour for it to completely dry, but other models might take you a whole day. Once the paint is completely dry wash the entire car and apply a fresh coat of gloss.
- Gently touch the paint to see if it is dry. If it seems a bit sticky to you, it's because it's not dry yet.
- Applying a new coat of gloss will help the body appear uniform in color and shine while protecting it from further chipping.
Part 2 of 4: repainting medium-sized shards
Step 1. Remove the dirt
Medium-sized shards tend to range in size from a 20-cent coin to a 50-cent coin. Because of their larger size, it often happens that small dirt gets stuck in or around the edges of the painting. You should remove them with your fingers or tweezers before washing the vehicle area. If you try to wash it first, the sponge may catch the dirt and pull it over the surface of the rest of the paint, leaving small scratches.
- The tweezers can help you remove small bits of dirt that might have caught in the paint before washing your car.
- Sometimes it is possible to blow off this dirt by blowing on the shard or by using compressed air.
- Be careful not to chip the rest of the paint as you clean it. It could cause an even bigger shard to appear.
Step 2. Wash the area all around
Once the shine and the surrounding area are no longer dirty, wash that part of the car as you would a smaller shine. Rinse the area first, then apply warm soapy water to it with a sponge before rinsing again. You need to be sure the car is completely dry before you want to paint it.
This step will allow you to remove any dirt or residue that might otherwise get stuck in the new coats of paint
Step 3. Use rubbing alcohol for oily stains
Once the area around the sheen is clean and dry, apply a little rubbing alcohol, cleaning solvent or enamel reducer to a rag to rub the sheen area again. This will remove traces of grease and oil that could prevent the primer from bonding well to the metal. You probably won't see any oil or grease, but these substances don't have to be visible to prevent you from applying the paint properly.
- Just rub the cloth over the shine and all around the edges.
- Remember that this step will remove the wax and even some of the paint in place, which is why you should avoid rubbing too hard. You just need to rub gently.
Step 4. Apply the primer to the metal
You can buy auto primers at most auto stores, but also at big box stores. It should be sold in a small bottle with a brush, unlike the touch-up pencil you use for smaller shards. Use the applicator brush to apply the primer to the clean, dry metal being careful to apply as little as possible to the paint all around. Use barely enough to cover the unpainted area with a thin, solid coat.
- When you paint over the primer, the new coat of paint will create a slight bump that will cause a stain to appear and will be visible.
- Make sure you don't use more primer than necessary. Wipe up and clean up spills immediately.
- Make sure it is dry before proceeding to the next step. If it still feels sticky to the touch, it's because it's not dry yet.
Step 5. Apply touch-ups with the applicator brush
Medium and large chips should be touched up with paint using an applicator brush rather than a pencil. Even though the paint inside is the same, the method used for application is slightly different. For moderately small chips, the touch-up pencil might do the trick. Shake it properly and dip the applicator brush into it. Then tap it in the center of the chip and gently move it sideways to allow the paint to stick to the metal and fill the hole. Dip the brush again and apply it to the same area, letting the paint flow from the brush onto the bodywork instead of basting it like painting a wall at home.
- You may have to start over a few times before you can fill in the shine, but if you follow this method, you may get a smoother paint job.
- Resist the urge to apply a heavy coat of paint to go faster. If you put in too much at once, it may leak or bubble.
Step 6. Let dry and reapply if necessary
Once the paint is dry, examine the result. If it has filled in the shine enough and the sides of the paint you just applied are aligned with the paint all around, you can move on to the next step. If the touch-up paint is slightly lower than the paint all around or if you can still see the metal underneath, apply a new coat using the same method as explained above.
- The paint may appear to lump as you apply it. It will contract as it dries, which will allow it to flatten out.
- A good dose of patience during this process will ensure you get the best end result.
- Make sure the touch-up paint is completely dry before proceeding to the next step (this could take several hours).
Step 7. Wash and polish the car
Even if you've only painted a small part of the car, it's important to buff the entire body at the same time to make sure it shines the same everywhere. The gloss protects the paintwork against bad weather and the sun, if you do not completely gloss your vehicle, the paint could start to tarnish by presenting different shades in different places. You are going to need to apply some sheen to the area you just painted to protect the new paint and to make sure that the shine in that area is the same as the rest of the car.
Be sure to wash and polish the car to protect the paint and get the same shine all over
Part 3 of 4: repairing large shards
Step 1. Assess the damage
A large paint chip is usually larger in size than a 50-cent coin. These are the most difficult to repair, as the area you need to cover will show up more easily. If the chip is several inches in diameter and continues to chip away and get wider, you're probably going to have to go to the garage to repaint the whole part, or even the entire body. Make sure you can repair the damage yourself with paint before you jump in.
- Touch-up paint should only be used on chips several centimeters in diameter.
- Do not try to paint over a peeling area, as it will fall off and ruin your repairs.
Step 2. Take out the dirt
Use tweezers or a metal tip to pop them out. Dirt will collect more easily on larger shards and you need to remove it before proceeding to the next step. Use your fingers or tweezers to squeeze out the large enough residue, and try blowing on the area or using compressed air to remove the residue. Larger chips could cause the paint to peel off all around. Be sure to remove any peeling paint, as it is no longer stuck to the metal and will eventually fall off, which will ruin the coat of paint you are about to put on. You can use your fingernails, tweezers or a metal tip to get out the chipped paint.
- Be careful not to tear off viable paint all around the chip when removing the scales.
- Also, be sure not to scratch the paint with the tools you use to remove dirt and residue.
Step 3. Eliminate the rust
Since large chips expose the metal to mold, they present a higher risk of rusting. Remove it with a rust remover on a cotton swab that you rub gently on the metal. If the rust has penetrated deep and created a hole, or if your cotton swab is getting through the metal layer, that means it has ruined the part and you can't fix it just by covering it with paint.. The garage can determine if the rust can be removed and repaired or if the part needs to be replaced completely with a new one. If it hasn't penetrated too far, just apply rust remover with a cotton swab until the metal surface is clean.
- Once the swab stays clean by rubbing it, wipe the area with rubbing alcohol to remove residual chemicals and grease.
- If you don't completely remove the rust, the new paint will peel off quickly when the rust starts to fall off.
- Plus, by stopping the development of rust, you'll save on costly repairs down the road.
Step 4. Sand the edges of the chip
Use fine sandpaper (2000 gauge should be sufficient to avoid causing additional scuffing) to sand the edges around the chip and reduce the visibility of the repair. The visible edges around a large chip may make the repair more obvious to the naked eye, but sanding them will help the new paint to blend in better with the paint already present. Do not wet the sandpaper as you would with automotive sandpaper, as this will cause more rust to appear on the metal. Instead, use dry sandpaper and replace it often, as it will take on paint.
- You can gain more control over the sanding angle by gluing pieces of sandpaper to small sticks or dowels, but you don't have to.
- Sand the edges of the sheen until they are smooth and less visible to the naked eye.
- Wash the area after sanding to remove any residue you left behind.
Part 4 of 4: repaint large chips
Step 1. Apply the primer
Once the sheen is sanded, clean and dry, you can apply the primer as you would a medium-sized chip. Apply a thin coat of primer to the visible metal with the applicator brush. Be careful not to overdo it so that it leaks, as it may get into the paint or make the final repair less uniform.
- Allow the primer to dry completely before proceeding to the next step.
- It may take several hours for the primer to completely dry. Check the product label to find out how long to wait.
Step 2. Sand the primer with damp paper
Once it is dry, it might show a slight texture from the bristles of the brush or the way it has dried on the metal. Use 2000-gauge sandpaper and a hose to dampen the primer. Turn on the water and hold the hose over the shard so that it flows directly over it before using the sandpaper to gently sand it. Be careful not to sand the paint coat all around while sanding the primer until it is completely flat.
- By working it this way, you make sure that it stays completely flat and even.
- Let the primer dry before proceeding to the next step.
Step 3. Apply touch up paint
Using the same method as for a medium shine, you can apply paint over the primer. Pat the applicator brush on it, then place it in the middle of the glow and let the paint spread. Repeat the process until the paint covers the entire area. You may need to apply several coats or one may be sufficient depending on the paint you purchased.
- Let dry completely before deciding if another coat is needed.
- If you tried to apply the paint before the primer has dried, you may cause small gray swirls to appear in the paint.
Step 4. Sand the dry paint with wet paper
Once it's completely dry, repeat the sanding steps on the fresh paint to remove any texture present and make it completely flat. Be sure to use extremely fine sandpaper (2000 gauge or larger) and keep a steady stream of water over the paint as you sand to avoid further damage. If you sand it dry, you will create scuff marks.
- If you make a mistake or see a problem with the paint as you sand it, let it dry completely, then apply more paint.
- Gently sand the area until it is completely flat and flush with the paint all around.
Step 5. Apply a coat of varnish
Some paints will be sold with a small bottle of varnish, for others, you will have to buy it separately. The varnish is lacquer based and you must apply a thin layer on the fresh paint with the applicator brush. A small, thin paint brush should suffice. Apply the clear coat on the paint, it will protect it and give more shine to the body which you will then bring out with the gloss during the next step.
- Apply a thin coat of varnish to the new paint.
- The freshly painted shine should still be visible until you apply the clearcoat, but remember it will be a lot less so if you don't have your nose against the bodywork.
- Let the polish dry before proceeding to the next step.
Step 6. Wash and polish the car
Once the polish is dry, you can wash and polish the car to make sure the luster is spread well. This step will allow the new paint to adapt even more to the paint around it and make the touch-up less visible. You can even wait a few days before polishing it to make sure the coats of varnish, paint and primer are completely dry so you don't risk ruining the paint while you are polishing the body.