Everyone hopes it never happens to them, but it’s almost inevitable: That bright, shiny new car gets a scratch. When it happens, the driver often wonders if it’s better to pay someone to fix it, or to try a DIY approach. For slightly damaged areas, it can be a rewarding job if one follows the steps listed below.
Find a Precise Color Match
The first step is to find the right color. After all, there’s no point in DIY scratch repair if the result is more noticeable than the scratch! Colors go by many different names, and what’s right on one car can be completely wrong on another. The best way to get an exact match is to find the color code, which is typically printed on a sticker that’s in the glove compartment, on the firewall, or on the driver’s doorjamb.
Determine What Can (and Can’t) be Fixed
After finding and buying the right color of car touch up paint, find out which spots can be fixed. A major ding or dent typically needs professional service, as do scratches bigger than the tip of a pencil eraser. Remember that a bit of paint can go a long way. Test the color on an inconspicuous spot on the car’s body.
Clean and Prep for a Lasting Repair
Be sure to remove any residue by washing the car with dish soap or a grease remover. For rust to start, oxygen is needed, and most fillers and primers will prevent the formation of rust. It’s important not to file or scrape paint off, as it will cause more damage. Apply the filler or primer and let it dry.
Apply Dots of Paint for an Even Finish
Apply the touch-up paint to the area with the finest-tipped brush available. Use a dabbing motion, as it doesn’t leave stroke marks. If it needs a second coat, allow the first to dry completely before proceeding.
After the paint is applied, allow it to cure for a full 24 hours. Wash the vehicle and polish it by hand, giving the painted area a bit of extra attention. When the job is finished, tightly seal the paint container and keep it in a cool and dry place for the next use.