Paint chips caused by rocks, hail, or other road debris don’t just look ugly, they can spread and lead to further damage to your vehicle. Your vehicle’s paint protects against rust, which can cause significant damage to the body of your car. This also decreases the resale value of your vehicle. The good news is that you might be able to fix car paint chips yourself.
Since 2012, StormWise has used premium paint for flawless dent and hail repair. During that time, we’ve seen and fixed all types of paint chips, so we put together this step-by-step guide so you can avoid a trip to the auto body shop by learning how to fix chips in car paint yourself.
Keep reading to improve the appearance and integrity of your car by assessing paint chips, cleaning and smoothing the area, applying primer when necessary, repainting the damaged surface, and finally buffing and waxing to keep your vehicle looking great for longer.
What’s in this Guide:
- Step 1: Determine Chip Size
- Step 2: Clean the Area
- Step 3: Smooth out the Raised Edges Around the Paint
- Step 4: Apply the Primer (If Necessary)
- Step 5: Apply the Paint
- Step 6: Apply Clear Coat
- Step 7: Polish and Buff the Repaired Area
- Step 8: Wax the Repaired Area
- Protecting Your Car from Paint Chips
- Paint Chip Repair FAQs
Step 1: Determine Chip Size
Before you start the DIY automotive paint chip repair process, you should determine the size and severity of the chip. Paint chips can vary from tiny to large and, as you might have guessed, it’s easier to fix paint chips when they’re small.
Small chips are often classified as paint chips that are smaller than a dime, medium chips are up to the size of a quarter, and large chips are those that are larger than a quarter. Additionally, you want to identify if the chip is spreading or flaking the surrounding paint. Finally, identify if there is any rust underneath the paint.
While you can fix car paint chips of any size on your own, if there is rust, deep scratches, or significant flaking, especially for large paint chips, we strongly suggest taking your vehicle to a professional paint chip repair service. They will make sure that the rust hasn’t compromised the integrity of your vehicle and ensure a clear, unnoticeable repair for even very large, rusted, and flaking chips and dings.
Step 2: Clean the Area
After you determine the size and severity of the rock chips on the car paint, you need to thoroughly clean the area. Doing so will ensure a smooth, lasting paint job and help you avoid painting over dust or dirt that can impact the appearance and color of the paint.
Rinse the area with water and then use warm soap and water to wash the affected area and nearby areas around the debris or stone chip. Then, make sure that the area is completely dry before moving on to step 3.
Step 3: Smooth out the Raised Edges Around the Paint
When the paint on your car is chipped, then the other edges around the paint can be raised, which can lead to an uneven touch-up paint job. Additionally, there may be waxes, grease, and coatings on the surface that can prevent good paint adhesion.
You can pick up and remove some debris with your hands or tweezers including flaking paint. Additionally, you can use canned air to eliminate smaller debris. Then, use rubbing alcohol to remove grease and oil from the area. This will make it easier for primer or paint to bond with the material.
In some cases, you can gently sand the area to smooth out any remaining rough edges. You have to be very careful if you plan on sanding the area though. It can be easy to scratch the paint and cause additional damage to your vehicle. There are sanding pens and specific fine grit sandpapers that are less likely to damage the surrounding paint.
Finally, if there is any rust, you will want to remove as much of it as possible. For large amounts of rust, this can be a difficult task, but you can purchase rust remover and use a cotton swab to eliminate rust from small and medium paint chips. After doing so, you will need to clean away any residual rust remover with isopropyl alcohol.
Step 4: Apply the Primer (If Necessary)
For medium and large paint chips that expose the metal body of your vehicle, you will need to apply primer prior to applying paint. Many stores like Amazon and Walmart sell automotive primers that come with an applicator brush to easily coat the area.
It’s important to coat the entire exposed area with a very thin layer. You want to use just enough primer so that the paint application can adhere but should avoid using any more than necessary. Immediately wipe away any excess, drips, or streaks.
Additionally, you want to avoid getting any primer on the paint around the chip because it can create a blemish in the appearance of the new paint job. While it will take some patience, try to apply primer slowly and methodologically to ensure a thin coat that doesn’t extend beyond the paint chip.
Make sure that the primer is completely dry before moving to step 5. If it is sticky at all, then it is not dry enough.
Step 5: Apply the Paint
Now it’s time for the actual paint portion of paint chip repair, but first, you must make sure that you choose the correct color. Otherwise, your new paint will look different from the rest of your paint job.
As long as your vehicle was built after 1983 and still has the original paint color from the dealership or manufacturer, you should be able to find the OEM color on thwith v bbv ff redxc gb
Coupled the VIN number, an automotive repair store should be able to get the exact paint code for your color using Dr. Colorchip or an auto parts store. These types of stores also sell paint chip repair kits and Road Rash kits that may come in handy during the process.
Otherwise, you may have to do your best to locate and match the color. Additionally, we recommend using premium paint. It may be more expensive, but it will look nicer, last longer, and protect the vehicle from moisture and future damage.
Small Paint Chips
With small paint scratches and chips, you can use a touch up paint pen to easily fill in the chip. These make do-it-yourself car paint chip repair fast and easy. You simply use it to fill in the paint until the new paint is barely above the surface of the existing paint. This will allow for the paint shrinkage that occurs during the drying process.
Medium or Large Paint Chips
To fix car paint chips that are medium or large size, you can use a small brush to slowly apply paint to the area. You want to start at the middle of the chip and move slowly around to the outer edges. Use only a small amount of paint at a time. It may take some time and might even require a few more coats, but the appearance of your vehicle will be improved by taking your time.
If it requires multiple coats, make sure to let each layer thoroughly dry between paintings. After it dries, the paint will shrink, so you need to see if the chipped area is close to even and make sure that the paint also covers up the metal body. If necessary, use wet sand sandpaper of 1000 or 2000 grit to carefully even out the paint.
Step 6: Apply Clear Coat
After the last layer of paint has fully dried, it’s time to apply clear coat lacquer. This will protect the paint and produce an attractive shine to your vehicle that will help the auto paint chip repair look the same as before you got the chip.
Clear coat sealant can be applied similarly to paint. Use a small brush to apply a thin layer to the new paint. It will dry fast, but you will probably need a second layer of clear coat as well. If you can still see thx, e boundary between the new paint and the rest of the vehicle, that’s okay. This will be repaired in the next step. For now, you just want to make sure that the clear coat is evenly applied, smooth, and, as usual, completely dry.
Step 7: Polish and Buff the Repaired Area
This is the step that makes sure the appearance of the car chip paint repair job isn’t noticeable and looks great. By polishing and buffing the new paint, you can make it look like the surrounding paint. That’s because the rest of the paint is older and potentially faded.
Use a polishing compound and a microfiber cloth or polishing pad to apply gentle pressure and work in small circular motions. You should extend slightly beyond the new paint onto the old paint to ensure a smooth transition.
Step 8: Wax the Repaired Area
Finally, you will need to wax the area and the entire car to make sure the wax product is evenly distributed. Waxing will finalize the car paint chip repair process and blend the newly painted area with the surrounding exteriors. It will also protect your paint from potential damage.
Use a microfiber cloth and follow the instructions for the wax product you chose. Move and dab slowly and patiently to encourage a lasting, even wax. Then, when the wax has dried to a haze, you can use a cloth to buff the entire exterior of the vehicle.
That’s all there is to it! Now you know how to fix a paint chip on a car for the first time!
Protecting Your Car from Paint Chips
Since paint chips damage the appearance of your vehicle and can spread and contribute to rust, it’s important to fix car paint chips as soon as possible. To do so, you will have to clean the area and smooth out the edges, apply primer, identify the correct paint colors, evenly apply paint, and then apply a clear coat, buff, and wax the area. This should create an unnoticeable repair that looks great and lasts for years to come.
However, if you have medium or large paint chips, particularly with rust and flaking, then you might need professional help. StormWise can repair your paint chips, dents, and hail damage using premium paint with a lifetime warranty for complete peace of mind.
Paint Chip Repair FAQs
How can I determine the correct paint color for my car?
You will need the correct paint color to properly repair paint chip on cars. If your vehicle was built after 1983 and still has the original paint color, you can find this information on the inside of the driver’s door. The label will list the exterior paint colors.
If your car has ever been repainted, then you’ll need to check your vehicle repair and auto shop records. If that doesn’t turn up any answers, then you’ll need to do your best to find a good match. Some automatic stores can help you find the closest match to your paint color.
Is it necessary to apply a primer before painting over a chip?
It depends., For small chips, primer may not be necessary. However, if the chip goes through all layers of auto paint to expose the metal body, you will need to use automotive primer.
How can I prevent car paint chips in the future?
Here are a few tips to prevent car paint chips in the future:
- Wash your car regularly
- Avoid dirt roads and new construction areas
- Drive carefully
- Choose your parking spot carefully
- Use paint protection products and waxes
Can you use spray paint to fix car paint chips?
While you can use spray paint to cover up your paint chips, we don’t recommend doing so. First, it will be hard to get a paint match with the surrounding area. Additionally, spray paint tends to cause swirls, uneven applications, and other problems.
Are there any potential risks or mistakes to avoid when repairing car paint chips at home?
There are some potential risks and mistakes to avoid when you fix car paint chips including potential scratches on your existing paint, unrepaired rust, poor color matching, uneven coats, streaks in the paint, and more.
While most of these are only risky for the appearance of your vehicle, rust can damage the body of your vehicle. Additionally, without proper care and patience, you could flake off more paint and cause the chip to spread.
When is it necessary to consult a professional for car paint chip repairs?
If there is significant paint flaking, rust, or a large chip, then it’s always best to consult a paint repair professional to fix car paint chips. Doing so with StormWise will ensure the highest-quality paint and best possible results for your vehicle.
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