How To Touch Up Your Car Paint

Unless you keep your car wrapped up in cotton wool, at some point you will experience some kind of issue with the paint. It is simply the nature of the beast and can be caused by something as unavoidable as debris from the road coming together with your bodywork or perhaps a careless shopping trolley manoeuvre may be the culprit. If you are fairly proud of your car, these little chips can be rather annoying. They can also lead to rust damage and really put a damper on your otherwise gorgeous looking car’s image. Here we’ll be looking at how to use touch up paint on your chip in a way that won’t cost the earth and should return your car back to its former glory.

Match the Colour

If you don’t know the exact paint code, check the bulkhead for this information. Just open the bonnet and the data should be on a small rectangular label. When you’re buying the touch up paint, also buy some primer and rust treatment if required.

Rust Away

If you can see bare metal under the chipped area, apply some rust treatment as per the instructions. This is advisable even if you can’t see any damage yet, rust is the number one enemy of a car’s bodywork, especially so in the UK.

Cleaning Time

It is very important that you wash the area around the paint chip, this will remove any loose debris and ensure that the damaged area is nice and clean before you start the touch up job properly.


Add some wax removal solution to the area and apply some 220 grade sandpaper to the target area. Instead of simply attacking the chip itself, you should add an inch or so around the affected area. Wash the area one more time and give it 30 minutes or so to dry thoroughly.

Prime Time

Apply your primer to the chip and the designated surrounding area and use a small brush if this is less than a few centimetres in total. As long as the surface paint has been roughened up by the 220 grade paper, the primer will adhere without any issues. One coat is sufficient and please allow enough time for this coat to dry properly.

Testing Times


Even if you are sure that the touch up paint is the exact match for your car, you should do a little test before the main job. Pick an area of your car that is otherwise non visible and add the new paint. Somewhere like the door interior is a good place for this exercise and you’ll soon see if the colour matches and whether or not there are any bad reactions.

Paint It

Okay, the area has been primed and you are sure that the new colour is a perfect fit, so let’s paint over that nasty looking grey primer. Using a small brush, add 2 or 3 layers of the paint to the affected area. The new paint should be slightly higher than the original paint work, wait 24 hours and repeat one more time.

Finish It Off

Apply some 1000 grade sandpaper to the now dried paint and rub it very slowly and as gentle as you like. Use 2000 and 3000 grade paper afterwards and do this until the touch up paint is even with the original paintwork. Add some polish or wax to the car and you should see a very good result indeed.

Extra Tips

  • If you have never painted a car before, why not practice on a metal can until you are confident that you can do justice to the job in hand?
  •  You can use a matchstick to apply the prier and touch up paint if the chip is very small.