How to Touch Up Vehicle Paint

Follow these steps to repair the paint on your car or truck.

Over time, minor damage to your vehicle’s paint job is inevitable. Stone chips, scratches from tree branches, and parking lot door dings all add up to detract from your vehicle’s finish and leave you longing for that showroom-quality appearance. With a little elbow grease you can quickly and inexpensively touch up car paint to make your vehicle look new again. Read on to learn how to paint a car with touch-up paint.


What You'll Need for Car Paint Repair



Need a little know-how – This will be tough (but doable) for a beginner


Estimated Time Required

1-3 hours


Step-by-Step Guide to Car Paint Repair


Step 1: Before you begin, you'll want to find the exact automotive touch-up paint color and type for your vehicle.

Pro Tip: Test the paint color on a hidden area to see how well it matches

Step 2: Once you have your touch-up paint, you'll start by washing and drying your vehicle.

Step 3: To repair stone chips or deep scratches that have penetrated down to bare metal, sand the damaged area using #200 sandpaper.

Step 4: Apply the rubbing compound to smooth the damaged area.

Step 5: Using a small brush or spray paint, apply several additional coats of touch-up paint to build up the repaired area so it’s slightly higher than the paint surrounding it. Allow the paint to dry between coats.

Pro Tip: Don’t paint in direct sunlight or when the temperature is below 50 degrees.

Step 6: Use a small sanding block to sand the newly painted area until it's flush with the paint surrounding it. Then use #600 wet or dry sandpaper to blend the repair into the surrounding area.

Step 7: If your vehicle doesn’t have a clear coat (most modern vehicles do) use rubbing compound on the area to increase the shine. If there is a clear coat finish, use the wax remover on the paint surrounding the repair.

Step 8: Spray the sanded area with clear coat.

Step 9: Lightly sand the clear coat with #1500 sandpaper on a soft sanding block and wipe off the dust particles with a cotton cloth.

Step 10: Apply several coats of wax to protect the repaired area from environmental damage, and you're done!