Imagine you’re cruising through an open highway, the wind in your hair, and the open road stretching in front of you.
And suddenly, you hear that ‘clink,’ a pebble chipping the paint of your car’s fine body.
Now you’re thinking about how to fix chipped paint on car, and how much money and time it’s going to cost you.
What if I tell you this is something you can take care of on your own?
Let me show you how!
Fixing Chipped Paint on Car in 10 Steps
Before we proceed to the step-by-step guide, it’s important to understand that this repair job is only recommended if you have a fresh chip.
You must leave the job to the professionals if it is an older chip with rust on the car’s frame.
|Step 1: Determine the Chipped Area
|Step 2: Clean the Area
|Step 3: Protect the Surrounding
|Step 4: Sand Rough Edges
|Step 5: Prime the Area
|Step 6: Paint the Area
|Step 7: Apply Clear Coat
|Step 8: Take Off the Masking Tape
|Step 9: Blend and Buff
|Step 10: Wax the Area
Step 1: Determine the Chipped Area
- The first step in repairing chipped paint on a car is to determine the size and severity of the chipped area.
- The larger the size, the more difficult it is to repair it.
- If the chip is smaller than a dime, it is considered a small chip.
- But if the chip is larger than a dime, almost equal to a pencil eraser, it is a medium-sized chip.
- And if the chip is larger than a pencil eraser, it’s a large chip.
- Before you start the process, examine carefully if there is any rust buildup on the car body under that chipped area.
- If there is any rust and the chip is too large and deep, it’s best to take your car to an automotive repair shop to fix it.
- However, if the chip is recent and small to medium in size, you can proceed with the repair.
Step 2: Clean the Area
- Once you have managed to spot all the chipped areas on your car, it’s time to clean them first.
- Cleaning before repairing ensures that the new paint remains intact for longer and no dirt or flaked paint is mixed in the new paint job.
- Take your car and park it in a shed.
- Do not put it in direct sunlight or any area with a temperature below 50ºF, as they can dry up the cleaning solution really fast and leave residue on the car.
- Rinse the area with warm water thoroughly, then let it air dry.
- Mix detergent soap and warm water in a bucket and soak a microfiber cloth in it.
- Carefully wash the chipped areas and the surroundings so you don’t damage any more paint.
- Apply light pressure and use circular or back-and-forth motions to clean dirt, grease, and wax.
- Once done, use a clean cotton cloth to wipe away the remaining cleaning solution.
- Wait until the surface has fully dried before proceeding to the next step.
- Warm water
- Detergent soap
- Microfiber cloth
Step 3: Protect the Surrounding
- Take automotive masking tape and define the boundaries of the chipped area by taping just outside the edges.
- Gently run your finger over the tape so it adheres firmly but without excessive tension.
- Overlap the joints and edges with the masking tape so the new paint can’t seep under it and ruin the car’s original paint.
- Trim the extra tape carefully so you do not damage the paint.
- Make sure the tape has a secure seal around all the chipped areas.
- Automotive masking tape
Step 4: Sand Rough Edges
- When your car’s paint gets chipped, it raises the edges of the paint in that area.
- If you don’t take care of it, it will result in an uneven paint job.
- Take a tweezer and start removing the remaining paint flakes from inside the chipped area.
- You can also use canned air or just blow with your mouth to get rid of the debris that can’t be picked.
- Next, use denatured rubbing alcohol to gently rub over the chipped area to soften the paint edges.
- Take an 800-grit sandpaper and soak it in clean water.
- Put it on a sanding block, and start sanding the edges very carefully so you don’t scratch the paint.
- You can use a circular or a back-and-forth motion, depending on where the chipped area is.
- These methods will gradually lower the raised edges while smoothening the surrounding area.
- Keep on checking the edges with your fingers until you feel the surface is level and there are no sharp edges.
- Once you are satisfied, rinse the area with clean water and let it air dry.
- If you notice a little bit of rust after the sanding, you can clean it on your own.
- Dip cotton swabs in a rust remover and use them to clear out the rust gently.
- Once done, get a microfiber cloth and dampen it with isopropyl alcohol.
- Wipe the chipped area 10-12 times to remove any remaining rust remover residue from the surface.
- Canned air
- 800-grit sandpaper
- Sanding block
- Cotton swabs
- Rust remover
- Microfiber cloth
- Isopropyl alcohol
Step 5: Prime the Area
- If the chip is exposing the metal body of your car, you must use a primer before painting.
- Take your primer applicator brush and dip it in the primer.
- If the chipped area is too small to fit the brush tip, take a match stick and use it as the applicator,
- Shake off the extra primer and apply a very thin layer, touching the edges of the surrounding paint.
- Be sure to fill the chipped area only and wipe away any drips or streaks immediately.
- Apply the primer slowly so it doesn’t cross over the masking tape and get overboard the good areas.
- Wait for at least 30 minutes for the primer to dry.
- This step is crucial because if the primer is sticky, the new paint won’t adhere to it strongly.
- Applicator brush
- Match stick
Step 6: Paint the Area
- It is very important to get the right color for the repair job, so your car can have a seamless finish all over.
- You can take the VIN number of your car to your nearest automotive repair shop, and they can get you the exact color code for your car’s color.
- If you are missing any other equipment necessary for the repair job, you can find them there, too.
- However, if you fail to find the exact color in this manner, you can always go back to the dealer you bought your car from and enquire with them.
- Once you have matched the color, it’s time to start painting the chipped areas.
- If the color is non-metallic and the chipped areas are small, use a touch up paint pen.
- Fill the pen with the paint and start filling the chip until the paint is barely overflowing the edges.
- This will allow the paint to shrink and set on a surface level once dried up.
- For a metallic color, use a spray can to spray the paint in its cap, and then dip the touch up paint pen in it.
- This is because metallic paints get darker if applied directly with a pen or brush.
- For medium-sized chips, use a touch up paintbrush to apply paint.
- Start from the center of the chip and slowly move toward the edges.
- Use very little paint so it doesn’t drip on the surrounding areas crossing the tape.
- Apply multiple coats so the chipped areas get a seamless finish, and wait at least an hour between every coat to let the paint dry properly.
- Once the final coat dries, run your fingers over the repaired areas to figure out the evenness.
- If it feels like the area is overfilled with paint and not level with the surface, use 1000-grit wet sandpaper on a sanding block to carefully smooth out the paint.
- Put extra paint layers if the chipped area is not filled properly due to paint shrinkage.
- For a larger chip, always use a spray can or a hopper gun to paint it.
- They ensure even paint coverage and a perfect blending of the colors without any streaks.
- But remember, you can only repair large chipped areas if the chip is recent and there is no rust growth on the car’s metal body.
- Touch up paint pen
- Touch up paintbrush
- Spray can or hopper gun
- 1000-grit sandpaper
- Sanding block
Step 7: Apply Clear Coat
- Once you are happy with the surface of your paint, it’s time to apply a clear coat of lacquer over it.
- A clear coat of lacquer protects the new paint job and creates a stunning shine so your car looks as good as new.
- Use a small paintbrush and dip it in the clear coat.
- Shake off the excess liquid and start applying over the new paint.
- Make sure to apply a very thin layer.
- Once it dries, proceed to apply a second coat.
- Make sure the final clear coat is completely dry and even with the surface.
- You may see a floating boundary between the new paint and the car’s body, but it’s natural and will be taken care of in step 9.
- Clear coat lacquer
Step 8: Take Off the Masking Tape
- Before you start the final blending process, it’s time to take off the masking tape.
- Begin from the corners and work your way through the tape line.
- Hold the end of the tape and start pulling it back at a 45-degree angle.
- This angle ensures the tape won’t peel back any paint or leave any sticky residue on the car.
- Avoid jerking or ripping the tape off quickly, as this can damage the paint.
- Do not force-pull the tape if you notice any resistance while pulling away the tape.
- Use your hair dryer with the lowest heat settings to heat up the adhesive in that area, then gently remove the tape.
- Hair dryer
Step 9: Blend and Buff
- This step is crucial to ensuring that your new paint matches the surrounding paint flawlessly.
- Sometimes, the old paint could be a little faded.
- Polishing and blending the new paint make sure that the repair job isn’t noticeable.
- Get an automotive polishing compound and put some on a clean microfiber cloth.
- With gentle pressure, start polishing the newly repaired area in circular motions.
- While polishing, go beyond the new paint to ensure a smooth transition with the old one.
- Automotive polishing compound
- Microfiber cloth
Step 10: Wax the Area
- Now that you are almost done fixing your chipped paint, it’s time for the final step.
- Get an appropriate automotive wax and put some on a microfiber cloth.
- Start with the repaired area and slowly move around the whole car.
- Dab very gently and slowly to ensure an even coverage.
- Waxing helps the new paint blend seamlessly with the surrounding area and protects it from future chipping.
- Once the wax has dried to a haze, use a clean cloth to wipe the entire exterior of your car.
- Automotive wax
- Microfiber cloth
What if You Can’t Fix the Chipped Paint Immediately?
Now, the guide seems pretty straightforward to follow, even without prior paint repairing experience.
But what if you are missing any vital component, like the matching paint, and you can’t immediately take your car to the garage?
For such a scenario, there are some temporary fixes that you can use so the paint doesn’t flake further, or worse, the car’s body starts to get rusty.
Clear Nail Polish
If you have a small stone chip, you can apply a thin layer of clear nail polish to the chipped area.
This will protect the paint temporarily until you can repair it adequately.
Film tape is something that you can easily find in any hardware store.
Cut a piece bigger than the chipped area, and press it down firmly to create a seal.
This will provide a temporary fix until you can take your car to the garage.
You can use Vaseline to cover a small chipped area to prevent moisture and dirt from seeping in and reaching the car’s frame.
This won’t protect the paint from further damage, but it will at least give you some time.
Plastic wrap can be found in every home’s kitchen, and it can be useful other than just keeping your food fresh.
Cut a small piece and carefully apply it over the chipped area; make sure to run your fingers along the edges so it sticks properly.
This will give you ample time until you repaint the chipped area.
There you have it, your freshly repainted car without a single mark of anything happened to its beautiful paint job!
By following the steps, you have managed to fix the chipped paint on your car like you have been doing it for ages!
However, if you are using one of the temporary fixes I provided, I highly recommend you see a professional before your car loses its integrity.
Will chipped paint rust?
Yes. If you ignore repairing any chipped paint, it will become a rusty and corroded spot due to weather exposure.
How can I prevent car paint chips in the future?
Although car paint chips totally depend on the road you’re driving, there are a few prevention tips that you can follow:
- Always avoid dirt roads filled with pebbles, and drive slowly if you have no other options.
- Ignore driving through open construction areas.
- Choose your parking spot carefully, do not park near any building with windows.
- Always use paint protection products and wax on your car.
Is nail polish safe on car paint?
Yes, nail polish is safe on car paint.
But if you are using it to repair any chipped paint, you should remember that it is a temporary fix, and you should get the chipped area repaired ASAP.