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How To Fix Chipped Paint On Car – DIY Paint Fixing Methods

by Jordan Harris
How To Fix Chipped Paint On A Car

Whether you are a car enthusiast or not, you want your car to look good. The paint on your car plays a huge role in making your car look good. The tiniest damage in your car’s paint job could make it look ugly. When your paint is chipped it is not just the looks that get affected. So, how to fix chipped paint on a car?

The paint not only makes your car look good, but it is also layer protection for the body of the car. It adds a layer to the body so it is protected from the elements. The structural integrity of your body relies on the paint coat covering it. Even a chip in that paint could turn out to be a weak spot in the body of the car.

The difficulty of fixing chipped car paint depends on the extent of damage, how long it has been exposed, and some other factors. But if you are worried about the cost to get your paint fixed, a simple DIY job can save a lot of money.

Why Is Paint Important?

As mentioned earlier, a chip on your car’s paint job is much more than an eyesore. The paint job is more like a jacket or a cover for your car. Along with providing an appealing look to your car’s exterior, paint is designed toward off structural problems.

The exterior of the body of most cars is made using steel. This is not indestructible. The integrity of your body will deteriorate over time, especially when it is exposed to the elements without any protection. A proper paint cover will help keep your car’s body strong and keep you safe on the road.

This also helps prevent your body from rusting (you can learn more in our guide on how to stop rust on a car). Rust can make your metal body brittle, which can easily become a safety hazard. A poor paint job can lead to rusting on your car’s body. A rusted car would require a lot of bodywork repair to get it back to a condition where it can be driven. A proper coat of paint will not allow oxygen and moisture to come in contact with the steel body protecting it from rust.

Finally, we have another aesthetic value of a complete paint job. Just like how scratches, chips, and any other paint damage looks sore to your eyes, others view it the same way. This includes a potential buyer. Assuming you are planning to sell your car in the future you need to protect your coat of paint.

A buyer would surely back off if he sees a scratched or chipped paint job. This gives the impression that the car is not taken care of. And even if he does buy it, you will receive thousands of dollars less than the car’s actual value.

What Causes You To Have To Fix Chipped Paint?

With technology related to painting and the industry is developing rapidly, major paint damage is becoming rarer every single day. A paint chip is one of those paint damages almost everyone who owns a car comes across in their lifetime. The best way to reduce the chances of facing a paint chip or try to avoid paint chipping, you should know what causes the paint to chip in the first place.

how to Fix chipped paint on car

When a sharp object strikes your paint, or even a blunt object if it strikes hard enough it will cause your paint to chip. A quality coat of paint will be flexible, thus absorbing the impact without turning it into a chip.

However, age and wear reduce the quality of the paint. With time it becomes harder and the layers of paint start to separate from the body panel. This makes the paint prone to chipping. By the time this happens your paint will require more care.

Here are the biggest causes of paint chipping in cars.

Road Hazards

Debris is a huge factor that can cause chipping. The most common place where the car’s paint job meets debris traveling at a high velocity is by the road. Debris from car collisions, scattered gravel and concrete remnants from roadside construction work are all sources that can damage your paint job.

Often it is the gravel, sand, wood chips, or glass from freight trucks or thrown from another automobile that comes into contact with your car. These disturbances cannot be predicted, so avoiding them is not easy. The best solution is to keep your distance from potential road hazards.


If you think that weather has no impact on your paint job you are seriously mistaken? Any type of adverse weather, cold or hot can damage your paint job instantly.

Paint chipping becomes a much more probable result after the heat has caused it to bubble up after sitting unprotected for countless hours in the parking lot exposed to the heat rays from the sun. During hot climate conditions, the humidity increases as well, which also adds to the damage on your paint.

The same kind of paint damage can also be seen in cold weather.  Extreme gusts of wind, snowstorms, and brutal ice are notorious for turning a smooth paint job into a chipped-up disaster.

You cannot do much to protect your car from weather effects. Not using your car when the weather is adverse is not an option. The only thing you can control is parking your car in a safe spot, where the weather cannot affect your car.

Sharp Objects

When sharp items come into contact with your car, obviously it will rip your paint off the body. Sharp objects striking your car naturally is very rare. But these objects come into play when considering automotive vandalism. Acts of vandalism on cars are more common than you think.

Automotive vandalism can come in the form of keys, knives razors, or even sharp stones. These acts can result in slashes across your otherwise, perfect pain job. When sharp objects such as these come into contact with your car, paint chipping an obvious result.

Now that you know how your paint can get chipped you can try to avoid them in the future. But if your paint is already chipped you need to worry about, how to fix chipped paint on a car?

How To Fix Chipped Paint On Your Car?

There are a few options for you if your paint is chipped. Which option you should choose depends on the quality of the work you need, the time you are willing to spend, how much money you are willing to spend and most of all the extent of the damaged paint.

Chips aren’t a complicated job to fix. If you are willing to take some time out of your schedule, you can easily fix it yourself. Or there are some quick fixes as well if the damage is small. Here are a few methods on how to fix chipped paint on a car.

Using A Paint Pen

This is probably the easiest way to fix a paint chip or a scratch. But it has its limitations. For a paint pen to work the damaged area should be small. If the chip is the size of a coin, fixing it with a paint pen is not the best option. Or if the chipped area has started to rust, a paint pen will not be a suitable option.

If the damaged area is small and you act quick enough before the formation of any rust, then you can use a paint pen to fix your chipped paint quickly and easily.

First, see the paint code on your car’s door jam and buy a paint pen for the color. Buying the right color is important. If the shade is slightly off the corrected patch will be visible. Once you pick the correct shade, you can start to work.

You need to clean the area of damage before proceeding. You do not want to have any dirt on the surface while you use the paint pen. Rubbing alcohol is a good substance to clean the car before painting. Apply a generous amount of rubbing alcohol and wipe the area clean. Now all you have to do is fill in the damaged chip or scar on your paint job using the pen.

There are a few disadvantages if you decide to use a paint pen to fill in your chipped paint. There are not a lot of color choices when it comes to painting pens so choosing the right shade can be tricky. And this is not a proper fix. Upon closer inspection, the defect will appear and there is a chance that rust could travel through the paint and into the body.

DIY Paint Repair Kits

DIY repair kits provide you with everything you need to fix your car. Using these DIY repair kits is not easy as using a paint pen, but it doesn’t restrict you as much. These can fix bigger chips that paint pens cannot.

How to fix chipped paint on car

There are numerous brands out there that manufacture paint repair kits. Though they differ slightly from one another, the way of using them and their overall capabilities are almost the same. They all come with a detailed instruction manual, so you do not need to worry about not knowing to use the product. It is meant to be used by beginners so it is not that complicated.

You do not have to worry about matching the paint with these DIY repair kits. Paint match is almost a certainty with these repair kits and you can fix the deepest of scratches and chips.

The process is similar to the paint pen in many ways, but you will have to get your hands dirty for this one since you will be playing with a few solutions. First, you have to clean the area of the chip. Follow that up by removing any excess paint in the area of the chip.

Now all you have to do is fill it up and polish it so it looks brand new. The process is slightly tedious than a paint pen, but you will get a better finish on the job, and the Paint repair kit can handle jobs that the paint pen can’t.

The price range of these kits is vast. If you are looking for a better quality repair, try not to pick a repair kit in the lower price range. Another thing to keep in mind is that you need to follow the instruction manual closely.

Professional Method

Now, this method is much harder compared to the previous two methods, but the work you put in will result in a finer outcome in the quality. You will need a few tools and a few hours to get the job done. Keep in mind this can be a cheaper option than using a DIY repair kit.

The process starts the same way. You need to clean the area of the chip first. Clean this with soapy water or any other car washing liquids. Wipe it down with a low lint cloth, and now you can clean it with rubbing alcohol. Even if the damaged area is small you will have to clean an area of a 6-inch radius.

Now you have to remove the paint from the area you cleaned down to the metal using sandpaper. The higher the grit of the sandpaper the smoother it will be. Now wash the area again with soap water and apply the primer. Let the primer dry, and use sandpaper to smoothen it.

Now we can get to the paint. Using a spray can give you the best possible finish. You do not need paint anywhere other than the damaged area. So use masking tape and cover it up. Now you can spray the paint over the damaged area. Make sure to pick the exact shade as the color of your car.

Repeat the painting process a few times until it looks perfect. You have the paint dry completely before you apply the next cote. Apply a layer of clear coat and you are done.

Even though this method is hard and tedious than the previous methods, it has no limitations. No matter how big the damage is, by using this method you will be able to fix it.

how to fix chipped paint on car

When To Seek Professional Help To Fix Your Car’s Chipped Paint?

Sometimes the paint is damaged beyond repair, and it is hard to fix the damage yourself. In times like these, the only answer for, how to fix chipped paint on a car is to seek professional help.

Knowing when to seek professional help can save you a lot of money. If your damage is small and a DIY fix is possible, you can save money by implementing the job yourself and not pay a professional to do it. If your damage is extensive and you choose to take the job into your hands, you could do more harm than good, damaging the paint even more.

So when do you need to seek professional help? It is advisable if you see extensive damage, choosing a professional for the job is best. If the chip exposes the base metal that is another sign that you should seek a professional.

As mentioned earlier, the professional method to fix your chipped paint can fix almost any damage. But not everyone can handle the task and make it look pretty. Sometimes the only way to gain these skills is by repetition and experience is something only the professionals have.

Even if you are comfortable with using sandpaper and repainting the whole area sometimes it could be a bad idea. This is especially true when the chip has rusted. Rust is a problem for chip repairs as the paint cannot adhere to rusty metal. With prolonged exposure, the rust could have traveled a decent distance through the paint.

It is hard to identify how long the rust could have traveled. If it has traveled a long distance painting over the area can be very difficult. So it is best to leave rusted metal to experts.

How Long Does It Take To Rust?

This could be another concern among users. How long does it take for exposed metal to rust? By knowing how long it takes for the body to rust could give you valuable information on how to go about fixing your paint chip.

The time that it takes to rust depends on many factors. First of all, it depends on the size of the damage. If your chip was caused by a tiny stone while speeding through the highway, the chip would be small. When the damage is small, the rusting process happens slowly.

On the other hand, if the chipping in your paint ended up exposing a lot of metal, then the rusting process happens really fast. Depending on the size of the chip, you would have to hustle accordingly.

Some factors can accelerate rusting. Constant exposure to salt, air, and water will greatly accelerate corrosion on your car. Even the smallest chip can rust quickly if you are bombarded by salty wind gusts. Other than the rust, salt particles could crawl into the paint when an opening is created by a chip.

Another factor that accelerates rusting, is ice-cold weather. When you are driving in snow or ice, small ice particles could get stuck where your paint is chipped. When this melts, it increases moisture near the metal. This can accelerate corrosion.

Depending on the size of the damage, the area you live in, and the weather corrosion could differently affect your car. You should keep this in mind if you are dealing with chipped paint.

Simple Hacks On How To Fix Chipped Paint On Car

The paint pen method is by far the easiest. But if the chip is tiny or it is just a scratch that has damaged your paint, there are some hacks that could make your life even easier, and won’t cost you a dime. These hacks work fine if the damage is minor, but if you are suffering from decent-sized paint damage these won’t be much effective.

The first option is to use toothpaste. This is a popular hack to fix small scratches in the paint. First, you have to clean the area just like the previous DIY fixes. You could use soap water or rubbing alcohol to clean the scratch.

Now all you have to do is apply some toothpaste to the damaged area using a microfibre towel. After applying the toothpaste let it dry for about 10 minutes. This will leave a white stain on the area you applied the toothpaste. Wipe it off with a microfibre cloth and your car will be fine. Any brand is likely to work, but results may vary depending on the grittiness of the formula.

Another method is to use car wax. It works similar to how toothpaste works. And the method to use it is also the same. Clean the area and apply the car wax to the damaged area.

If you are looking for a temporary fix, and you do not have a lot of resources at hand, any oily substance like WD-40 can give a short-term solution. The shine that an oily substance offers, is enough to mask the scratch. The hack will only work until the substance washes away, and upon closer look, the scratch will be visible.

Car Paint Chip Repair Facts:

  • Small paint chips and dings in cars should be fixed as soon as possible to prevent rust from forming.
  • Fresh chips can be fixed with a simple procedure using denatured alcohol, matches, polishing compounds, and touch-up paint.
  • Rust spots or chips with dents require a more challenging repair.
  • Cleaning the paint chip with soap and water and drying it with a soft cotton cloth is the first step.
  • Rubbing a dab of automotive polishing compound over the paint chip softens ragged edges, but too much rubbing can damage the clear coat and create a cloudy mess.
  • Cleaning the finish with denatured alcohol removes any wax or remaining grime, but it shouldn’t flood the surface.
  • Applying a spot of primer with the butt end of a paper match and filling the area within the car paint chip with it is the next step.
  • Touch-up paint can be bought online or from dealers, and spray paint with the right color number can be applied with a fine artist’s brush.
  • Paint the chip with a small amount of touch-up paint over the primer coat, testing the color on a piece of paper first.
  • Doing the repair in direct sunlight or at temperatures below 50 degrees F should be avoided.

Verdict – How To Fix Chipped Paint On Car

There are dozens of scenarios where your car paint can easily get chipped. You can only protect your car to an extent, and if you decide to drive your car on the road and not keep it parked in your garage chipped paint is inevitable. Whenever the paint is chipped the question arises, how to fix chipped paint on the car?

There are many ways to fix chipped paint on your car. They vary in difficulty and cost. Ultimately the damage to your car will decide which method your use to fix your paint job. Leaving damaged paint to sit for too long is not a good idea, so you should make sure to fix it as soon as possible before the damage becomes extensive.

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