How to Repair Chipped Paint on a Car

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Any number of things can cause the paint on your car to chip, including pings and dings, rock salt, bird droppings and fender-benders. If left unattended, what began as a small area can spread and rust. Avoid those unsightly spots by following these steps to repair chipped paint on your car.

Things You'll Need

  • Car detergent
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Soft rag
  • Fiberglass pencil
  • Fine paint brush
  • Sandpaper (1500 and 2000 grit)
  • Foam rubber sanding block
  • Rubbing compound
  • Car wax or polish
  • Clean the surface to be repaired with a mixture of car detergent and water. Apply with a sponge or soft rag. Rinse off all the soap and let the area dry.

  • Remove any rust and loose paint with a fiberglass pencil. Fiberglass dust is an irritant so keep it away from your eyes, don't inhale and wash your hands frequently.

  • Purchase a bottle of paint from your local car dealer or automotive parts store that most closely matches the vehicle's manufacturer's color. Mix thoroughly and thin if necessary.

  • Apply light layers of paint over the clean area. Brush close to  and slightly higher than  the surrounding paint. Allow paint to dry for several hours before applying another layer and 24 hours for the drying the final coat to dry. Generally, you'll need 3 to 4 coats.

  • Sand the raised paint with a sanding block covered with 1500 grit sandpaper. Rinse the sandpaper periodically with water to cleanse.

  • Avoid sanding the surrounding paint. It's thinner and will not withstand much pressure.

  • Switch to a 2000 grit sandpaper when the two paints reach the same height. Give the repaired area final sand before buffing with rubbing compound and a soft rag.

  • Apply car wax or polish to protect the new paint.

Tips & Warnings

  • Immediately dry any bare metal to avoid rusting.
  • The longer you wait in between coats, the better the finish.
  • The quality of repair depends on how closely the paint colors match.
  • Bubbles will appear if the paint thick or dry.
  • Do not over sand the repair area.
  • Paint doesn't adhere to wax, grease or silicone.

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