How to Repair Deep Paint Chips and Scratches on Your Car

Don’t assume that you have to pay an auto body repair shop to fix minor chips and scratches in your car’s paint. The cost of a chipped or scratched paint repair can be absurdly expensive when done by a professional. You can do it yourself with some touchup paint and a few extra materials from an automotive parts store and a hobby store. This process will work on metal panels, plastic panels, doors, fenders, hoods, and bumpers.
First, buy some one part automotive fill putty from your local auto parts store. It’s usually red. Also get a rubber squeegee, some masking tape, some rubbing compound, and some 1500 grit sandpaper.

At the hobby store or art supply store, you’ll want to get the finest tip touch up brush they sell. Finally, at your car dealer or online, you’ll want to buy an auto paint kit mixed specifically for your car’s color.

Now clean the scratch with some window cleaner. Place masking paper above, below, and to the sides of the scratch so that you have framed it like a portrait.

Then apply a small amount of red putty into the scratch with the sandpaper until the scratch is filled completely. Remove the masking tape. The putty should go dry when it turns pink, in about 5 minutes.

Now lightly sand the pink putty with 1500 grit sandpaper until it is flat. Don’t worry if it hazes up your paint, as the rubbing compound will make your paint clear again soon. Keep sanding until all of the excess putty has been removed and you have a completely filled, completely smooth scratch or chip. If you find low spots or dents in the putty, apply more fresh red putty, allow to dry, then sand with 1500 grit until flat.

You will have sanded your paint beyond the damage, causing it to become hazy and dully. Apply a small amount of rubbing compound — about the amount of toothpaste you would apply to your toothbrush — to the hazy paint and rub in a circular motion with a cotton or microfiber towel for 60 – 90 seconds. Your paint should become glossy and clear. This may require multiple applications.

Now that you have filled the scratch, you will want to apply the minimum amount of paint over the putty necessary. Less is more! Bad touch-up repairs are the result of applying too much paint or using a brush that’s much larger than the damage itself. Therefore, dip your fine tipped touch up brush in your touch up paint, then apply over the putty, being careful not to apply excessive paint. One technique that reduces brush strokes is to apply the paint in small dots, connecting them from left to right, until done.

Once done, don’t be too critical of your repair! It will cost you less than five percent what a professional will charge, but be far better than a five percent visual improvement, so a carefully done scratch repair is well worth your time and investment.