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DIY: Repairing Paint Chips

The moment you have been dreading has arrived. You have to go to the mall in your beautiful, expensive, brand new car.
» Part 1: Getting It Fixed
» Part 2: Let's Start Painting
» Part 3: Chipped Off

The first thing to do is to mask off the area around the chip with masking tape up to a ¼" around the chip. Now using lacquer thinner or alcohol clean the area of dirt, wax and road grime from inside and around the chip. Use a clean, lint free cloth. Do not use any type of paper towel or tissue. If the chip goes down to bare metal, use some 40 grit emery cloth to scratch up the metal so the primer and paint will have something to grab on to. Make sure any rust that may have formed is cleaned out as well.

Using the applicator brush or a toothpick, I use the end of a paper match myself, coat the bare metal with the primer. Try not to get it on any of the paint, just the bare metal. You want a smooth layer, just enough to cover the bare metal, with no bumps or lumps. Let this dry for at least 24 hours.

This is where patience and a steady hand comes in. With you applicator apply a nice thin even layer of paint with no bumps or lumps. Don't go and try to do fill the whole chip in, but do make sure you get paint in all the corners. If you get a little sloppy use a cotton swap with a little bit of lacquer thinner to clean up any excess paint.

Leave the applicator out for about 30 seconds if the paint is too thin. If it's too thick, add about six or eight drops of lacquer thinner to the tube of touch up paint and shake very well. Start out with a small amount of lacquer thinner and add one or two drops if necessary. It's much harder to remove lacquer thinner form the paint than it is to add it.

Once you're done, let it sit for another 24 hours. The paint will shrink quite a bit as it dries. That's why we don't want to use too much. If it starts to get lumpy, use some 800-grit Wet/Dry sandpaper. Just sand the new paint you don't want to mess up the surrounding, good, paint.

Now repeat this procedure until the pain is almost flush with the surrounding paint. You want to leave a small recess for the clear coat. This will probably be only one or two coats of paint. More if the area has been repainted once before.

Wait about a week, a little longer if the weather is a bit cool, and coat the damaged area with the clear coat. If all has been going well you might be able to simply build up the clear coat to the level of the original paint without overlapping and it will be, nearly, invisible.

If things have not gone so good you'll have to blend the repair with the factor paint. Apply the clear coat about a ¼" around the damaged area. Keep doing this over a few days allowing for drying and shrinkage. Keep doing this until you've built it up a couple of thousandths of an inch. A little bit more than the thickness of a sheet of loose leaf paper. Allow this to dry and shrink in the sun for at least a week.

When it's good and set you can, very carefully, sand it with 800-grit Wet/Dry sandpaper to blend it all in. This will leave a dull finish so you will need to follow up with some medium to fine polishing compound and a soft lint free cloth. This will make the repair nice and shiny.

Part 1       » Part 2
       » Part 3

Additional Information provided courtesy of and Warranty Direct
© 2000-2007 Vincent T. Ciulla

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