How Do I Fix Damaged Paint On My Car? 5 Simple Steps

27 October 2022 Automotive

You can never completely protect your car paintwork against scratches and chips. An oncoming vehicle flicking up loose stones, an incompetent driver reversing in a car park or passing too closely on the road can do damage in seconds. Sometimes the damage is superficial and just annoying, but if it has penetrated the paint’s protective layer and exposed bare metal, corrosion can quickly cause more serious damage.

If you would like to care for your car and prevent small scratches from becoming big problems (and who wouldn’t) you can do this in five easy steps.

Cleaning And Preparing The Damaged Paint

Start with giving the whole car a good wash. This will help you assess the damage more accurately and remove any dust, grease or specks of dirt that can easily find their way onto your wet paintwork and spoil the job. Rinse it thoroughly and make sure it’s completely dry before moving to the next stage.

Now it’s time to take a close look at the damaged paint. If the paint and primer have both been damaged and bare metal is visible, check for rust as this will need to be removed to prevent it from spreading.

Mask off the adjacent surfaces to protect them against overspray and apply primer where required.

For small areas of bare metal or plastic, an epoxy primer such as ToughOX 2K should be sufficient, although deeper scratches may require a filler primer such as ProPrime may be required. Both of these products come in a handy 500ml aerosol and are suitable for use on metal and plastic.

If the area requiring primer is extremely small, the primer can be sprayed into a small cup (or the lid of the aerosol) and applied with the end of a matchstick.

When the primer is dry, lightly sand it to a smooth finish. If you wish, you can use ProXL Dry Guide Coat to check for pinholes and other blemishes that will show once the paint has been applied. This product is a fine black powder that when spread over the area with the integral applicator, quickly highlights the blemishes so they can be removed. Watch our video to see how it works.

If primer isn’t required, use a paint-cutting compound such as ProCut to remove a thin layer of paint from the surrounding paintwork. This will prepare the area and make it easier to blend the new paint with the old. Apply the compound in a circular pattern to an area of two centimetres around the damage.

When you have finished with the paint-cutting compound wash and dry the area thoroughly to remove all traces of compound.

Applying The Paint Coat

Small scratches may only require a touch-up paint pen, while extensive damage and where the primer has been used, an aerosol will be required. Both products are widely available from most motor factors, while some specialist automotive painting supplies shops can exactly match the paint to the car’s model, colour and year of manufacture.

Follow the instructions on the can to apply the paint, giving particular attention to the distance between the can and the surface, the motion used while spraying and the drying time between coats. Take care to blend the new and old paint where they overlap.

Adding A Protective Clear Coat Lacquer

A clear lacquer will not only protect the paint coat but will give it the same factory-finish shine as the original. For a professional finish we recommend Pro 2k Clear which is a genuine isocyanate two-pack lacquer supplied in a convenient aerosol. Suitable respiratory protection – available from auto painter supplies shops – must be worn while using this product.

Follow the instructions on the can to apply the clear coat, and when it is dry, remove all masking. The clear coat should be left for 24-48 hours to fully harden before continuing with the next stage.

Creating A Smooth Surface

Even if you use a professional spray gun to apply it, your top coat lacquer won’t be entirely smooth and will likely have a fine ‘orange-peel’ texture. This will need to be removed so that the repairs blend in next to the original.

This can be achieved either by using a cutting compound or wet and dry paper. Whichever method you choose, work in a circular motion and only apply light pressure. If you are using wet and dry paper, always keep the paper and lacquer surface wet and start with 1,500 grit paper, working up in stages to 2,500 grit. Take particular care with edges, as cutting compound and wet and dry paper will quickly penetrate the lacquer at these points.

Polishing To A Professional Finish

The previous stage will have left a slightly satin or matt finish on the paintwork, which can now be polished to an extremely high gloss shine. To complete this stage you will need a fine finish polish such as ProFinish and a microfibre cloth. For larger areas, a medium polishing pad on an electric polisher (inexpensive models can be bought from motor factors) will make the job easier and more consistent.

Apply some polish to the microfibre cloth or polishing pad and lightly spread it across the area to be polished. If using an electric polisher, do this before switching on the polisher. Now you can start to polish the surface, working in small sections. Make sure the cloth or pad remains moist with polish at all times as a dry cloth or pad can generate heat that will damage the lacquer.

Periodically clean the area to see where more polishing is required, and when you have finished polishing, wash the whole area thoroughly to remove all traces of polish.

Repairing car paintwork is a skill that requires patience and practice. Unless you are sure you can achieve a satisfactory result we would recommend using a professional, but if you are confident or would like to try your hand at car paint repair, car refinish supplies company ProXL gives you quality products with the convenience of an aerosol that are used by the professionals.

For more information on our range visit and for help and advice contact us or call 01634 823900.