How to Fix Large Paint Chips on Your Car
How to Fix Large Paint Chips on Your Car
Posted on December 12, 2023
Dealing with unsightly large paint chips on your car? Don't fret! This article will guide you through the process of fixing them yourself. From cleaning the affected area to applying the perfect touch-up paint, we've got you covered.
We'll delve into the nitty-gritty of removing rust, smoothing out edges, and prepping the surface for a new coat of paint. You'll learn how to take care of those chips that are a few inches in diameter and could potentially expose your car's bare metal to the elements.
Why Fixing Large Paint Chips is Important
The appearance of your car speaks volumes. This not only includes the brand or make, but how well-maintained it appears. Imagine driving a high-end vehicle with large, untreated paint chips – it contradicts the luxury you're trying to showcase. While it may seem trivial, addressing paint chips, especially those larger than a toonie, is critical in many ways.
Protect Your Car's Metal from Rust
Larger paint chips expose your vehicle's bare metal. One fact that we cannot overlook is these chips and untreated paint defects often lead to the onset of rust. Once rust starts, it doesn't stop. The rust gnaws at the body of your car, causing extensive and, in severe cases, irreversible damage. This can then make your vehicle worthless or lead to costly restoration outlays.
Road debris, errant belt buckles, and inconsiderate onlookers can be your paint's worst enemies. So those chips? They're inevitable. When signs of rust start appearing, it's advisable to halt its progression. This could involve removing crusted, scaly rust with a sandpaper or treating it with rust converter chemicals formula. Ensure to sand the edges of the chip until less distinct, showcasing the importance of a thorough job. Remember to wash the area after sanding to remove any new sediment. On to the next step only after the primer dries out completely.
Maintain the Value of Your Car
Besides protecting the metal, tackling large paint chips maintains the overall value of your car. If you're leasing, selling, or even trading in your vehicle, it will likely be in your favour to have any chips or scratches repaired before doing so. Potential buyers would be more attracted to a well-maintained car, while dealers could justify higher trade-in values.
Assessing the Damage
Fixing large paint chips on your car starts with evaluating the extent of the damage. Doing this will help you determine the best course of action for repairing the damage and ensure you don't face more serious problems down the line.
Determine the Extent of the Paint Chip
Firstly, take a close look at each chip on your car's surface. Pay attention to the size, depth, and number. If the chips are smaller than pencil erasers, about a quarter-inch in diameter, and your car paint is non-metallic, a touch-up paint pen is highly recommended. This is generally the easiest solution for small car paint chip repair tasks.
For larger chips, especially ones exposing the bare metal of your car, you're looking at a more complex repair process that may involve sanding, priming, and applying multiple layers of paint. Assessing the size and depth of the chip is crucial, as it guides your next steps. If the chip has penetrated to the bare metal, you'll need to apply primer to create a suitable base for your paint.
Check for Any Underlying Damage
Importantly, when inspecting the damage, don't just stop at the surface level. Check for any potential underlying damage, particularly rust that could compromise your car. If rust is present and extends underneath areas such as windshield gaskets, it might be necessary to remove adjacent components to fully address the problem.
In such cases, consider seeking professional help. As you're not only dealing with surface-level cosmetic damage, but also potentially corrosive, structural damage to your car. Handling this kind of repair on your own without the right skills and tools could even lead to more problems.
Lastly, it's important to remember that unattended paint chips can cause even more damage down the line. You'll need to keep a wary eye on their development. Even mundane tasks like driving in regular conditions can lead to further chipping and scratching of your car's paint, especially in areas like the front bumper and hood. Regular assessment and prompt repairs will help you maintain your car's appearance and value.
So, if you notice a chip—don't delay! The sooner you assess and take care of it, the better your car will look, and the less likely it is you'll encounter major damage.
Applying Touch-Up Paint
After you've carefully evaluated the damage, chosen your tools, and prepared yourself for some intense detailing, the next step is actually applying the paint.
Choose the Right Paint Colour
Identifying the correct paint colour for your car is crucial. The type of paint you use can significantly affect the outcome of your repair. In most cases, it's truly best to consult with a professional painter to help you identify paint colours and types. However, don't expect to simply walk into a local paint store and have them match your car's paint colour perfectly, especially for older car models.
Apply Multiple Thin Layers
Once you've selected the right paint, it's time to take action. Keep in mind, your car paint was originally applied in several layers to achieve the robust finish it has. In order to replicate this, you'll need to apply your touch-up paint in multiple thin layers, allowing each to dry before adding the next.
Keep in mind that the paint used on your car is catalyzed, which means it is mixed with a hardener to increase its strength. On the other hand, pre-mixed touch-up paint is not catalyzed and will be softer than the paint on your car now.
Smoothing and Buffing
After the careful application of touch-up paint and hours of patient drying time, detailed smoothing and buffing become the key to a seamless finish.
Sand Down the Painted Surface
Before you jump right into buffing, it's vital to first sand down the freshly painted surface. Always use a fine-grit 1500 or 2000 sandpaper to delicately rough up the surface and flatten it out for better integration with the touch-up paint. Remember to soak your sandpaper in water prior to sanding — a technique known as 'wet sanding'.
Focus your efforts on areas with small chips, using the narrower end of a sanding block to minimize the impact on undamaged surrounding paint. Once the repair area is dry, apply a second round of wet sanding with 1000-grit sandpaper. Repeat this process with patience and care until you're satisfied with the finish.
Buff the Area for a Smooth Finish
Prepared to offer your vehicle a 'restored look', an electric buffer serves as a professional detailer's best friend. Coupling it with hand applicator pads and pads specifically designed for wax and rubbing compound are essential for an optimum result.
Once your paint is complete and dry, the final step involves protecting it from the harsh external factors like dirt and harmful UV rays. A good-quality Carnauba wax comes highly recommended for this purpose.
Performing touch-up work requires keen observation. Invest in a bright flashlight or similar source of light to inspect the repaired part of your car. With a smooth and buffed finish, your paint repair should now look approximately 85-95% better up close, and be practically unnoticeable from a few feet away.
After diligently sanding, buffing and applying touch-up paint, finalizing the overall process requires careful attention. The final process isn't merely about what you see but also what you can't. This involves ensuring seamless blending with the existing paint and a leveled, gleaming finish. It's a distinct area where automotive touch-up and chip repair truly shines.
Apply Clear Coat
Post paint application, your task isn't quite done yet. Once your base coat is impressively dry, apply 2-3 coats of an Acrylic Clear. Remember to allow a drying window of at least four hours, or better off, overnight.
Blend the Repair into the Surrounding Paint
Once your clear coat has sufficiently dried, step back and admire your work. Can you spot the repair, or is it smoothly blended with the existing paint? This is where your bright flashlight can come in handy. Inspect the paint closely, then from a few car lengths away. Does anything seem off in different lighting conditions, whether in the sun or the shade?
You've now got all the knowledge you need to tackle those large paint chips on your car. Remember, it's all about the details. Applying that final clear coat will not only give your car a glossy finish but also provide UV protection.
Patience, precision, and perseverance are your best friends in this process.
For that final touch, don't forget to detail with a professional-grade compound and wax. And if you're looking for extra protection, consider a gel-coated epoxy sealant or ceramic coating. With these steps, you're well on your way to restoring your car's paint job to its former glory.