Simple Step to Paint Chip Repair
Auto Parts

Step By Steps Paint Car Paint Chip Repair

My truck has been on the road for over 100,000 miles. It has seen it's share of road debris. Over time my truck hood has accumulated several chips in the paint. Some of the chips have gotten worse over time and so now is a good time to repair them for aesthetics and as a preventative measure.

The steps to repair a paint chip for your vehicle are: sanding, cleaning, add primer, and then paint. For an almost unnoticeable repair some additional step are needed, including more sanding, more painting, and buffing with a compound. They easiest is to get a touch up kit with only 3 steps.

I have never painted a car, but have painted my house several times. I know that over time I have felt the fatigue of painting for long periods. For my truck, I'm more inclined to go with an easier and faster solution. Although, with some of the chips that have rust I'll need to take more steps to prevent further problems and get a professional look. 

What Size Chip Do You Have?

pin sized or bigger paint chip

Size does matter when painting chips. If you have tiny pin sized chips, a simple paint and acetone kit will do the job with good results in just a few minutes. Bigger pen sized chips can still be painted with a quick kit but will be noticeable upon getting closer to the car. 

A paint chip touch up pen can also work to cover the chip and protect your car from getting rusty and helping the car look better. 

To get good results with pen sized chips or bigger, you may want to sand, clean, prime, paint, use clear coat, and buff with a compound. This process will take a while but will be much less noticeable upon closer inspection. 

If your chips have any rust damage, then sanding will be the first step before anything else.  You may also use a chemical rust remover for rust

What Options are Available?

There are many ways to repair paint chips. Here are three methods we'll discuss in this article.

Touch Up Pen

Touch Up Kit

DYI Paint Chip Repair

Results: OK

Results: Good

Results: Very good

Pens can be a good quick way to help you protect your car.

They will help your car look better as long as you are careful with application and get the correct color.

There are various ways to use a pen and they can give you similar results as a touch up kit.

Touch Up Pen Repair


Clean the area with isopropyl alcohol to remove any waxes.

Use a Q-tip or cloth to get into the chips and remove any dirt and wax.


Apply Primer

Practice using primer pen  before apply primer to chip. 

Primer may not be needed unless the chip goes down to the metal.

Dab the primer onto the chip to ensuring complete contact with exposed metal.

Primer should not fill the chip but cover the entire exposed metal area. 

Let dry.


Add the paint.

Practice using paint pen before apply to chip. 

Paint should not fill the chip.

If you are not using clear coat then you can fill chip entirely.


Dabbing the paint carefully into the chip is usually the best method for filling.

Let dry.


Add the clear coat.

Practice applying a layer on paper if necessary. 

The clear should fill the chip.

Let dry and add a second layer if the chip is not entirely filled. 

Dabbing the paint carefully into the chip is usually the best method for filling.

Although not supplied with pen kits, using a rubbing compound to smooth out the chip area may help it look smoother and more flush with the rest of the car surface.

A touch up kit will help your car look like a more professional job is done with many of the chips. 

The application is easy and fast. It may not completely create a flush finish with the rest of the paint surface with some of the chips.

With small chips this is a great way to fill in chip quickly.

Kit Repair


Clean the area with provided solution or with  isopropyl alcohol to remove any waxes.

Washing your car may also work if it is not waxed.


Apply Paint

If primer is not need apply paint by dabbing or letting it flow into the chip.

Try not to brush the paint.

Fill the chip completely.

In this video they apply paint to a scratch using a kit. (Although, I would try not to brush the paint.)


Wipe Off Excess

Using the instruction, wipe off the excess paint with the solution included.

The goal is to wipe away the excess paint without wiping any paint away from the chip.

See video for advise and how to wipe off excess.


Use the Rubbing Compound If Needed

Follow the directions for your kit.

If you have a rubbing compound, you can apply it to help the chips to look smooth.

Compound may be more useful with areas that have scratches.

Taking time to do all the steps for a professional paint job will take a while but will create a great finish. 

You will need to take your time with each step to ensure that it is done well. 

If you decide to do this, you might want to do all the chips at once because it is so intensive.

DYI Chip Repair


Identify and Sand 

Sheets of sand paper

Find each chip and sand with 1000-2500 grit sandpaper. Finer grit will help you get more control over your sanding.

Using water while sanding will help create smoother sanding motion and a better finish.


Clean the Chips

Use isopropyl alcohol or a lacquer thinner to clean each chip.

isopropyl alcohol

Washing your car may be all that is necessary for cleaning the chips, but if you think there could be any wax on the car, be sure to clean each chip before priming. 

Let dry.


Apply Primer

Practice using primer pen, tool, or brush before apply to chip. 

Apply primer if needed. Some chips go down to the metal and this is when primer is needed.

Dab the primer, ensuring contact with exposed metal.

Primer should not fill the chip but cover the entire exposed metal area. 

Let dry about an hour. Refer to instructions.



Apply Paint

many paint brushes and watercolors arranged

Using a fine tipped brush, toothpick,  or a tool for applying paint will help you get enough paint to fill the crack. 

Apply enough to just about fill it if you are going to add a clear coat. 

If you are applying paint with clear coat included, apply enough to completely fill crack. 

Wait for the paint to dry and see if you need to add a second layer paint with clear coat.

If your paint doesn't have clear coat in it, leave room for the clear coat to fill the rest of the chip. 

Let dry about 24 hours. Although you may be able to apply clear coat after 1-2 hours. Read instructions on paint container.

See video for tools you can use and advise.


Add the Clear Coat

Add the clear coat after the paint has dried. Be sure to add enough to fill the chip.

After an hour or two check to see if the clear coat need another coat to fill the chip and add another coat if needed.

Let dry for 1 - 2 days. Check directions on clear coat.


Apply Rubbing Compound

Car polish wax worker hands holding polisher and polish. Close up at hand holding car polisher. Man holds a polisher in the hand and polishes the car. Car detailing

After everything is dry, use a cutting/rubbing compound to smooth out the surface of the clear coat so it matches the surrounding paint. This may take some time. 

If you get aggressive compound it will be faster to buff the area smooth, but you may accidentally get swirl marks if you buff too much. 

If you get a more gentle cutting cream, it will remove any bumps and leave the surface smooth, but it may take a while. Your less likely to get any marks leftover with a gentler compound. 

Here's a complete from beginning to end video for DIY chip repair.

When fixing chips in your car's paint you'll need to decide on how long you you are willing to take and what level of result you want to get. 

Which Method to choose?

needed for paint chips repair

There are more methods for repairing chips and painting than I have mentioned. Each has it's pros and cons. I think most people would opt for one of the three methods above, or a combination of them.

The best method will be the one that takes into consideration how much time and effort your willing to take to fix your chips. You also need to consider how professional the job will look when finished.

My personal methods would be to get a chip repair kit because it is very easy to use. It may not look perfect after your done, but it will look good and provide protection.

Chip Repair Products

Touch Up Pens

Easy to use pens that help you cover your paint chips.

  • This kit comes with cleaner, primer, paint, and clear coat.
  • Colors available for many cars. 
  • Easy to use and store away for next time needed.

Chip Repair Kit

Easy to use system that is very quick with good results.

  • Includes the paint, cleaning solution for smooth finish, paste, and wax.
  • Colors available for many cars. 
  • Comes in an easy to store away box.

DYI Chip Repair

You'll need to buy many different products, including: sandpaper, cleaning solution, possibly primer, paint, clear coat, and rubbing compound.

  • Excellent result if done properly.
  • Will take time but will look great when finished.
  • This can be a cheap option when using hands for sanding and buffing. 

Related Products You May Want

Rubbing Compound

Used to help remove scratches and smooth out your paint job.

  • Helps create a uniform look.
  • Helps entire surface of area look newer.
  • Can remove water spots.

Paint Chip Tool

Used to help drip paint into chip so it looks smooth.

  • Works on scratches and chips.
  • Easy to use for good accuracy.
  • Easy to clean after use.

Choose a method that works into your budget and time schedule, while considering the quality of how the job will be done. Soon you should be able to decide what is best for you.

Why Do It Yourself?

When your considering what to do repairing chips in your car's paint, you could be better off doing it yourself. Painting jobs at repair shops take time, effort, and cost lots of money. You can get similar results as some repair shops, if you take time to repair your own chips.

If your thinking about repainting an entire panel, that could become costly. So, to protect your car, save money, and help it look nice again, use a method mentioned above can help.


When repairing chips in your car's paint, repairing it at home can be fairly easy and have good results. If you want professionally looking results you can do that too. It will take more time and effort, but will look great.

So if you have any chips in your paint, why not try a method to fix it yourself, save money, have a nice looking car, and protecting your car from further damage.