How to Repair Chipped Paint on a Car

by Contributor

Any number of things can cause the paint on your car to chip, including pings and dings, rock salt, bird droppings and fender-benders. If left unattended, what began as a small area can spread and rust. Avoid those unsightly spots by following these steps to repair chipped paint on your car.

Clean the surface to be repaired with a mixture of car detergent and water. Apply with a sponge or soft rag. Rinse off all the soap and let the area dry.

Remove any rust and loose paint with a fiberglass pencil. Fiberglass dust is an irritant so keep it away from your eyes, don't inhale and wash your hands frequently.

Purchase a bottle of paint from your local car dealer or automotive parts store that most closely matches the vehicle's manufacturer's color. Mix thoroughly and thin if necessary.

Apply light layers of paint over the clean area. Brush close to  and slightly higher than  the surrounding paint. Allow paint to dry for several hours before applying another layer and 24 hours for the drying the final coat to dry. Generally, you'll need 3 to 4 coats.

Sand the raised paint with a sanding block covered with 1500 grit sandpaper. Rinse the sandpaper periodically with water to cleanse.

Avoid sanding the surrounding paint. It's thinner and will not withstand much pressure.

Switch to a 2000 grit sandpaper when the two paints reach the same height. Give the repaired area final sand before buffing with rubbing compound and a soft rag.

Apply car wax or polish to protect the new paint.


  • check Immediately dry any bare metal to avoid rusting.
  • check The longer you wait in between coats, the better the finish.
  • check The quality of repair depends on how closely the paint colors match.
  • check Bubbles will appear if the paint thick or dry.


  • close Do not over sand the repair area.
  • close Paint doesn't adhere to wax, grease or silicone.

Items you will need

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