As we emerge from snowmageddon, it is time to look for paint damage from salt and sand. Touching up those spots is quick and easy and will save you money.
Automotive paint is always being hammered with road debris and sand, but in winter the trucks are throwing salt and sand down daily. This stuff may save your bacon on an icy morning, but it will chip the paint on your car down to bare metal in some cases. Left untreated, the spots will rust. Worse, the corrosion can migrate under the paint layer. Eventually, holes will form, and your ride will have been permanently damaged.
Fortunately, if you spend a few minutes each spring dealing with these small chips they can be repaired and further damage will be prevented. The first step is a good wash. Resist the urge to wax your ride right away. Chip repair is always best done on an un-waxed car. After you wash the car, look for the small chips on the front, the mirrors, and the A-pillars from impacts. If you passed a salt truck this winter, you might also have damage on the sides.
Touch-up paint is available from your dealer, but companies like AutomotiveTouchUp come with primer and clear coat to make the job look better and last longer. The first step is to determine if the spot has exposed the metal. If so and if that metal has started to rust, consider sanding that spot with the tip of a pencil covered with very fine grit sandpaper. It is better not to paint over the rust. If you have bare metal, you should first prime the spot. If you don’t have a complete kit, spray a bit of metal paint primer into a paper cup and use a toothpick to apply the primer. After letting it dry you can apply the touch-up paint.
If you have not done this in a while, you will be pleased to know that the bottles are more user-friendly now. The small nail polish brush is in there for big patches, but most touch up paints now also have a pen-type applicator. Having done this a few times, we will say that most of the time the OEM pens are reluctant to flow the paint. Be sure you look at the directions. Some require that you remove a small collar inside the bottle and then reassemble the dispenser. The pen works much better than a brush because it allows you add the paint more slowly.
The most important part of applying touch up paint is to resist the urge to do it all in one step. Use as little paint as possible to coat the inside of the chip. Then let it dry. Then apply more to build the paint up to the level of the surrounding paint. Otherwise, your repair will be more visible. Some kits come with clear-coat which will be your final layer. Once you are finished, let the car sit overnight. New paint may be dry, but still soft. Give it a chance to harden before exposing it to road grime.