Chip Off the Old Block: How to Fix Chips and Scratches in Your Car’s Paint

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It starts with a tiny scratch, then a chip here and there. Over time, even minor scratches, nicks, and chips can ruin a car’s appearance and expose the bare metal underneath the paint. Once rust sets in, it will spread to other areas. Which is a true nightmare for any car owner! Here are a few easy and reliable DIY car care methods to fix auto body damage like scratched paint and paint chips.

Dealing with Shallow Scratches

If you notice fingernail scratches around your car’s door handles or blemishes caused by an automatic car wash, simply apply a little extra elbow grease and buff it out.

What You’ll Need:

You will need a microfiber towel and a quality scratch remover that works as a cleaner and a polisher to remove minor paint scratches.


  1. Wash your car with warm soapy water and let it dry. 
  1. Use the scratch remover and a microfiber towel to apply the remover over the damaged area. 
  1. Rub firmly for at least a minute and let it dry. 
  1. Use a clean microfiber towel to remove the product. 
  1. Repeat the process if needed. 

Fixing Wide and Deep Scratches

Painting the Car/Image Credit: Aliaksandr Yarmashchuk

It will take more effort and a lot more elbow grease to fix if the scratch penetrated the base paint.

What You’ll Need:

Use 2,000 grit sandpaper. It sounds scary, but it works. You’ll also need tape, automotive primer or an undercoat, matching paint, lacquer thinner, cotton swabs, and a polishing compound.


  1. Wash and dry your car thoroughly. 
  1. Use the sandpaper in one direction on the affected area. Sand it down until you see the metal. 
  1. Tape the area off to protect the rest of the paintwork. 
  1. Apply an automotive undercoat with a paint sprayer or brush. Before application, read the instructions carefully, as it varies between products. Pay close attention to how long it takes to dry, as the undercoat has to be completely dry before you apply the paint. 
  1. Apply it from the center of the affected area outwards towards the edges. If you accidentally go over the edge, use a cotton swab dipped in lacquer thinner to wipe the primer off. 
  1. Wait for the undercoat to dry.  
  1. When it’s dry, wet sand the area to prepare it for the paint. Beware not to sand through the surrounding clear coat. 
  1. Paint over the area with the matching paint. 
  1. When the paint is cured, use a polishing compound. 

Getting Rid of Nicks and Rock Chips 

Preparing for painting/Image Credit: toktak_kondesign

Getting rid of chips and nicks is not as difficult as you might think. All you need is time to allow the layers to dry and the right color paint to match your car.

What You’ll Need:

Preparation is the key to getting the job done right. Get yourself some fine 1000-grit 3M wet or dry sandpaper, rust remover, tweezers, and the paint that matches your car.

Method for Minor Nicks:

  1. Wash your car to get rid of wax build-up and let it dry. 
  1. If the chip is tiny, use a paint pen. Use enough paint to allow for shrinkage. Excess paint can be wet sanded and buffed down. 
  1. If the chips are on the hood, lift the hood horizontal to the ground to prevent the paint from running. 

Method for Medium Chips:

  1. Use the tweezers to clean out any dirt and debris inside the chip. 
  1. Apply undercoat as directed on the product with the applicator brush. 
  1. When you are sure that the undercoat is cured, apply the paint. 
  1. Wet sand, apply the clear coat, and wet sand again. 
  1. Buff the paint smooth. 

Method for Large Chips:

  1. Using the tweezers, work carefully to get rid of loose paint without causing more damage. You will need to remove the loose paint to prevent flaking after repair. 
  1. Use a swab to apply the remover in the chip to dissolve the corrosion. Continue to swab the spot until all the corrosion is removed or the paint won’t stick properly, and the corrosion will continue to spread under the paint.  
  1. Rinse the remover out with isopropyl alcohol. 
  1. Carefully sand the chip to avoid damaging the paint around the chip.  
  1. Apply an undercoat. 
  1. Paint touch-ups with a brush will not give you the perfect finish. At the least, it will look better, seal the metal, and prevent corrosion. Use just a little paint on the brush. Apply thin coats. 
  1. When the paint is dry, sand it until the surface is smooth. 
  1. Apply the clear coat. 
  1. Apply a rubbing compound with a cotton cloth. This will clean and shine and remove any imperfections on the surface. 
  1. Wash your car thoroughly to clean off the rubbing compound. 
  1. Wait at least seven days after repairs before you wax your car. 

With just a little bit of time, effort, and elbow grease, you can get rid of any damage that might lead to corrosion, thus avoiding a costly trip to the body shop! For those of you curious about other, more creative ways to simultaneously customize your vehiclewhile protecting the paint underneath, check out our blog post on vinyl wrapping. And If you’re still on the hunt for that brand new ride you’re gonna pamper and care for, start your search here at

Car Care | DIY | do it yourself | paint chips | paint scratches

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