Car Paint Chip Repair: A How to Guide and Average Repair Costs

April 5, 2012

Handling car chip paint repair yourself costs a fraction of what professionals charge. Learn to complete an auto chip paint repair project in 6 steps.

Car Paint Chip Repair

Car paint chip repair is the same as fixing a scratch. It is best to practice a few times on an area of the car that is not visible, as it can take some skill to make it look natural. Chips take longer to fix because it takes longer to blend in the new paint.

Materials and Tools

  • Paint pen or touch up auto paint
  • Paint primer
  • Cleaner
  • Solvent such as rubbing alcohol
  • Hand glaze
  • Sandpaper
  • Sanding block
  • Car wash
  • Cardboard box
  • Cotton towels
  • Pencils
  • Masking tape
  • Magnifying glass
  • Rubber glue

Car Paint Chip Repair, Step by Step

Check for safety

Before you do anything, you want to test all of your solvents and cleaners to make sure they are safe to use and will not pull any paint off. If you wipe away the products and there is paint on the rag, find another solvent or car wash that will not affect the paint job

Remove dirt

The day before you start, use the glue to attach sandpaper circles onto the ends of the pencils. Make sure the eraser has not been used and is flat. Then you want to thoroughly wash and dry the car to remove dirt, grit or dust

Clean and sand chip area

You may or may not need a primer depending on the severity of the chip. Clean any chip area with a degreaser. To get rid of rust, clean it with an eraser. Take your toothpicks and probe all around the chipped area to make sure the entire area is secure. Once you have the chip area ready, sand it down with your pencil sanders. Sand the chip area and a little bit of the paint around the chip. Make sure this spot is as small as possible, as the paint around the edges is needed to grab and secure the new paint

Wipe with alcohol

Once all the chips are sanded, use your rubbing alcohol to wipe away any grease, dust or oil. You should use a new rag and new alcohol dip for each chip. The alcohol dries very fast but you still need to wait until it is completely dry before progressing to the next step

Apply primer

If the chip has gone all the way down to the metal or your sanding has not affected the primer, then you can proceed to painting. However you may need to apply primer. With the primer you do not want to paint it on but dip a toothpick into the primer and then press the tip onto the spot. A thin coat of primer will flow onto the chip through capillary action. You need to wait two hours after priming. Tape a box over the spots and go relax for a bit

Apply paint and wax

Mix your paint or shake up the touch-up pen so the paint is all mixed. Make sure you use as little paint as possible, as you will be applying several coats. You want each coat to dry first before applying the next coat. When the paint is bulging upwards a bit, then you are good. Let the paint dry for a week. Sand down the bulge until it is smooth. Now you can apply glaze or wax to your car and you are done

Car Chip Paint Repair Costs

On average you can expect to spend about $50 to $60 to repair your chipped paint yourself. This covers all materials and the paint you need. This is much less then having it done professionally, which can run to several hundreds of dollars.