How to Prepare Car Paintwork for Retouching

No matter how safely you drive, and how well you look after your car, you are always going to end up with minor scratches and scrapes to the paintwork. Loose chips from the road surface being kicked up by a vehicle in front are unavoidable and the most common way that auto paint is damaged. So, in this short guide, we are going to give an overview of the process of repairing or retouching car paintwork as a DIY project.

Prepare the Chip or Scratch for Retouching

The first part of the process for retouching car paintwork is to get the paintwork itself into a state ready for the repair. This means that all dirt, oil, and car wax products need to be removed. Without doing this, the new paint will not stick properly.

The best thing to use for this is simple washing up liquid or dish detergent, although there are specialist solvent products available that do the same. Clean the area to be retouched thoroughly and then leave it overnight to dry.

Clean up the Damaged Area Ready for the New Paint

The next stage is to clean up the scratch or chip. Make sure there is no dirt or paint chips still inside the damaged area. Don’t be afraid to peel off a little paint around the damaged area if it looks like it may soon flake away on its own.

Next, take some prep spray (a special product for making the paintwork semi-sticky and ready to bond to the fresh paint) and clean the damaged area again. Once this is done, you should use a sanding pen lightly across the scratch or chipped area. You only need to run the sanding pen over the scratch a few times, don’t sand away too much of the old paint, and certainly not down to the metal unless you have too. Once this is done, use the prep spray again and wipe away any paint dust or residue.

Use a Colour Matched Touch Up Pen to Apply New Paint

Leave the damaged area to dry completely before applying the new paint. The simplest way to actually apply new paintwork to repair a chip or scratch is to use a touch-up pen. These are available colour matched to just about every standard colour of car paint.

Use the touch-up pen lightly, don’t apply too much paint in one go. It is far better to apply several light coats, rather than apply a single thick one, which could result in the fresh paint running.

Clean and Buff the Repaired Paintwork Once Dry

As long as you have not applied too much fresh paint, there should be no need to sand down or smooth out the new paint that was applied using the touch-up pen. All you will need to do is clean the area and then polish it once the paint has fully dried. You can use standard auto wax products and a good quality buffing cloth for this. Once the new paint has been waxed and buffed, it should merge seamlessly into the old paintwork, leaving an almost entirely invisible repair.