Take an Afternoon to Get Your Car Back to Its Best
Chips, grazes and scratches can ruin the look of a car. But sorting them out at home is not as complicated as you might think.
If you use your car regularly, it is a fact of life that it will acquire a few battle scars along the way. Even the most careful driver can do nothing about stone chips on the motorway or careless shoppers in supermarket car parks. The annoying thing is that the resulting chips and scuffs can really stick out, making your pride and joy look jaded around the edges. They also provide a perfect haggling point for buyers when the time comes to sell.
Taking the car in to a body repair shop is not usually going to be cost-effective for minor cosmetics, but there is another way. Auto factors and car paint suppliers can provide everything you need to repair the damage and touch up the paint. Here’s how to achieve a great result in four easy steps.
1) Clean the area
The quality of the final result is completely dependent on the quality of the prep. If you daub paint over loose flakes, then it is never going to look right. Clean the area around the chip with soapy water and dry it off with a lint-free cloth so you can see what you’re really dealing with. Next, a little cutting compound like T-Cut can be used to soften down any rough edges. Don’t go overboard here, you don’t want to cut into the clearcoat on the undamaged paint, or you’ll just end up with swirls everywhere.
2) Prepare the wound
Before you apply anything, you need to be sure that the area is clear of even microscopic contaminants that might affect the finish. Some bodywork professionals use denatured alcohol or white spirit for this. Alternatively, you can buy specialist cloths – a little like wet wipes – in any auto factors or from your local car paint supplier.
3) Apply the primer
There are a range of applicators and even pipettes you can use to apply primer, depending on the shape and size of the damage. For smaller scrapes and stone chips, the grizzed auto repair pros swear by the non-striking end of a paper match from one of those free matchbooks – it has just the right blend of firmness and flexibility for the job. Whatever you use, carefully fill the area, making sure you go right up to the edges of the paint. Give it at least an hour to harden.
4) Apply the paint
You can be sure to get the right shade of paint by checking the paint code. This is typically shown on a plate under the bonnet or sometimes on a door pillar. You might also find it noted in the handbook. Take the code to your paint supplier and they will get you a factory match. When applying the paint, always do a test application first on a piece of paper or scrap metal. This will give you a feel for how much to brush or spray at a time. Go for several thin coats rather than laying it on too thick, and allow an hour between coats.