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The Ultimate Guide on How to Apply Touch-Up Car Paint

car getting touch up

Applying touch-up paint is a great way to maintain the appearance of your car — so long as you follow the right steps. A lot of preparation is necessary before your first stroke of paint, and applying the paint to a car isn’t as simple as painting a fence. To learn how to use touch-up paint, here are the four detailed steps you need to follow to ensure it is applied correctly.

Find the Right Paint Color

It won’t matter if you know how to use touch-up paint if the color doesn’t match your vehicle. Determining the correct paint color code should be the first step in your process, and it can commonly be found on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door, among other places. Many auto shops sell touch-up paint, but you may need to call a specialty store if your car has an older or unique color.


However, even if you find the exact match for your car’s color, it’s still important to test it out on a metal surface. Not only will this help you practice your brush strokes, but you may find that the paint no longer matches your car because of years of sun fading. It’s possible that you’ll need to visit a body shop to find and purchase a color that is more consistent with the hue of the vehicle.

Prepare Car for Paint

The next steps in knowing how to use touch-up paint properly involve preparing the car for the paint. Having a clean surface is vital for ensuring the paint coverage is evenly distributed and so that it has the best conditions possible for adherence, so thoroughly wash and dry your car beforehand.


Determine which areas of your vehicle are scratched or damaged and start preparing them for the touch-up paint. Use glass cleaner to remove grease and oil in the damaged regions and wipe them down thoroughly using a microfiber cloth to get rid of any contaminants. To eliminate rust and flaking paint in the targeted areas, stroke high-grit sandpaper back and forth until you achieve the desired results.


Another factor that you need to know about how to apply touch-up paint on a car is the weather conditions. Choose a dry day with low humidity so the paint will dry at an efficient rate that isn’t too fast. Additionally, drive the car to a shaded area, so the paint isn’t in direct contact with sunlight.


The last step you’ll need to take before you apply touch-up paint is gathering the right equipment. Wearing safety goggles and gloves is crucial so that the paint doesn’t reach any sensitive parts of your body. Chemicals in paint are often hazardous and must be handled with care.

Apply the Base Coats of Paint

With the preparations complete, it’s time to start applying the new coat. Some paints require a primer or paint thinner before their application, while others have a coat already included. Paint thinners are designed to help new paints stick better and will withstand elements while on the road. Reading the instructions for the particular paint you’re using is critical to be able to apply it correctly. 


When you do start applying the paint, dab your fine-tip brush lightly over the damaged area. It’s important for the layers to be thin, so ensure that any extra paint is brushed off before each stroke. While brushing, start above the damage so that the running paint can fill in the scratch below.


An important aspect of learning how to apply touch-up paint on a car is knowing to give the coats enough drying time between each coverage. How long this takes can differ significantly depending on the temperature. Additionally, make sure to thoroughly sand the painted area so that the new and old paint look similar.

Finishing the Process

Once you’ve applied enough thin coats and they’ve dried completely, it’s time to finish the process by sealing them with a clear coat. This clear coat touch-up offers extra protection for the paint job. After you apply the clear coat, sand the damaged areas as much as necessary to blend the new and old paint.

If you’re interested in learning how to use touch-up paint, reach out to Peruzzi Collision Center. We offer a variety of services, including wheel refinishing in PA . For more information on our windshield repair in Levittown, PA , and other services, contact us today.

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