Car Paint Dos and Don’ts

PaintCraft owner, Steve Bode, repairing paint chips on a hood.

The Things I’ve Seen…

Over the last 15 years, I’ve learned quite a bit about how to take care of car paint. I’ve also seen some terrible techniques go, well, terribly. I’d like to share my personal list of car paint dos and don’ts. The don’ts are more detrimental if not heeded, so I’ll start with those.

Car Paint Don’ts

1. Don’t sand down chips.

Yikes. I’ve seen articles out there suggesting that you sand down the damaged area before using touch-up paint. That’s a really bad idea for a couple of reasons. First, for best results, you need the edge of the chip. It acts like a bucket for the paint to sit in. Paint has a thickness to it, and if the damaged area is smooth, there’s no way to make the touch-up paint thin enough to sit nicely on the damaged area. Second, sanding it down will damage the surrounding good paint. Sanding should be done by a professional if done at all. You can very easily go too far and ruin your paint.

2. Don’t use clear coat touch-up paint.

Most touch-up kits are really nothing more than an income stream for the car dealerships that sell them. They really don’t work well. This is especially true of the clear coat touch-up. You can’t apply a clear coat with a brush, it’s much too thick. Well… I guess technically you can, but it’ll look awful. Clearcoat needs to be sprayed, and it isn’t necessary for the very small area that you’d be using touch-up paint for. PaintCraft recommends Dr. Colorchip touch-up paint.

Key scratch on red paint3. Don’t use a kitchen scrub pad or fingernails on your car, ever.

This may seem obvious to some, but I’ve seen people use a scrub pad or their fingernail to clean something off their car many times. Your car’s paint surface is very sensitive and scratches easily.

4. Don’t put things on your car.

Avoid setting your purse, groceries, boxes, bum, and anything else on top of your car. Even very gently placing your purse or grocery bags on the trunk of your car while you look for your car keys will leave scratches, especially if you make a habit of it. They may not show up right away, but they will show up eventually and get worse over time. The heating and cooling of your car will open the scratches, dirt and debris will build-up, and then they’ll become very noticeable.

Car Paint Dos

1. Wash off bird poop and tree sap immediately.

The acids from bird poop will leave a permanent mark on your car. The darker the color of your car, the more noticeable it will be. It’s also worse in the spring when birds are eating berries because it’ll be very acidic. The result is almost impossible to fix, or even make look better. If you’re unable to wash the car right away, just pour water on it and wipe it with a wet paper towel – gently and with plenty of water.

2. Get damage repaired before it gets worse.

You can save yourself a lot of money by getting minor damage repaired before it becomes major damage. If the paint damage is very minor, you may have some time. So, just make sure you’re paying attention so you know when it’s time to call a car paint touch-up professional! Read our post about deciding when you should fix the paint damage on your car here.

3. Wash and wax regularly.

The best thing you can do to keep your car’s paint looking fresh is to consistently care for it. It’s best to have your car washed about once every 4-6 weeks. If dirt, dust, and debris are left to sit on your car’s surface, it’s more likely to be scratched by just a gentle brush past. If your car is clean, you’re more likely to see smaller areas of damage before they get out of hand. Get a fresh coat of wax every few months to further protect the paint.

What do you think?

We’d love to hear from you! Do you have any car paint dos or don’ts that we didn’t list here? Do you follow all of these already, or did you learn something new? Send us a message with any input or questions you have!

We’re Here to Help

If you want more information about car paint repair, we’re always happy to help! I have been doing car paint scratch repair for 15 years. All of our techs here at PaintCraft are highly-skilled artists with direct training from me. Even if you’re not in our service area, we can point you in the right direction. Just send us an email! 

You can also check out our YouTube channel for tutorials.

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