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It’s a frustrating fact of life that your vehicle will eventually sustain scratches, dings, and chips. You can do everything possible to prevent it, but one day you’ll walk out to your car and discover one of these dreaded blemishes. All is not lost. What you need is a simple paint touch-up kit. This affordable and effective DIY solution is perfect for minor imperfections. With a quick swipe of a paint pen or the stroke of a brush, you can make scratches and chips disappear.
Touch-up paint products come in various types to suit different application needs. They also come in a wide range of colors, so you’re sure to find the shade that perfectly matches your vehicle. This guide will help you choose the best paint for your touch-up project.
The Best Automotive Touch Up Paint
First up, we have this automotive paint which promises to be easy to use, while also offering a high-quality finish. The paint has been specially formulated to match the original factory colors of the original factory applied coating of your vehicle. Once you spray it on, it will dry quickly to get your car looking back to its best once again.
One of the most innovative features is the nozzle, which you can adjust to 360-degrees, offering a wide spray pattern and an even finish. This is the kind of product that is suitable for both little vehicle touch-up jobs and the painting of your vehicle accessories.
Unfortunately, the glossy finish of this paint isn’t uniform, and there can be a matte overspray if you’re not careful. A proper application will avoid this issue. The spray nozzle also drips during use; periodic wiping will prevent it from dripping on your project or hand.
8-ounce spray can
Duplicates OEM colors
- Weight11.5 ounces
Ideal for large touch-ups
Doesn’t work as well for small scratches and nicks
Spray nozzle drips during use
Gloss finish not uniform
A very highly rated product, this one is specifically designed to remove those annoying scratches and swirls on your vehicle. The patented formula is designed to be safe to use on all paint finishes. A buffer pad is included for you to apply it. However, it may not be suitable for cars that have deeper scratches that can be felt with your finger.
You can also use the product for other purposes including removing water spots and other contaminants that have gotten mixed up in your paint. While it is a professional-standard product, it is one that anyone can use at home. All car paint colors are supported. And there is also a refund guarantee if you are not satisfied for any reason.
Unfortunately, this is not a permanent solution. The scratches and swirls can reappear after washing your vehicle. You can fix this by reapplying this product. On some older vehicles, a white haze can develop; however, this isn’t an issue for newer vehicles.
Apply by hand or orbital
Suitable for smaller scratches and swirls
Removes water spots, oxidation and other common contaminants
- Weight8 ounces
Restores gloss and shine to your paintwork
Uses premium chemicals
Not suitable for deeper scratches
Scratches can reappear after washing
White haze can appear
While some people want their car touch-up paint to be more generalized to suit a range of vehicles, there are others that want something more specific. This one comes directly from Honda. Obviously, before you use a product such as this one, you need to ensure that your car matches precisely. Otherwise, it is not going to look as good.
Rather than spraying it on, this one is designed for brushing. So, you will have to take your time when applying it to the specific parts of your car that need refreshing.
The downside of this pen is that it’s the exact OEM color, which may not match your vehicle’s color anymore. This is a common problem with all OEM matched paints. You may also find it difficult to get a seamless touch up with the pen. You can address this by smoothing out the paint after you’ve applied it with the pen.
Specially formulated for Honda vehicles
High-quality PPG paint
0.5 fluid ounces
- Weight0.8 ounces
Easy to use
High-quality acrylic paint
Pen style for precise application
Not as good for larger touch-up jobs
Paint doesn’t match aged vehicle color
Hard to get a seamless touch up
Again, this is another specialized car touch-up paint for you to use on your Subaru. Everyone wants their car to look new for as long as possible, and this product helps you to accomplish this task by covering up the chips and scratches which can give your vehicle an ugly appearance. As we have stated before above, you need to make sure that your car color matches properly. Remember, with this type of product, it is important that you are specific.
One drawback of this product is that the applicator tip is quite aggressive and can create a heavy paint flow. This may be too much for small chips and finer scratches. It can also be hard to match paint that’s aged on your vehicle to the original OEM color.
Formulated for Subaru vehicles
Get an exact match to your car’s color code
0.5 fluid ounces
- Weight1.6 ounces
Quick to use with little prep needed
Dries relatively quickly
Some complaints of the pen being difficult to use
Heavy paint flow
Crafted to the high standards that you would expect of a Toyota vehicle, this touch-up pen is designed for white vehicles to give them back their original shine. Tested for both performance and durability, they tick the boxes of what you would want of a product of this variety. You have a rollerball tip and a brush end to choose between, so you can select the one which is best-suited to the damage on your vehicle.
One drawback to the pen style of touch up paint is that it requires a bit of work post painting to create a seamless fix. This is common with all pen-style touch-up paints, and the extra work is totally worth the effort for a beautiful finish.
Made for Toyota vehicles
Designed for scratch and chip repair work
0.5 fluid ounces
- BrandGenuine Toyota
- Weight0.96 ounces
High-quality paint that effectively covers up scratches
Easy application method
Toyota quality assured
Not a generalized touch-up product
The paint is thin
Difficult to create seamless touch up
Rather than paying a lot of money to fix up the scratches on your vehicle, this scratch remover pen takes care of the job of covering up the annoying bits of damage on your car. As well as being permanent, it is also water resistant, so a rain shower is not going to wash it off. There is a detailed set of instructions which gives you the step by step guide of what you need to do.
One potential issue with this paint is that it isn’t an exact OEM match to your vehicle’s paint. The generic color makes the paint versatile but may not work for your specific vehicle. This isn’t an issue if you have a vehicle that matches or touching up a less noticeable area.
Water resistant and permanent
12 millileters of paint
- Weight1.76 ounces
Convenient and easy to use
Repair area: 0.08 square meters
Not much paint in the bottle
Container can leak
This touch-up paint is designed for Audi vehicles. There are a range of different colors to choose between, so you can pick the one which matches your car. It comes in a two-bottle kit with one being the base coat, and the other is the clear coat. Each bottle has a built-in brush under the cap for easy application and holds 9 milliliters of paint. This makes it ideal for small to medium scratches and chips. You can buy with confidence, knowing that you’ll receive a genuine Audi product.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to match OEM paint to older vehicles with paint that’s aged. This can make your touch-ups more noticeable than the scratch or chip itself. The brush applicator isn’t very fine-tipped, which can make precise application challenging.
Genuine Audi product
Contains both base coat and clear coat
Each bottle is 9 millileters
- Weight2.4 ounces
Provides an exact match to your vehicle’s color
More expensive than other options
Not exact brush application
May not match vehicle color
Designed for Ford automobiles, you should make sure that you choose the correct color to best suit your vehicle. Each jar contains .25 ounces of paint. The touch-up paint includes four easy-to-use applicators, a shop towel, a paint test match card, and easy to follow directions. This gives you everything you need to touch up the chips and scratches on your vehicle. When you order your paint, it will get custom mixed using your car color code. This ensures you get fresh, high-quality paint.
One drawback of this paint is that it’s OEM matched, which may not match the aged look of your vehicle’s paint. The jars are also quite small, which gives you a limited amount of paint. However, you don’t need much if you’re fixing small blemishes.
Contains touch up paint and clear coat
0.25 ounces in each bottle
Applicators and shop towel included
- BrandERA Paints
- Weight2.24 ounces
Guaranteed to be an exact OEM color match
Easy-to-follow instructional video
Each order is custom mixed
Only a small amount of paint contained in each jar
May not match perfectly
Jars can leak
This handy little pen comes with a dual end applicator with a pen tip on one end and a brush style of applicator on the other. It holds a total of 0.5 ounces of paint. There are 0.25 ounces of base color and 0.25 ounces of clear coat. The base coat is a factory match color to GM OEM paint colors. With the two styles of tips, you can fix everything from small scratches to medium-sized chips. The pen-style container makes it easy to control, so you get a precise application.
One drawback of this paint is that it doesn’t self-level, so it could dry raised from the vehicle’s original paint height. With a bit of prep and finishing work, you can easily avoid this. You may also find that the pen can leak. You can prevent this by following the manufacturer’s directions on how to open and close the pen.
Pen and brush style paint pen
GM factory original color
- Weight1.58 ounces
Fixes small and medium-sized scratches
Easy to apply
0.25 ounces of color and 0.25 ounces of base coat
Does not self-level
Pen can leak
If you own a Toyota, you’ll appreciate this exact match pen from Dupli-Color. It comes in factory match OEM colors to ensure an exact match to the color of your vehicle. The pen holds .5 ounces of base color. At one end, you’ll find an abrasive tip to remove loose paint and rust for a clean new paint application. This pen also allows you to fix small scratches and chips. The other end has a brush tip for fixing medium-sized scratches and chips.
One drawback is that the OEM paint may not exactly match your vehicle. This happens when the paint on your vehicle ages and fades. There are also no included instructions; however, the pen style of the applicator should be self-explanatory. If you’re unsure, you can do a test on a scrap piece of paper.
Pen and brush style tips
Prime and paint formula
Toyota exact match
- Weight2.08 ounces
Abrasive tip removes loose paint and rust
Fixes small to medium scratches and chips
May not match exactly
No directions included
Paint is thin
Best Automotive Touch Up Paint Buying Guide
Don’t let those unsightly scratches and chips drive you crazy. With a DIY paint touch-up kit, you can do the repair at home quickly, easily, and affordably. All you need to do is choose the correct color and the applicator style that works best for your skill level and the size of the blemish in your paint.
This guide will help you to understand your paint touch-up options. It’ll also explain what features are important and how to get the most from your paint. With a little patience and practice, you’ll have a vehicle that looks brand new as the scratches and chips disappear.
Benefits of Automotive Touch Up Paint
There are plenty of different reasons why you would want to use automotive touch up paint. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the main ones.
One of the main reasons why you would use automotive touch up paint is because it is cheaper than taking it in for the job to be done professionally. Even the smallest of scratches are going to cost you a pretty penny to put right compared to the amount you will spend on a bottle of touch up paint.
Next up, you have the convenience factor. Not only will bringing your car to a mechanic be expensive, but it will also take time when you are without your vehicle. For many of us who live busy lives, this simply isn’t acceptable. But if you have some touch up paint, it is there and ready to use whenever you need it. And the smallest jobs hardly take any time at all.
Linked to the point above, there is a big time commitment involved when you're taking your car into the body shop. You have to book an appointment at a convenient time and maybe leave it there for a matter of hours or days. For small scratches, this may not even seem worthwhile to do. The DIY approach is a quick and easy route to take.
Look After Your Car Better
Since taking your car into the body shop is such a big time and monetary commitment, it is also one that you may put off altogether. But if you leave nicks, chips, and scratches to fester, rust can become a more serious problem. Take care of them when they appear with some touch up paint and you help preserve the paint job of your vehicle.
Easy to Use
You don’t have to be a professional to use touch up paint. No matter what application method you choose, it shouldn’t prove to be too complicated and you can simply follow the instructions that you are provided. Most manufacturers design their products with ease of use firmly in mind.
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Different Types of Automotive Touch Up Paint
There are a few different types of automotive touch-up paint to choose between. The one you select depends on your planned undertaking and your own personal preferences. Consider the size of the job so that you buy enough paint and have a suitable applicator. Also, consider your skill level and the ease of use of the applicator. The easier it is to use, the better your end result will be.
Aerosol paints are a common choice and have the natural advantage of being easy to use. After all, we all know how to spray paint out of a can! But if you are not careful, things can get messy and the job will not look as professional as you would have liked. Bear in mind that the spraying distance matters. The further away you hold the can, the more dispersed the results will look. While these work well over bigger areas, they may not be best for the smaller and more intricate work. And they are easy to use but don’t offer the same level of control.
Touch Up Pens
A very popular choice, many manufacturers offer a touch up pen as part of their overall package with a new car purchase. The main advantage is that they are made to match the exact color of the vehicle, there are no worries about the paint looking ‘off’. On the downside, you are not going to be able to cover up huge areas using one. Generally, they are made for smaller chips and scratches. Anything too deep is not going to be filled in properly. They also typically have a small amount of paint, .5 ounces, or less, so they won’t cover large surface areas.
There are also kits that are specifically designed to remove scratches rather than covering them up with paint. Again, scratch removers are best for smaller scratches rather than deeper ones, which require more professional attention. On the plus side, you can use them with any vehicle, and they are a handy piece of equipment to whip out when needed. These kits don’t contain paint but rather work with your existing paint and a filler to mask the look of the scratch. You’ll find that many of these solutions aren’t a permanent fix and require repeat application. If you have minor swirl marks, this type of kit is ideal for addressing them.
Paint Brush Touch Up Kits
You can also get paintbrush touch up kits if you would prefer to go down this avenue. While some are finer, like a felt tip, others are designed to be more brush-like. These kits tend to come with more paint that’s in a jar style of container. The brush is then built into the lid. This makes them ideal for filling deeper and wider scratches and chips. You may find that the applicator’s brush style requires more skill, prep work, and finishing work to achieve a smooth and high-quality looking finish. You can avoid this by practicing before you attempt to fix your scratches.
How To Test Automotive Touch Up Paints
To test the different touch-up paints, start by selecting different types of applicators. It’s also smart to consider color options, such as OEM color-matched and universal colors. Consider also that some base paints also come with a clear coat. Then use each type of applicator on various types of scratches and chips.
You can then see how easy it is to apply the paint, how clean the application is, and what the dried finished product looks like. Consider how easy it is to control the applicator. Some have handheld containers that are comfortable in your hand. Others have a fine tip to make paint applications precise.
The Most Important Features of Automotive Touch Up Paint
All automotive touch-up paints are not created equal. Here are a few points that are worth considering. By considering these features, you’ll buy the correct color paint with the best applicator. Start by knowing the make and model of your car, then the size of the scratches you need to fix and finalize your decision by considering the ease of application.
Make and Model of Your Car
There are some touch-up paints that are made for certain makes of car, and many designed to match very specific colors. While this may not be the most affordable option, it is going to be the one that replicates your paint job the most closely. If you are going to go down the specific paint route, you need to ensure that you double-check to make sure that the match is exact. If your car manufacturer does not produce their own paint, you can check your GM factory color code. Your car manual should have this information inside.
Different touch-up paints have varying application methods, so you need to choose the one which is best for you. For example, if your car has a few small and skinny scratches, which are surface level, a pen-style applicator is good for covering these and blending them into the surrounding paint. With deeper and longer scratches, a touch-up paint with a brush with a larger jar helps to deal with these. Brushes also work well for chips too. If you have a large surface area to cover, then you’ll want to consider using a rattle can with a large spray coverage and plenty of paint.
There are a couple of different points to consider regarding the paint's resistance. A high-quality paint should not only be resistant to corrosion but also UV rays. Also, you can find paint that is able to withstand heat, which is important if you are going to be driving your car in hot conditions. The more additives a paint has, the more resistive it will be. Durable paint will last longer and require fewer touch-ups. This will make it easier to maintain the look of your vehicle. You may find that a touch-up kit doesn't have resistant qualities in the base coat, but does have them in the clear topcoat.
Check the drying time of the paint to find out how long this is going to take. This is especially important to know if you plan on applying different layers or a finishing clear coat. Quick-dry paint can be set in as little as 30 minutes, so you can easily apply multiple layers if you need to. However, faster drying paint may not be as durable as a varnish or lacquer that takes longer to dry. The climate you apply the paint in will also affect the drying time. Bear in mind that you need to wait around a month before waxing your car.
Care and Maintenance for Automotive Touch Up Paint
The key to achieving a great result with your touch up paint is to know how to work with and store your paint. Start by doing a test paint strip on a piece of paper or cardstock before you apply the paint to your vehicle. You can then hold the test paint up to your vehicle to ensure you have an exact match before you apply the paint to your vehicle.
When you're ready to apply the paint to your vehicle, prep the area before you start painting. You’ll want to thoroughly clean the surface of dirt, rust, and loose paint. It can also help to tape off the area and smooth out the edges with mild sandpaper.
To ensure your paint is ready for the next time you need it, store it correctly. Clean the brush or pen tip off of any excess paint. Then tightly seal the cap onto the container to prevent it from drying out.
- Do a test paint card before applying it to your car.
- Prepare the surface area before painting.
- Clean and tightly store your paint when finished.
Best Automotive Touch Up Paint FAQ:
One of the biggest questions vehicle owners have about touch up paint is how durable the paint is. Most people hope that this fix will be a permanent solution or last a long time. However, this isn’t always the case, and in some situations, you may want to be able to remove the paint.
Q: How much heat can automotive touch up paint take?
A: There a few rules when it comes to the correct application conditions of automotive touch up paint. The ideal temperature is around 70 degrees F. Any higher than 80 degrees F and the paint may dry too quickly, leaving behind a rough surface. Also, the humidity is best at around 50%, so double check the conditions before you apply anything.
Q: How do I remove automotive touch up paint?
A: Sometimes, you want to remove touch up paint which looks uneven or mismatched. If it has not been well applied, you may be able to pick it off just using your fingernail. Alternatively, you can try using a toothpick. This will work best if the paint has been recently applied or if it is very loose. If you are going to use one of these methods, you should make sure that you only scrape in a gentle upward motion. Too hard and you risk making the problem worse.
Another possibility is to use lacquer thinner. You should start by washing the section of your vehicle with the dried paint on it. You should be aiming to clear away any dirt and grime around the area which could spoil the final effect. Once you have finished washing, you should then dry the area with a towel or cloth. Wait around half an hour to allow the area to dry fully. You can now apply the lacquer thinner. A Q-tip will help to soften it up. Follow the instructions of the product that you choose. Leave the thinner on for as long as directed. You can then wipe it off your vehicle.
Alternatively, you can try sanding off the dry paint. Apply some car masking tape around the area that you want to remove to avoid accidentally taking off any more paint than you had initially wanted. Now, use 150-grit sandpaper to remove the softened paint. Coarser sandpaper has a lower number, but this can end up scratching your vehicle. When you are sanding the affected area, press down firmly and sand backward and forwards. Once you have finished, you can then get rid of the coat of paint dust that has accumulated. If the job has not been completed fully, you can then sand the door a little bit more. To smooth out any rough edges that still remain, you can use 600-grit sandpaper to buff the area. A clean towel will brush away and chips or dust still remaining.
Q: How long will touch up paint last on my vehicle?
A: Car touch up paint is not a permanent solution to your vehicle’s scratches, but it is one which you can expect to last for a couple of years. The higher quality products can last for as long as four before you will need to reapply another coat.
Our Top Pick
Our top pick for the best automotive touch-up paint is the Dupli-Color Automotive Touch Up Paint. Since it comes in a spray can, you know that it’s easy to use. And things have been made even more straightforward thanks to the 360-degree nozzle, which allows you plenty of control and creates a spray pattern that is both wide and even. Formulated to match your vehicle’s original color, it’s a fast-drying option, so you’re ready to start driving your vehicle again in no time. Its spray-on application method makes it well-suited to the larger touch-up jobs.
The Dupli-Color Automotive Touch Up Paint is an OEM quality paint that’s ideal for large touch-ups. It’s easy to use and dries quickly. If you need a more affordable option, the Honda Touch-Up Paint is a pen-style applicator to dispense high-quality PPG paint that’s durable.