How To Apply Touch Up Paint To A Used Car

Car Maintenance, Tips, Used Cars

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used car paint touch up

Getting a scratch on your car is never fun. Whether you accidentally grind against a curb, park next to a tree that scratches the side of your car, or get side-swiped in a parking lot, a large scratch can make your car look unattractive.

And if the scratch reaches through the paint into the metal, it can even increase the risk of oxidation and further damage to your car. The best way to fix minor scrapes and scratches on your car is to use touch-up paint. Here’s a quick guide on what you’ll need to do.

1. Assess The Damage

First, take a look at the damage on your car. Depending on how deep the scratch is, you may need to do a few different things. You can usually gauge the depth of a scratch just by looking at it.

  • White scratch – A white scratch usually means that the scratch did not penetrate the clear coat of your car. You can usually just buff it out by wet sanding it (we’ll cover this technique in step 3).

  • Grey or dark-colored scratch – A dark gray or black color usually means that the car paint has been scraped away completely, exposing the primer. The good thing is that you won’t have to re-prime the surface, and the primer will still protect the underlying metal from corrosion.

  • Metallic scratch – If the scratch reaches metal, you’ll need to buy automotive primer, and repair the scratch as soon as possible to prevent oxidation.

2. Get The Tools And Materials You’ll Need

You’ll need a few basic materials to get started.

  • A clean rag and dishwashing liquid
  • Touch-up paint
  • Clear coat
  • Primer (in some cases)
  • Whitening toothpaste


You can find the right color of touch-up paint by looking in your driver’s manual, or checking the interior of your driver’s side doorjamb for the paint code. You may have to order online, if you have a rare make or model of car.

Clear coat can be purchased at automotive stores, as can automotive primer. The color does not matter or either of these products.

After you’ve gotten these items together, it’s time to get started.

3. Clean And Prepare The Area

First, clean the entire area of the scratch with the dishwashing liquid, and ensure it’s clear of debris.

Then, you’ll use the toothpaste. Whitening toothpaste is actually a polishing agent. That’s why it whitens our teeth. It acts as a very fine-grit wet sandpaper, and is perfect for buffing out minor scratches.

Cover the entire scratch with toothpaste, and buff it with a clean cloth. Rinse it off again. If you only had a minor scratch, it may already be gone! If not, continue to the next step.

4. Apply A Coat Of Touch-Up Paint

You will have to apply primer first, and let it dry, if you have a very deep scratch. Once the primer is ready, apply a coat of touch-up paint using short, even strokes.

Most touch-up paint comes in a small canister with an included brush, so you don’t need any extra brushes or materials.

Allow the touch-up paint coat to dry for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Then, repeat the process until the results are to your liking.

5. Finish With Clear Coat

For extra protection, you can finish your touch-up job with clear coat. This will help protect it from the elements, and ensure it maintains the same shine as the rest of your car.

Follow These Instructions – Get Your Car Looking Brand-New Again!

Touch-up paint is the best way to restore small-to-medium-sized scratches on your vehicle. With just a little know-how and time, you can easily repair a scratch, and ensure your car stays free from oxidation and corrosion.

After you repair your scratch, a professional auto detailing can help remove any brush marks and other imperfections from your touch-up paint. At Ride Time, we have four detailing bays at our service centre – and we would be glad to get the opportunity to restore your car.

Schedule your service appointment now, and make sure your car is looking its best!

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