Does Touch-Up Car Paint Work?

If your car has a few small scratches or rock chips, then you might have thought about getting the imperfections touched up. Fortunately, there are plenty of touch-up paint kits that you can find online. But do those touch-up paint kits really work, or is it better to just take your car to a body shop?

Touch-up paint application is not for shaky hands

Touching up your car’s paint is possible to do yourself, however, your results may vary depending on what kind of paint you use and how well you apply it. The first step is to find the correct paint code for your car in order to match the body color. One of the best sources that we found for buying touch up paint is a website called Paint Scratch, which a touch-up paint supplier that has over 100,000 different color options.

According to, the typical touch-up paint process is as follows:

  • Test the color match: You want to make sure that the paint you ordered matches your car, so test the paint on a metal can or another surface to make sure it matches well.
  • Pick a good spot to paint: Before painting, you’ll want to find a covered and shady spot to paint, preferably a garage. Just make it’s out of direct sunlight and wind.
  • Prep your car: Clean the area that you are going to touch up with soap and water. If the affected area is rusty, then wet sand it with 220 grit sandpaper.
  • Use primer: Use primer on the affected area and let it dry for at least 20 minutes to overnight, if you have the time.
  • Apply the base coat: The base coat is the actual car paint. Apply thin coats of paint so that until it matches the surrounding painted area. Let it dry for at least 20 minutes or more.
  • Apply clearcoat: Apply several layers of clear coat and let it dry for about 20 minutes between each coat. Make sure not to apply too much pressure as the clearcoat can act as a solvent and remove the basecoat.
  • Use rubbing compound: In order to make the area shine, apply some rubbing compound to the area three days (at least) after you touch it up.

While those steps might sound simple, it’s much tougher in actual application. You’ll need a steady hand and a lot of patience to make sure that it’s done correctly. Touch-up paint does work, but 90 percent of the process is how well it’s applied.

RELATED: What’s the Best Way to Repair Your Car’s Paint?

Get it professionally done

If you don’t have the patience to apply the touch-up paint yourself, or are afraid of messing up your car’s paint, then you can always seek professional help. We don’t blame you, if that’s the case because if you decide touch up your car’s paint yourself, then you might experience the following issues:

  • You might not get the perfect paint match
  • You could apply too much paint
  • It might not last long if you don’t do it correctly

Not to scare anyone, but these are legitimate reasons why anyone would rather pay a shop to do the work for them. However, just know that it could cost a pretty penny depending on the job as opposed to most touch-up paint kits, which typically cost around $100 to $200.