Paint Touch-up Repair Tips

Since trading my 1988 IROC in on my 1996 WS6 Trans Am in ’99, I’ve taken excellent care of my new ride. I’ve been very impressed with the Zaino products, especially the clay and its ability to remove dirt and contaminants.

Frequently, though, many older cars, like thirdgens, have paint damage that the clay will not remove. Also, many times there are rock chips, nicks and various other scratches that take their toll on the whole look of the car over time. I recently backed into a concrete pole with my Trans Am. Luckily, it did no more than cause a couple of dozen small nicks in the driver’s side corner of the bumper. The damage was nowhere near enough to justify a re-paint, but it made me sick to look at it. I solicited some touch-up tips from Matt98SS and Chuck Everly. The following is what I learned in the process of repairing the nicks.

2000 grit sandpaper-this is very important….I wouldn’t recommend anything more abrasive…the higher the number, the finer the paper. You can usually find 2000 grit at Wal-Mart with the touch up paints.

Correct color touch up paint-I had a hard time finiding the right match for my Arctic White paint. I won’t go into this in detail, just try to find your paint code, match it up with a touch up color, and test it first to see how it matches.

Clear coat touch up paint-this is found wth the other touch-up colors in the display at Wal-Mart or auto parts stores.

3M Fine Cut Rubbing Compound-also found at Wal-Mart. This is good stuff, puts the shine back on after wetsanding.

3 or 4 fine tipped art paint brushes-the brush that comes in the touch-up paint bottle is too big for any accurate work.

Spray bottle filled with soapy water, or other method to lubricate sand paper during wet sanding.

Begin by washing the affected area. You will want to use dish soap to help remove any wax you have on the area. If you are a Zainophile, use the clay next to get remaining polish off the area.

Next, use one of the art brushes to apply small amounts of paint to each of the nicks or marks. My incident had gouged the paint all the way to the plastic of the bumper, so the dark color of the plastic didn’t help me in my color matching. After you’ve hit all the spots you want, go back and re-apply, being sure to fill in the spots. Don’t use too much paint or your drying times will be extended.

Wait for the paint to dry, then whip out the sand paper. Spray the area down with your lubricant mixture and use a small square of sandpaper to slowly go over the painted areas. What you want to do is sand down each spot until it is smooth to the touch. The correct method should sand off any over-paint that you may have gotten on the "good" paint, leaving only the paint you placed in the nick/spot. Be sure to keep the area nice and wet with lube, and turn the paper often to be sure you’re sanding with a clean piece.

After wetsanding, dry the area with a cloth towel. The next step is to repeat the process all over again, this time with emphasis on making sure you get the spots filled with paint. Let dry, wet sand, etc.

OK, so you’ve now done 2 paint/sand steps. Now, you are going to do it a third time, but this time you are going to apply the clear coat instead of the paint. You can be a little more generous with the clear, since you want to get it filled in and smooth. Be sure to clean your brushes with turpentine or use a new brush each time you paint.

After letting the clear coat dry ( you may want to give it extra time beyond what you gave the color, you want to make absolutely sure its dry), wet sand the clear coat. Again, you want sand until excess clear is removed and the spot is smooth to the touch.

After final wet-sanding, dry the area, then get out your 3M Rubbing Compound. Using a cloth towel or a wax applicator pad, apply small amounts to the whole area and work it around. This stuff is abrasive, but its designed for very fine scraches. Its also good for swirl marks. After working the rubbing compound, remove it like you would wax or polish. You should be left with a smooth, shiny finish. Now you are ready to put on your favorite wax or polish and enjoy your car.

I didn’t have perfect results, the dark plastic of the bumper made the touch-ups a little dark, but it looks 100% better than the black gouge marks that were there before.

The 3M compound is also great for removing black grime "stains" from the painted areas under the hood. Also great for removing swirl marks and water spots that the Zaino clay can’t pull out. Also removes the dark hairline scratches that white cars tend to get.

If you are timid about paint work, test your skills out on a hidden area like the bottom of a rocker panel or inside a door jam. Good Luck.