How to Paint Repair a Car

How to Paint Repair a Car

Once you've repaired a ding, scratch, or dent, it's time to paint over the repair. The layers of auto body paint go from steel panel, to primer, to color, to clear coat. If you're looking to repaint a scratch, first check the depth of the scratch. What color is it? If you see the car's color, follow the sanding instructions here and then just apply a layer of clear coat. If you see primer that is different from the car's color, apply color and clear coat. If you see bare steel (or very discolored plastic), you'll have to apply all three. Unless you have an unusual car, your auto shop should have the matching paint.


• Rags

• 80-grit sandpaper

• Thin paintbrush


• Automotive body prep solvent

• Auto body primer

• Auto body paint

• Clear coat

• Car wash soap

• Car wax

1 Use a colorless solvent specific to auto painting to meticulously clean the surface to be painted.

How to Paint Repair a Car

2 Apply primer. When repainting a car completely, an auto shop will use spray primer. Ask your local auto shop for primer recommendations to use with your car and the size of your repair.

How to Paint Repair a Car

3 If the area to be painted is larger than, say, a quarter, sand the primer with fine-grain sandpaper while pouring water over the area. Let dry, add a second coat, and dry according to the primer instructions.

How to Paint Repair a Car

4 Use a thin paintbrush to apply at least three coats of color paint, letting each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next.

How to Paint Repair a Car

5 After the last coat of paint has thoroughly dried, apply the clear coat. Again, talk to your auto-parts store about which clear coat to use.

How to Paint Repair a Car

6 Finally, wash and wax the repaired area.