Make those nicks and scratches disappear
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Micro applicators, syringes and other tools
Micro applicators, paint syringes and a
spot-sanding tool help you touch up
like a pro.
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Photo 1: Apply rust converter
Apply several light coats of rust converter
with a foam brush, allowing
proper drying time between coats. Use a
new brush for each coat.
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Photo 2: Apply paint to dents
Use an artist's brush to apply several
light coats of paint to dents. Allow the
paint to dry between coats.
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Photo 3: Clean rust out of scratches
Use the spot-sanding tool to clean
rust out of scratches. Apply gentle
pressure to prevent enlarging the scratch.
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Photo 4: Fill in the scratches
Fill the paint syringe and apply gentle
pressure as you fill in the scratch.
Start at one end and work toward the
other. (We started in the middle to show
you the effect.)
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Fuzzy little brushes (micro applicators)
Buy micro applicators to
touch up paint chips.
Over the years, you've probably
acquired your fair share of scratches,
dents with flaking paint, and paint
chips on “Old Reliable.” And if you're
like most people, you've been ignoring
them. But all those insults are either
already rusting or soon will. By investing
very little time over several days,
you can stop the rust in its tracks,
touch up your car's finish and get your
vehicle back into reasonable shape—all for less than $100.
First, we have to caution you not to
develop unrealistic expectations—you
cannot achieve body shop results in
your driveway. But our techniques will
make the blemishes less noticeable
and delay the onset of rust-through.
Start your touch-up project by getting
the proper paint color. The dealer
usually sells 1/2-oz. vials of touch-up
paint and clear coat for about $8 each.
But call the parts department first to
see if your color is in stock (have your
VIN handy). One vial is enough to
repair about two dozen small paint
chips. If you need more than a few
vials, search for a larger bottle on the
Internet. Most auto parts sites explain
how to find the paint code for your
vehicle. Expect to pay $20 to $30 for a
2-oz. bottle of paint.
To fix scratches and paint chips,
you'll need a spot-sanding tool (see
Photo 3; $8) and professional micro
applicators and paint syringes ($7 to
$9 each). The small applicators deliver just the right
amount of paint to chips. For scratches,
use the paint syringes to apply a
continuous coat of paint. For small
dents and dings, apply paint with a
1/4-in. artist's brush ($10 at any art
At an auto parts store, pick up a can
of wax and grease remover ($4), and if
you already have rust forming, an
assortment of sandpaper grits and a
bottle of brush-on rust converter ($7).
Before starting any of the
repairs, wash your vehicle.
Let it dry and apply the
wax and grease remover
with a clean rag to the
areas you're touching
If you have flaking
paint with exposed
rust, pick away the
loose paint with a small
screwdriver or putty
knife. Then sand off the
surface rust with 150-grit sandpaper. Switch to 600-grit
sandpaper to feather the painted edges
around the spot. Also use the spot-sanding
tool to remove rust from
scratches and larger paint chips.
Remove the sanding dust with a clean
rag. Then follow the instructions on
the bottle of rust converter and use a
foam brush to apply a thin coating to
the area. For scratches, use a paint
syringe to apply the converter. Allow it
to dry thoroughly. Most rust converters
dry to form a primer coat and don’t
require additional primer, but double check
If you don't have any rust and the
factory primer is visible, you can skip
those steps and proceed with painting.
Shake the paint vial or stir the bottle
for the recommended time to ensure
the metallic flakes are suspended in
the paint. For dents, use the
artist's brush to apply a light
coat of paint to the treated
area. Use several thin
coats rather than a single
thick one. Lightly sand
each coat with 600-grit
sandpaper after it dries.
Follow the manufacturer's
for drying time between
coats. Clean the brush
with the recommended
solvent between coats.
To repair paint chips, select a micro
applicator that's slightly smaller than
the chip. Once again, apply several
thin coats, rather than a blob of paint.
Thick blobs skin over and then sink as
they dry, leaving an ugly divot.
To repair scratches, apply the brush
head to the syringe and load it with a
small amount of paint. Then apply
light pressure to the plunger as you
guide the brush head all along the