There is no worse feeling than hearing the ping of a stone or screech of a tree branch against the paintwork of your vehicle and feel that sinking feeling in your stomach, knowing that this scratch is going to be a bad one.
Luckily for us, car paint technology gets better every single year. There’s now very little difference between car paint repair kits available online to you and me, and the paint the professionals would use in a repair shop and gouge you several hundred dollars for. With a little time and effort, almost any damage can be repaired, and scratches that would have needed a complete panel respray even a few years ago can now be fixed by you at home in your garage or in your driveway.
- The Types of Paint Chip Repair Kits
- What to Look for When Buying Paint Chip Repair Kits
- Top 10 Best Car Paint Chip Repair Kits 2021
- 1. Best Overall Pick: Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover
- 2. Best Budget Pick: Turtle Wax T-234KT Premium Scratch Repair Kit
- 3. Best Premium Pick: 3M Scratch Removal System
- 4. Best Color Match: Color N Drive Touch-Up Kit
- 5. Best Professional Kit: Langka Complete Paint Repair Kit
- 6. Best Universal Color Pick: Turtle Wax Color Magic Pen
- 7. Best Touch-Up Paint: Paint2Fix Brand Matched Touch-Up Paint
- 8. Best for GM vehicles: ALDelco Four-In-One Touch-Up Pen
- 9. Best Inexpensive Color Matching: MagicEzy Color Match Repair Kit
- 10. Best Brush Applicator: SongVen Car Scratch Removal Applicator
- The Paint Chip Repair Kit Buyer’s Guide
- Final Thoughts
The Types of Paint Chip Repair Kits
There are a few different ways to go about fixing a chip in your car’s paint. Here are the different methods employed by the products on our list. If you’re looking to paint more than just a small section of your car, make sure to check out our list of the best paint guns for painting your car.
One of the two most common types of applicators, touch-up pens are precise and simple to use. Touch-up pens look and feel like a thick marker pen and are used in almost the same way. You ‘paint’ the scratch or chip by drawing over it with the pen, and it leaves a layer of paint that is polished down into the rest of the paintwork.
Pens are better for small scratches or hard to see chips because they only lay down a thin layer of paint. So, unless you put down multiple layers over the course of hours, larger damage is likely to still be visible and if you’re investing that amount of time, a larger kit is a better choice. Our favorite touch-up pen is the Turtle Wax Color Magic Pen.
The other most common type of applicator. A touch-up brush is exactly what it sounds like it is. A small pot, generally less than 20ml, of paint with a thin brush attached. Brushes can be sponge-based or fiber-based, and cover much larger areas than touch-up pens, but tend to be less precise and leave streaks and other visible marks on smaller areas of damage unless heavily buffed out.
Because of these issues, most kits avoid brush applicators, or use them as a back-up option.
The most complete option available, kits like these come as a full set with everything you need inside. It’s common for these kits to come specifically based around an individual manufacturer, which ensures the closest possible match to the specific paints that each car maker uses. It’s also normally possible to get a specific kit matched to your exact paint job by using your vehicle’s OEM color code.
Inside, you tend to find sponges, cloths, and applicators, as well as cleaning solution, pre-paint treatment, the paint itself, excess paint remover, and sometimes a small amount of buffing wax.
Kits like these are often the most expensive but are by far the best products.
What to Look for When Buying Paint Chip Repair Kits
If you’ve already looked through our list of paint chip repair reviews, you’ll have noticed that there are some serious differences between individual kits. Here’s what you should be looking for when you’re making your choice.
Ease of Use
When you break down the process, filling in paint chips is surprisingly simple. It’s just about making sure the area is prepared correctly and putting on each layer evenly, then waiting for it to dry before moving on to the next stage.
A good paint chip repair kit will have everything you need inside, taking all the decision making out of the process, and letting you focus on the important task at hand.
Just as important as ease of use is how good the instructions are. Paints from specific manufacturers sometimes need specialist preparation, and a clear and easy to follow set of instructions makes the entire process much simpler.
Safety and Environmentally Friendliness
The days of harsh chemicals being used for car paints are long gone, but it’s still important to treat all the compounds involved with care.
When repairing damaged paintwork, do it in a well-ventilated area. A large garage is perfect. Smaller enclosed spaces can be used if you have adequate ventilation and face protection.
You can also do it outside, though make sure that the weather is clear, with no chance of rain, and low wind.
The tools you need depend on what repairs are necessary. A single scratch can easily be fixed with a pen or brush kit, but a larger area might require multiple coats and extensive prep work.
The largest areas might not even be possible to fix with a paint chip repair kit and might require a complete respray or panel replacement.
Now that you know what to look for, here are our top picks for paint chip repair kits for your car in 2020.
Top 10 Best Car Paint Chip Repair Kits 2021
1. Best Overall Pick: Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover
A dedicated paintwork restoration product, Carfidant Scratch and Swirl remover isn’t designed to fully remove deep scratches or other damage. Instead, it’s a finishing polish that removes light scratches, swirls, and other paint imperfections, whether they’re caused by repairs to deeper chips, car washes and branches, or even day to day wear.
The premium chemical mix is approved for all colors and manufacturers, and can safely be used on all clear coats, single-stage, and multi-stage paints, meaning that no matter what you’re driving, you can use this with confidence.
The kit includes a good quality buffing sponge and the scratch remover formula but can also be used with any other buffing tools, including power tools. Made in the USA, it’s the perfect accompaniment to any of our top repair kits.
- Restores paintwork to a clean shine
- One bottle will last for multiple applications
- Satisfaction guarantee
- Only a finishing polish, doesn't fill chips or deeper scratches
- Relatively expensive for what you get
If you know anything about cars, you’ve heard the name Turtle Wax. Turtle Wax is recognized for their high-quality washing and detailing products.
This kit is advertised as a complete kit but compared to some of the others on this list, that’s a misnomer. Real ‘complete-kits’ come with a color matched paint, and this doesn’t. Instead, it comes with a clear coat pen and clarifying compound. Rather than infilling scratched paintwork, Turtle Wax’s scratch repair kit strips it down to the level of the scratch, then builds it back up again, good as new.
The kit comes with the repair pen, which is as easy to use as a regular pen, and three different grains of sandpaper, used in sequence to even out your scratches. You also get two spray bottles, one of clarifying compound, and one of lubricant, which is a nice touch. Spray bottles are easier to use than a tub or bottle, and it makes it much simpler to end up with even coverage.
One of the best things about the kit is the simplicity. The instructions are simple, and once the clear coat pen has been used, it takes a minute or two of rubbing down and a quick buff. Start to finish, it takes a handful of minutes.
There are a few negatives, though. One, you can’t use this kit on any scratch or chip that’s deep enough to have exposed bare metal. Two, it’s not recommended for use on metallic paints, as it tends to leave obvious marks. Three, if this is your first time using the kit, go very slow, and check every step as you go. The provided chemicals are powerful, and it’s very easy to over-polish.
- Compound contains sealant
- The finish is fantastic, as expected from Turtle Wax
- The simple process is easy to follow
- Can only be used on scratches and small chips
- Be careful not to over-polish
Half of the hard work repairing scratches and chips in your car or truck’s paint comes from the time necessary to buff out the finish once the paint is applied. Most products want you to do this manually, but there’s no reason to. After all, professional car detailers and repair shops will use a buffing machine, so why can’t you?
This kit fits into any standard power drill that runs between 1200 and 1600RPM, slotting in like a drill bit. It’s a 3 step approach to repairs, starting with sanding, then compounding, and finally polishing everything to a mirror finish. It comes with everything you need to bring your paintwork back up to factory finish, including two pouches each of scratch remover and rubbing compound.
3M is known for their scientific approach, and it shows. The instructions are some of the clearest on the market, with defined and easy to follow steps that are almost impossible to get wrong.
This is still only a scratch removal kit, so it’s not suitable for deep chips or other significant damage. However, there’s nothing stopping someone from buying a chip repair kit and using it first, then using this kit to polish out the result for a significantly better finish.
- Contains everything you need to remove even deep scratches from your paintwork
- Fits into any standard power drill
- Reusable, so it's useful over and over again
- Not suitable for chips, but could be used with another product
- You have to be careful not to overdo an area and strip the finish
4. Best Color Match: Color N Drive Touch-Up Kit
The best complete touch-up kit on our list, Color N Drive is color-matched to your car’s OEM paint code for the closest and most uniform paint job possible. The kit is absolutely comprehensive, containing everything you need to strip, treat, and seal chipped and scratched paintwork.
The box contains a huge amount, starting with the German-made and patented cleaning solution to prepare your working area. From there, you can apply the paint with any of the provided brushes. Once the paint is dry, any imperfections or extra globs of paint can be stripped with the included paste and tools, leaving you with a smooth finish. Finally, use the carnauba-based wax to polish your paint to a mirror shine.
That might sound like a lot of work, and we won’t lie, it is. The Color N Drive kit takes more intensive work to apply than almost every other kit on this list. Plus, once it’s applied, the manufacturers recommend keeping an eye on the area and applying regular touch up coats.
But there’s a reason. Results. Applied correctly, this kit will leave your vehicle’s paint smooth and perfectly even. Downsides are minor. Apart from the extra effort involved, the instructions can be a little hard to follow at time, so take it slow and have everything ready before you begin. There’s a reason Color N Drive is the preferred touch up paint of car enthusiasts across the USA. It works.
- Good color matching
- Complete kit with everything you need
- Comprehensive and clear instructions
- Takes more work than some kits
- Follow up treatments are recommended
5. Best Professional Kit: Langka Complete Paint Repair Kit
Langka specializes entirely in high-quality paint repair kits, so their inclusion in this list was a given, and this kit doesn’t disappoint. Everything comes packaged in an attractive clamshell case that makes storage and organization simple.
The kit is near-perfect. Inside is a 2oz bottle of pre-paint, which prepares the area before you apply the color. This is fantastic, drawing ingrained dirt and grime out of even hairline cracks that other cleaning products wouldn’t touch. There is also a bottle of paint sealant, and our favorite, a bottle of Langka Blob Eliminator. One of the most common problems when repairing scratches and chips is the paint blobbing, which if not treated is highly visible and looks awful against the finish.
Langka’s Blob Eliminator melts blobs down in minutes, letting you strip them from your vehicle without damaging the rest of the paintwork. Supposedly, with careful use, you could use the kit to treat around 50 individual stone chips or minor scratches.
Also included are 3 micro-brushes for applying paint, and a plastic squeegee card for smoothing out lumpy paintwork after it’s been applied.
The only thing stopping this from stealing our top spot is that it doesn’t come with any paint. This is a minor downside because you have to buy the paint separately. But it’s also a big upside because it means you can use this kit on any car, with paint from any manufacturer, including custom paint jobs. In most cases, it’s easy enough to get a touch-up pen or order a pre-mixed pot from your local car dealership.
It’s hard to find a major flaw in this kit. Like all of the products on this list that promise professional-level results, it takes a little work to apply, requires multiple coats, and takes a long time to dry. We also recommend you watch Langka’s instructional videos, which will run you through the application process from start to finish. So even absolute beginners can achieve a pro-finish from the comfort of their own home.
- All three included products are high-quality
- Professional level finish
- Covers a large area
- Paint not included
- Plastic squeegee card is fragile, snaps easy
6. Best Universal Color Pick: Turtle Wax Color Magic Pen
Sometimes, simplicity is the best solution. Turtle Wax’s Color Magic Pen is simple, but not any less effective because of it. The design is basic, looking like a large Sharpie marker, and the felt tip is easy to get the hang of.
Like all pen designs, you don’t draw with it. Instead, you dab downwards, letting the pen deliver a spot of paint, then move along the scratch or divot. With a little practice, it’s possible to fill deep scratches and rock chips in minutes, and the pen contains enough paint to cover up to 144 inches of continuous scratches.
You have a choice of colors, each part of Turtle Wax’s Universal Color Match range, designed to match the most popular manufacturer’s colors on the market. Because of that, it might not be a precise match to your car’s existing paintwork, so always test it on an unobtrusive area first.
The results are solid and leave a durable bond despite being a one-step formula, but the quality of the finish is mostly dependent on the user. Make sure you follow the instructions and use it as directed. But with a little care, this pen can make smaller scratches and chips disappear like magic.
- Simple to use
- Excellent budget option for small imperfections
- Universal Color Match isn't exact
- As a pen the finish isn't always perfect
7. Best Touch-Up Paint: Paint2Fix Brand Matched Touch-Up Paint
Paint2Fix produces a huge range of products that are designed to match the color of your vehicle as closely as possible. Each kit is color-matched to the specific manufacturer’s paint, with a 100% match guarantee for every shade. Find your make, model, and paint code, and you should be able to find a kit that’s matched to it, straight out of the box.
Inside every box is a complete kit, with everything you need to repair chips and scratches, straight out of the box. Included is a paint formula and blending solution, letting you blend the perfect match to your vehicle’s paintwork, even if it’s dulled by age and sunlight. Multiple micro brushes are included, giving you the ability to cover multiple chips or store the remainder for later use. Finally, there’s a high-grade wax and microfiber cloth to polish everything in once it’s done.
One thing that isn’t provided is a high-grade sealant. While you don’t need to reseal your paintwork after treating it, it is highly recommended as it makes any repairs last much longer.
The instructions are clear and simple to follow, making this kit easy to apply. It can take a little time to get right, so clear a couple of hours, and it’s best to leave your car for a few hours afterward so that everything can set before you take it on the road again.
Paint2Fix kits come with the option for multiple pack sizes, letting you buy as much or as little as you need:
- Bronze level comes with the least paint and solution and is suitable for small worn patches, single chips or several scratches.
- Silver level comes with almost double the amount of paint and is suitable for larger scratches or dings.
- Gold level comes with a large amount of paint that will cover a huge area, as well as almost twice as many applicator brushes and more blending solution.
- Color match technology can be matched to almost any brand
- Simple, easy to follow instructions
- Buy as much as you need
- Doesn't come with sealant
- Blending the color takes a little practice
8. Best for GM vehicles: ALDelco Four-In-One Touch-Up Pen
For such a small thing, there’s a lot packed into each ALDelco pen. To start, each one is color-matched to your vehicle’s specific GM factory code, for the perfect match to your existing paintwork.
Each pen is a four-in-one applicator, with the choice of a piston style pen at the top which activates on pressure, or a thicker brush applicator on the opposite end, ideal for filling in larger chips and dents. Also included is a sanding stone, and a clear coat tip for the finishing coat.
Pens like these are incredibly easy to use. Shake it to get the paint flowing, push the pen down onto some scrap card to load the nib, then dab it into the area that needs filling. Make sure that you don’t try to paint it on, even with the brush, as this leads to a streaked and uneven finish. Also consider that a pen like this doesn’t self-level the paint, so the end product will have to be sanded down and polished.
There are a few small problems, including the fact that the pen can leak after use, but these are relatively minor, especially considering how cheap and simple this is. If it wasn’t a manufacturer-specific product, this would be a 5-star choice every time.
- Incredibly simple to use
- Color-matched to any GM vehicle
- The choice of brush or pen
- Should only be used on GM manufactured vehicles
9. Best Inexpensive Color Matching: MagicEzy Color Match Repair Kit
The ability to mix paint to get the closest match possible makes a lot of sense, which is why it’s also used in one of our top choices, the Paint2Fix touch-up kits. But larger kits like that are expensive, especially if you’ve only got a small area to cover.
In situations like this, where you might only have one or two scratches or one big, noticeable chip, the MagicEzy is a solid option. Inside each kit is a pair of colors, designed around the most common paint colors on the market. They can be mixed or applied separately until you have your desired color.
Unlike a lot of the paints on this list, MagicEzy paint has a thick, almost gel-like consistency. This makes it much simpler to apply, as it’s less likely to drip or leave blobs. The kit is designed around a one-touch application method, where you clean the area, squirt the paint onto the damage, then wipe it flat in one sitting, and that’s the whole process.
Because the paint is so thick and not matched to any individual color, this kit can be used on more than just metal. It’s safe to use on bumpers, hoods, metal, fiberglass, and even PVC. The finished product is durable, lasting around 3 years on average, under normal circumstances, and the finish can even be changed from gloss to matte.
Unfortunately, the applicators aren’t the best, and the thicker consistency can be hard to work with. You’re likely to end up with a messier finish than on a lot of our more highly rated products, meaning that this is better suited for smaller areas, or rugged vehicles where a little bit of spatter is less likely to be noticed.
- Lets you match the color of your vehicle as closely as possible
- Tough, hard-wearing result should last a long time, and is resistant to damage
- Budget option, good for smaller, less visible chips
- Matching the color takes a little work
- Can be hard to get a smooth finish
10. Best Brush Applicator: SongVen Car Scratch Removal Applicator
Simple but effective is the best way to describe these brush-based applicators. Unlike some of the more complicated kits, that require preparation, several layers of solution, and sometimes complicated tools, all these need is a quick shake and you’re good to go.
Ideal for small scratches, and also for small but deep chips, a brush takes no explanation. Dab it into the damaged area, give it time to dry, then polish up and finish. Despite the cheap price, paint quality is good, with vibrant colors and a tough, waterproof finish without needing further coating. (But we still always recommend applying a good clear coat finish.)
The tube provided comes with enough paint to cover a huge area, potentially an entire panel. It also keeps for a long time, several years if looked after correctly, making this a nice tool that you can tuck away in the garage just in case the worst happens.
Most manufacturers are moving away from brush applicators for a reason. Pen applicators are better for smaller scratches, and for anything bigger, there are much better options. With that said, this does exactly what you need it to do, and it’s a fantastically cheap option with admirable quality.
- There are a wide selection of available colors
- Brush applicators are easy to use
- Low price
- Generic colors might not be an exact match
- The finish from brush-type applicators tends to be worse than other options
The Paint Chip Repair Kit Buyer’s Guide
The paintwork on your car isn’t just there to look pretty. Modern paint acts as another layer of protection for the metalwork, and most modern cars also have a secondary layer of clear paint over the top of their colored layer called a clear coat.
Any flaw in the paintwork of your car exposes it to the elements. Metal can very quickly start to rust or corrode, and once it’s started, corrosion is almost impossible to get rid of, and can necessitate the replacement of an entire panel, or in the worst case, cause structural damage to the frame of the car itself.
It’s especially important to repair a paint chip if bare metal is exposed. If you can see bare metal, repair the damage as soon as you possible can, as it can start to rust within 4 to 5 days.
Cold and wet weather means that water can work under the edges of the exposed paint. As temperatures reach freezing, water expands, pushing the paint away from the metal and making the chip far worse over time. If the temperature repeatedly shifts above and below freezing, even a tiny chip can grow deceptively fast.
The Difference Between Chips and Scratches and What That Means to You
Not all damage to your paint should be treated the same, here are a few common blemishes you may see on your car’s paint job and an idea of what fixing them will entail.
Stone chips are a common feature in the paintwork of most vehicles, especially after a couple of years on the road.
They tend to congregate on the bonnet, front bumper and side panels, leaving a small pattern of dents and chips commonly called ‘road rash.’
Single, individual chips tend to be caused by gravel and stones thrown upwards by other cars. These chips are normally larger, and they’re more common in winter, when roads are being gritted regularly, or on freeways and other high-speed roads, but can happen without warning at any time, so they are impossible to predict or protect yourself from.
A scratch can be caused by almost anything, but the most common causes are car washes, both hand car washes and automatic machines, and by people or objects rubbing, scraping or knocking into your car.
Scratches tend to be less deep than chips because the force of impact is spread along the paintwork, rather than directly at it, which results in a longer, shallower damage pattern rather than a chunk of missing paint.
Because of this, and because the damage pattern is a long, thin line, scratches can be much easier to repair than chips, normally needing just a simple coat of paint and a polish.
Paint Chip Repair Kit Frequently Asked Questions
Are Paint Chip Repair Kits Worth Using?
Absolutely. Often, people who are biased against kits like these have an outdated view of what they are. Most people who think of touch-up kits think of cheap, shoddy pens that leave visible discolored streaks, but those days are long gone.
Now, most paint touch-up kits contain color-matched, manufacturer-approved paint that’s going to be the same shade and brand as any paint used by a repair shop, meaning that with a little work and care, the results should be near-indistinguishable from the surrounding paintwork.
Is There Ever a Reason to Avoid Using a Home Paint Repair Kit?
There’s a simple rule of thumb for when to try and repair at home, and when to take the car to the shop.
Car paint repair kits are designed to repair the paint and primer of your vehicle. If the impact was bad enough that it damaged the bodywork of your car, take it to the shop.
At best, you’ll paint over bodywork damage that will be permanently visible until you replace the panel. At worst you’ve just compromised the structure of your car, or it has underlying damage which is only going to get worse.
In What Order Do I Apply Each Layer of Paint?
- Start by cleaning and drying the damaged area, and removing all rust and corrosion
- If there is bare metal, apply a layer of primer
- Once the primer is dry, apply a layer of paint
- When the paint has dried, apply a layer of clear coat.
- Wet sand the area with fine grain sandpaper to smooth out any imperfections
- If necessary, apply further layers of paint once the initial layer has completely dried
Where Can I Find My Car’s Paint Code?
There are multiple places this might be found on your car, and it varies between manufacturers. You’re looking for the car’s identification plate, which contains information like make and model, engine size, serial number, and color code. Places to look include:
- The glove box
- Under the hood
- In the boot
- Inside the door frame on the driver’s side
If you still can’t find your car’s paint code, you can check this list, or search online for your car’s model and the year in which it left the factory.
I’ve Applied Too Much Paint. How Do I Remove It?
After repairing your car using a chip repair kit, it’s common for small paint blobs to be left on the surface of your vehicle.
They’re relatively simple to get off with a little paint thinner and a q-tip, but make sure you wait until the paint has dried.
Don’t try to wipe away wet paint, because it will streak and ruin your paintwork.
My Car’s Paintwork Has Aged. What Can I Do?
This is a difficult situation. The first option is to buy color matched paint that’s adjusted based on the age and weathering of your car, but this is an involved process, expensive and normally requires taking your car to the shop to get it resprayed.
The second, better option is to buy a color-matched repair kit. These come with paint that is matched to your vehicle’s make and model, as well as a second pot of mixer, which you slowly add to the main paint to fade and dull it down until it matches the color of your existing paintwork.
Unfortunately, neither of these options will ever be perfect, as no new coat of paint is going to have experienced the events that changed the color of your vehicle’s paintwork.
But in general, smaller chips and scratches won’t show, even if your paint has faded slightly from UV damage or other environmental factors. Larger chips might show, especially in direct sunlight, but using a smaller kit like this makes matching that difficult.
How Long Does It Take to Repair a Paint Chip?
Much less time than you might think. Like most things when it comes to car care, more than half of your time is spent in preparation and aftercare.
For chip and scratch repairs, that means sanding down and cleaning the damaged area, making sure it’s free from corrosion, wax, grease or anything else that might prevent the paint from cleanly adhering.
Once the vehicle is prepared, actually applying the primer, paint and clear coat can only take a few minutes, with a short break in between to wait for coats to dry.
Once the paint is applied, the surface has to be sanded and rubbed down, until the repair is flush and clean with existing paintwork. It can take multiple layers of paint and clear coat, with even more sanding, to achieve the perfect finish, which can be a slow and tedious process, depending on the depth of the chip and extent of the damage.
Our top picks are all complete kits for a reason. Getting everything you need in a single box ensures that you’re not going to get halfway through the process and have to make an emergency run to the hardware store. Plus, every kit reviewed had consistently excellent performance across the board.
If in doubt, find a complete repair kit that’s matched to your car’s make and model, and you’ll be in good hands.