Put A Smile Back On Your Car’s Face

How to undertake some basic repairs and renovations to help cheer up your car’s appearance from a basic polish through to colour restoration and other basic repairs.

Give your car’s paintwork a new lease of life with some DIY renovation

If your car’s paintwork is looking a little tired, or perhaps some minor damage such as paint chips or the odd scuff is spoiling its appearance, then there’s much you can do in a few spare hours to cheer it up. From a vigorous polish to some basic paint repair you could save yourself a trip to the body repairers and save money.

Help is at hand

With the amount of different polishes, waxes, colour restorers and paint touch up repair materials now on the market it’s possible for those with a bit of time and DIY inclination to do a good job on their car.

That said, it’s important to know your limitations and also when a repair might be too much to attempt yourself; there will be occasions when the services of a professional will be required.

The basics

Arming yourself with the right materials and preparing properly is a major step to doing a good job.

Polishes and colour cuts – depending on what you’re doing, whether a basic polish to simply ‘cheer your car up’ or you need to remove basic surface scratches, ensure you obtain the correct polish, colour restorer, wax or colour cut and have plenty of clean polishing clothes to hand.

Painting – if you’ll be painting, ensure you have a good supply of clean and decent quality touch up brushes and cloths. If repairing a bumper, then you may need masking tape if you’re not removing the bumper from the car.

Repairs and renovations you could tackle:

Dull paintwork

A decent quality polish or wax will soon put the shine back into dull paintwork. Ensure the car is thoroughly clean first; it’s usually best not to apply in direct sunlight, but do follow the directions thoroughly.

Faded paintwork

A step on from polishing; to help get paintwork back to its former glory you’ll likely need a colour restorer. Follow the directions carefully and, once applied, you may then need to polish as above.

Minor scratches

For minor surface scratches such as those caused by perhaps foliage brushing the body on narrow country lanes or other mild abrasions, applying a colour cut may be enough. Similar to applying polish or colour restorer, it works by removing a very small amount of paint surface layer thus taking the scratching away with it.

Deeper scratches (such as stone chips)

Here you’ll be using at least some paint, so an important first step is to find out exactly what colour your car’s paintwork is. To do this accurately use this car paint codes checker so you can buy the correct shade.

A common repair job involving painting is on stone chips; many motorists encounter these despite the increasing use of plastics for bumper and frontal areas.

The basic steps:

  • Clean the area – ensure the area around the stone chips is clean and grease-free
  • Check depth – if bare metal or rust is showing through, you may be better off using a professional
  • Work slowly – don’t be tempted to try and paint it in one go; apply thinner layers of paint until it reaches the level of the surrounding paintwork

Other scratches

Longer scratches may be more difficult to repair as you’re moving into the realms of requiring a perfectly clean working area preferably under cover, and the difficulty of perfectly matching paint on more ‘open’ surfaces.

If your car is older it may be worth a go, but maybe for a newer car enlisting the help of a professional may be necessary.

Bumper repair

Plastic bumpers have been common on cars for some time now and represent a more repairable proposition than the older chrome types. That said, while basic scuffing could be tackled readily enough, cracks and splits may be a tougher proposition as these repairs will likely involve removing at least one section of the bumper.

If you decide to repair a crack or split, the best bet is to buy a bumper repair kit. These contain the materials you need and are compatible with one another but won’t include paint as, of course, bumpers are usually body colour so come in a variety of shades.

You’ll require the paint code checker linked to above to find the right paint for the job, and also check that the paint is suitable for the plastic surface of a bumper so won’t crack or flake.

Once the main repair is completed, you’ll next prime and paint it (the kit may contain primer). The painting needs time and care; apply two coats of primer, paint and finally clearcoat allowing each coat to dry fully before moving onto the next.

You’ll need to work under cover in the dry and to take your time following the instructions closely to achieve a good result.

Depending on what you’re supplied with in the bumper repair kit, ensure you have primer and clear coat along with the required paint colour.

Assessing the time and cost

While certain jobs will save money done yourself, you may find the time and expense of certain tasks is better served by using a professional body repairer. Perhaps checking costs of repairs versus doing them yourself may help you decide if it’s worth your while.