The Best Automotive Touch-Up Paint for Small Signs of Damage

For scratches or small dings on your car’s surface, try one of the best automotive touch-up paints to restore your exterior.

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The Best Automotive Touch-Up Paint for Small Signs of Damage ©The Best Automotive Touch-Up Paint for Small Signs of Damage
Best Overall Mopar Touch-Up Paint Pen Mopar Touch-Up Paint Pen
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This all-in-one automotive touch-up paint pen makes it simple to fix scratches and chips without any extras required.

Pros
  • Includes prep, paint, and clear coat in one
  • Easy to apply to scratches and chips
  • Colors are make and model specific
Cons
  • Clear coat is trickier than the paint to apply
  • Can go on pretty thick
Best Value Rust-Oleum Automotive Scratch & Chip Repair Marker Rust-Oleum Automotive Scratch & Chip Repair Marker
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An automotive touch-up paint solution that goes on smoothly and offers long-term fade and weather resistance at a great price.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Offers a brush tip and marker tip
  • Dries to the touch in just 30 minutes
Cons
  • Colors aren’t always an exact match
  • Doesn’t include prep tip or clear coat
Honorable Mention TouchUpDirect Exact Match Touch-Up Paint Essential Kit TouchUpDirect Exact Match Touch-Up Paint Essential Kit
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For an almost flawless color match, this automotive touch-up paint really delivers and can handle chips as well as scratches.

Pros
  • Color is formulated to offer an exact match for your make and model
  • Brush applicator is easy to control
  • Eco-friendly paint blend
Cons
  • Best for damage the size of a thumbnail or larger

It happens to every driver and every car, new or old: You walk up to your car and grab the door handle, only to discover a fresh scratch marring your once-pristine exterior. Chips, small dings, light scratches — all different kinds of damage can take your car from flawless to frustratingly damaged. And it’s not like you have the cash to head to the dealership every time a new mark appears. Fortunately, fixing up your car’s exterior paint is often as easy as using a quality automotive touch-up paint. 

These easy-to-use products are designed to make covering up small scratches and other slight signs of damage a breeze, either in the form of a pen or spray-on aerosol. Breathe new life into your car’s exterior and use one of the best automotive touch-up paints available.

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Our Methodology

To select our picks for the best automotive touch-up paint products, we took a look at the many different varieties available. We considered and compared touch-up paint pens, sprays, and brush-on products, looking first at the available paint colors and how well they could match vehicle paints. Those products that offered customized color blends specific for certain makes and models were standouts, as well as those that offered an OEM-exact blend for popular vehicle models. We also considered the ease of application and other key details, such as whether the touch-up paint was merely paint alone or a combination of paint and clear coat in one. And we took a look at users’ comments, looking for signs of quality like great color matching, clear instructions, and great final appearance.

Best Automotive Touch-Up Paint Reviews & Recommendations

The Mopar Touch-Up Paint Pen is an all-in-one solution for small scratches, chips, and other slight signs of damage. It makes quick work of paint touch-ups, providing you with an easy-to-use paint pen in the color of your choice, and there’s an array of colors available for different makes and models, including Jeep hard tops and auto equipment. While it’s a small automotive touch-up paint tool, you do get an abrasive prep tip to clear the surface, 0.25 ounces of exact-color match paint, and clear coat, plus an additional foam applicator just for the clear coat. With nothing but a little dab and a tiny amount of pressure, you can have your paint damage fixed in mere minutes. And you’ll have spot-on coverage that looks great from near and far.

When you’re applying this automotive touch-up paint, you’ll want to be light with your hand. The paint can come out quickly, and too much can leave behind a too-thick layer that can’t be fixed. Practice beforehand to avoid any lumpy, bumpy final results.

Specs
  • Application Style: Paint pen
  • Includes: Abrasive prep tip, paint, and clear coat
  • Size: 0.25 ounces
PROS

All-in-one touch-up tool

Available in a wide range of colors for different makes and models

Glossy finish when applied

Convenient, easy application

CONS

Clear coat can be a little tricky to apply

Easy to over apply and leave thick

If you have a common paint color on the exterior of your vehicle and are searching for the most affordable solution to repair damage, the Rust-Oleum Automotive Scratch & Chip Repair Marker will fit the bill. Made to make covering up damage a breeze, this handy little tool offers 0.5 ounces of paint in the color of your choice, plus two application heads in one. You can use the brush head to smooth on paint over slightly larger scratches and chips, or use the fine-tipped marker to fill in smaller areas of damage. It works quickly, too, drying to the touch in just 30 minutes. As an added bonus, the applicator body is flexible and lets you have more control over the paint flow, with a non-clogging tip to keep paint moving. As an extra bonus, the paint is made with weather- and fade-resistant properties to last you a long time without costing much.

Keep in mind that color matching may not be perfect with this automotive touch-up paint. Rust-Oleum offers “universal OEM factory colors,” but they’re really just single shades of glossy or matte paint in common colors like black, white, and red. They aren’t formulated to specifically match your exact make and model. Additionally, you’ll have to buy clear coat separately.

Specs
  • Application Style: Paint brush and marker
  • Includes: Paint
  • Size: 0.5 ounces
PROS

Affordable

Dries in just 30 minutes

Flexible bottle offers great paint control

Offers two application methods in one for different-sized damage

CONS

Doesn’t include prep or clear coat

Color selection is somewhat limited and not an exact match

Paint brushes can be a little trickier to control, but the TouchUpDirect Exact Match Touch Up Paint Essential Kit defies that logic. With a slim, easy-to-manage brush applicator and 0.35 ounces of perfectly mixed paint, you can cover up everything from long scratches to larger chips. Available in an array of make and model specific colors, each blend of touch-up paint is low-VOC and environmentally conscious. You’ll find each paint specific to certain vehicles, which helps you ensure you’re getting as close to an OEM match as possible (and TouchUpDirect will even match the colors from your model year). The brush is built into the applicator cap, and it can be used for light chips and minor scratches. Keep in mind that it’s best for those that are at least a thumbnail’s width in size.

Worried about clear coat? This kit also includes this final step for you so you can ensure your touch-up job lasts as long as possible. You’ll get one bottle of paint and one bottle of clear coat, each with their own brush.

Specs
  • Application Style: Brush
  • Includes: Paint and clear coat
  • Size: 0.35 ounces
PROS

Brush applicator is easy to hold and control

Low-VOC eco-friendly paint

Formulated for specific make and model paint colors

Makes for a very accurate match

CONS

Have to purchase and apply clear coat separately

Best for larger areas of damage bigger than a thumbnail

Plenty of automotive touch-up paint products can infuse color over areas of damage, but the Duplicolor Perfect Match Touch-Up Scratch-Seal Pen goes a step further. It’ll cover up scratches and chips, delivering 8 ounces of glossy-finish paint in the color of your choice, and it’ll also help you protect those scratched areas with a permanent seal. The one-coat formula includes both primer and paint, and once it’s applied, the paint seals in your color with a protective top coat that prevents rust, corrosion, and further paint flaking. Plus, it’s easy to apply thanks to the two applicator heads: brush on one end, pen tip on the other. You’ll also like how an extra abrasive prep tip helps you get your vehicle’s surface ready for touching up.

Unfortunately, while Duplicolor claims that this automotive touch-up paint is approved by vehicle manufacturers for a perfect factory match, the colors aren’t a flawless finish for every vehicle. You may notice slight shade differences up close, and for some colors, such as white or black, getting just the right tone is a challenge.

Specs
  • Application Style: Paint pen and brush
  • Includes: Abrasive prep tip, paint, and clear coat
  • Size: 8 ounces
PROS

All-in-one priming, prep, and protection product

Seals scratches and chips for long-term rust prevention

Ergonomic pen applicator is easy to control

Offers pen tip and brush tip for versatility

CONS

Colors aren’t always a perfect match

Best for General Motors’ Vehicles

Looking for the perfect color match for your Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, or other General Motors vehicle? The ACDelco GM Original Equipment Four-in-One Touch-Up Paint is designed to fill in and perfect any scratches or chips that appear on the surface of your car’s exterior. Designed like a paint pen, this product is actually a four-in-one applicator that offers a fiberglass cleaning and prep tool, a piston-style pen tip, and a tapper tip brush applicator so you can prep surfaces and tackle small or larger damage. Plus, you’ll also get 0.25 ounces of clear coat so you can seal and protect the touch-ups once they’re finished. Best of all, because ACDelco creates GM OEM products, you can trust that you’re getting as close to your original paint job as possible.

While it’s a relatively simple automotive touch-up paint tool to use, however, the pen tip is less precise and perfectly colored than the brush end. The pen delivers a darker color for many, and it also creates a thicker flow of paint. You may need to use a toothpick or separate brush to smooth out its paint immediately after applying.

Specs
  • Application Style: Brush and marker
  • Includes: Paint and clear coat
  • Size: 0.5 ounces
PROS

GM factory original paint colors

Four-in-one applicator for multipurpose use

Applicator features a mechanical agitator to help color matching

Works for small-to-medium damage

CONS

Pen tip delivers a darker blend of paint color

May need a toothpick or extra brush to smooth out the flow from the pen tip

If you’re dealing with more than a small scratch or tiny chip, a can of Duplicolor Perfect Match Touch-Up Spray Paint is the product you need in your garage. Available in a wide selection of colors, this automotive touch-up paint offers OEM-match options for many popular makes and models. Plus, unlike many smaller products, this is an aerosol spray that can cover more area in mere seconds. With a 360-degree EZ Touch nozzle, you can spray in an exact direction and get full coverage in just a few sweeping motions. The aerosol paint in each can is a fast-drying acrylic lacquer that’s specifically formulated to deliver a flat color match. It’s dry to the touch in just half an hour, and it’s dry enough to handle in one hour.

Unfortunately, you will need to apply your own clear coat for protection and a glossy finish. Additionally, because of the flat nature of this paint, it may not be a perfect match for every vehicle or every exterior color.

Specs
  • Application Style: Aerosol spray
  • Includes: Paint
  • Size: 8 ounces
PROS

Applies easily

Covers large areas quickly

Dries in just 30 minutes

Available in an array of OEM-match color choices

CONS

Not for small areas of damage

May not be a perfect match due to flat finish

Whether you’re working with small or large areas of scratches, chips, and other wear or tear, Touch-Up Express Aerosol Spray can be just what you need. When it comes to matching color and quick, easy application, this aerosol spray automotive touch-up paint really delivers. It can be used on rock chips or tiny surface scratches or larger areas. Each 12-ounce can features single-stage urethane paint that’s been specially mixed for your make, model, and year, and the quality is great when you’re working to achieve a shiny, glossy finish. This paint is fast-drying and leaves behind a durable final result. The precise fan patterns help you target your application.

The only potential drawback to this aerosol automotive touch-up paint is the can itself can drip or splatter. This, if you aren’t keeping a close eye on the can, may alter how your touch-ups turn out. And while clear coat isn’t included, the paint is designed to be able to skip that final step.

Specs
  • Application Style: Aerosol spray
  • Includes: Paint
  • Size: 12 ounces
PROS

Durable urethane paint

Easy to apply

Dries in just 30 minutes

Colors mixed for specific makes and models

CONS

Doesn’t include clear coat

Can may drip and splatter

Our Verdict 

When it comes to ease of application and great paint matching, the Mopar Touch-Up Paint Pen is your biggest ally. You can use this touch-up solution and its all-in-one nature easily, any time you come across small scratches or chips. If it’s value you’re prioritizing, the Rust-Oleum Automotive Scratch & Chip Repair Marker is affordable and delivers good coverage.

What to Consider When Buying Automotive Touch-Up Paint

Before you grab any old touch-up paint and cross your fingers hoping it’ll suit your needs, figure out which paint products are easy to use, a good match for your vehicle and type of damage, and how to pick out a quality touch-up paint by reading this guide.

Automotive Touch-Up Paint Key Features

Application Method

Getting just the right amount of paint in the spots where it’s needed requires a bit of a steady hand and an easy-to-use application method. That’s why automotive touch-up paint pens are so popular. They allow you to apply just a dab or two of paint with precision. But for some scratches or other kinds of surface damage, a touch-up paint pen may not be the right fit. If you’re working with larger areas in need of touching up, you’ll want to go with a different application method, like a small brush or aerosol spray.

Paint Color and Match

If you apply the wrong paint color, your touch-up is quickly going to turn into a disaster. And it’s especially frustrating when you get a color that’s close, but not an exact match. Make sure you take a close look at the exact paint color of any automotive touch-up product and see what makes and models it’s designed for. You can find OEM matches from companies like ACDelco, or you can opt for a model-specific color blend offered by a third party brand.

Clear Coat Included

You can either choose an automotive touch-up paint that offers paint alone or a product that includes paint and clear coat in one. It’s entirely up to you if you want to apply paint, then your own clear coat or opt for an all-inclusive option, but using a paint that includes clear coat can save you some time and effort. These products allow you to prep, apply, and move on without waiting.

Automotive Touch-Up Paint Pricing 

If you’re opting for an automotive touch-up paint pen, you can expect to spend between $9 and $15 in total for a single color of paint (and just a few ounces). Aerosol spray touch-up paints can fall into the same price range, though they may be between $15 and $20 if you opt for 8 ounces or more of paint. Custom paint blends made for your vehicle are the most expensive option, typically running anywhere from $30 to $50 in price.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Do automotive touch-up paint pens work?

A: Touch-up paint pens work great when you’re dealing with light surface scratches that have only affected the clear coat. It’s an easy way to control the amount of paint you’re working with, and it’s super simple to wield. However, if you’re dealing with deeper scratches, a paint pen won’t be enough to offer proper coverage.

Q: Do I need to apply clear coat after touch-up paint?

A: To protect your touch-up paint like the rest of your car’s paint job, you’ll want to apply clear coat once you’ve covered up the existing damage. You can use just a small amount, but even little scratches that have been touched up will benefit.

Q: How long does automotive touch-up paint last?

A: Typically, you can expect touch-up paint to last 4-5 years. Smaller areas tend to last longer than larger fixes, and making sure you follow all of the prep and application steps can help extend touch-up paint’s lifespan.

Sources:

  1. Automotive Paint – Wikipedia
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