Car Care DIY: Rock Chips

Unless you keep your car safely parked in your garage, it’s going to happen. Seemingly out of nowhere, a rock is going to bounce up off the road, hit your car, and chip the paint. It’s unsightly, but the appearance is the least of your problems. A rock or stone chip can go from a small problem to a big one if rust sets in. Left alone for long enough, corrosion could eat all the way through the metal, leaving a hole in your car’s body. Instead of calling the body shop to fix a rock chip, follow this DIY guide to repair your car’s paint job before any more damage can occur.

You’ll Need These Materials

DIY Car Car - Rock Chips - Auto USA

Image via Flickr by DBerry2006

Before you start, pick up these items:
  • Clean cloth
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Polishing compound
  • Touch-up paint
  • Clear coat
  • Car wax
Call your local car dealership to get a tube of touch-up paint that matches your car’s original color. To help them find the exact match, give them your car’s VIN number. You can find this on your car’s registration slip, on a sticker inside the driver’s door, or stamped on a plate near the windshield. If the touch-up paint includes clear coat, you don’t need to buy it separately.

Clean the Rock Chip and Surrounding Area

Dampen a clean cloth with denatured alcohol and gently wipe the rock chip and surrounding area to remove any dirt and wax from the car’s surface. Next, use a small amount of polishing compound to smooth any rough edges around the chip. Don’t overdo it or you could damage the surrounding clear coat. When you’re finished, rinse well with water to remove any residue.

Apply the Paint in Thin Layers

Carefully dab the touch-up paint into the rock chip one thin layer at a time, avoiding the existing paint. Allow each new coat of paint to dry completely before adding another layer. If the touch-up paint does not already include it, use clear coat instead of touch-up paint for the last layer. Overfill the chip by a small amount to account for any shrinkage as the paint dries.

Polish Again and Apply a Protective Layer of Wax

Give the paint at least 24 hours to dry fully and cure. Then, use the polishing compound once more to make sure the repaired surface is smooth. Rinse well and wait about a week before finishing with a layer of wax to protect the surface from rain and oxidation. This will give you the most attractive appearance and reduce the chances of rust later on. This DIY repair will still be visible if anyone looks closely, but it shouldn’t be noticeable from a few feet away. Moreover, it will help prevent rust and stop the original rock chip from spreading as the edges chip away over time. To make sure your fix holds, remember to check periodically for missing paint from the area. If you see bare metal, repeat this DIY repair again to avoid an expensive trip to the body shop.