This article was first published in 2006.
Has your car got a few scratches? The odd car-park
scrape? A couple of stand-out stone chips? Well, fixing these blemishes needn’t
mean leaving your car at a local paint/panel shop – you can call an on-site
paint repairer such as ChipsAway.
ChipsAway operates out of most Australian cities
and will perform most repairs to key scratches, stone chips, bumper scrapes,
exterior trims, small dents and alloy wheels. All of this can be performed at
your home or work – so long as there’s a power point, an undercover area and a
tap. Repairs can typically be performed within a week of contact – in most
instances, there’s a preliminary inspection of the job and the repair is
performed within a day or two.
In this article we follow one of the ChipsAway
agents as they repair a couple of blemishes on our ’97 Mitsubishi Verada...
Lower Sill Scrape
As seen here, our Verada’s passenger side lower
sill trim panels (which are made from plastic) had been scraped when the
previous owner reversed over a moss rock in a carpark. The type of damage is
very similar to most scrapes on the corner of a bumper bar.
The first step is to remove any loose paint and
achieve a smooth surface. This is begun with a compressor-driven sanding disc
using relatively fine (120 grit) abrasive paper. Note that the edge of the
repair area is masked using tape.
When the bulk of the repair area has been disc
sanded, the area is rubbed back by hand using finer 240 grit paper. This manual
rubbing stage also involves feathering along the panel to avoid leaving an
obvious ‘repair zone’.
Once rubbed back, the area is fully masked in
preparation for the primer. Preparation also involves lightly spraying the area
with water, cleaning it with a cloth and drying it using a heat gun (as seen
Regardless whether the car is painted in 2-pack or
acrylic, the repair area is then sprayed in a universal grey primer. Two layers
of primer are typically applied and a heat gun may be used to dry the surface
before applying the second coat.
Next is the guide coat. The guide coat is a black
coloured primer that highlights any high or low areas during sanding.
The guide coat and primer are now rubbed flat by
hand using 800 – 1200 grit paper. The area is again wiped clean and dried in
preparation for the first layer of paint.
Now comes the task of matching the existing paint
colour. The first step is to pop the bonnet and find the factory paint code. The
code is then entered into a database (each ChipsAway van carries a laptop
computer) and the paint ingredients are displayed. The HH paint code of our
Verada (‘2-pack Kashmire Beige Effect’) required a specific mix of aluminium,
transoxide red, transparent brown and two different binders. A repair area of
the size on the Verada required mixing 20ml of paint. ChipsAway uses DuPont
Before splashing the paint on the lower sill, the
closeness of the colour match is tested using a small metal tab which is sprayed
with the new paint mix. The tab is then held against part of the original paint.
It’s important that the colour match is checked at various light angles.
In most cases, the suggested paint mix is
virtually spot-on. In our case, a perfect colour match was achieved by adding
two drops of yellow to the 20ml mix.
The last step before applying the new paint is to
clean the repair area with water and a ‘tack rag’ to remove any grit (which can
quite easily appear in an outside working environment). Next comes a light coat
of adhesion spray which helps ensure the new paint bonds to the primer.
In the case of our Verada, three coats of paint
were applied to the area of the repair. Less paint is applied as the spray gun
moves further away from the area of the repair – this ensures a gradual blend
with the factory paint. There’s no need for any rubbing between coats though the
heat gun may be used to dry the paint depending on ambient conditions. Spray gun
pressure is also varied in extreme temperature conditions.
Once enough paint is applied to cover the repair
area, the surface is finished with a clear coat. Our Verada received almost two
full layers of clear to achieve an identical appearance to the rest of the
vehicle’s paint. Note the use of a respirator is important when spraying clear
The final step is to hold an infrared light to the
newly painted area. This activates the hardener in the clear coat. Once this is
done, you should wait about an hour before driving the car – this virtually
eliminates the chance of picking up dust in the new paint.
And here’s the result - perfect in every way. But
we must point out we were a bit lucky that the damaged plastic trim hadn’t been
stretched – this would have been visible as a small ripple or wave in the paint.
As seen here, our Verada had also copped a few
stone chips – like most cars around ten years old.
Interestingly, stone chips are one of the most
difficult paint blemishes to fix. That’s because often there are several stone
chips across the front of the car and you might end up with what looks like a
‘patchwork’ repair. If that’s the case, it’s best to respray the entire panel.
If there are only a few chips (as in this case) a
good result can be achieved using artist brushes in sizes ranging from to 00 –
2. In the case of our Verada, the same paint mix used to fix the sill scrape was
used to fill these chips near the base of the driver’s A pillar. The pearl
effect paint of our Verada makes it impossible to achieve a perfect result using
this approach, however the chips are much less noticeable and the panel is now
protected from corrosion. A superior result is typically achieved when touching
up non-pearl/metallic paint.
As a customer courtesy, most ChipsAway agents will
have a walk around your car and give it a touch-up wherever necessary. This
helps use the remaining paint and gives you a ‘bonus’ that’ll keep you coming
back for more. The touch-ups performed after a walk-around typically include the
rear edge of the driver’s door and the door aperture scruff plates.
So what does an on-site paint repair cost?
Well, the total to fix our sill scrape and stone
chips (and the bonus touch-ups during the walk-around) came to AUD$170. Not bad
considering this includes on-site call-out, some expensive paint, between 2 – 3
hours labour and a lifetime warranty on the repairs.
You’ll pay roughly AUD$130 to repair a corner
scrape on a bumper, AUD$195 for a full bumper respray and AUD$40 to bring your
faded wiper arms back to life. It’s a perfect service for preparing your car for
It’s convenient, affordable and very effective –