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Touching Up Car Paint

Finding the paint (from a post in the EEK mailing list)

Go to an auto body supply shop (look in the yellow pages), and have them mix the color, or use to have them make up paint for you.

If you're painting the car the same color, the paint code is on the fender tag (which on EEKs is actually on the radiator support). Give them the code and they will mix the stuff in any quantity you like. I had a can made up for my 1978 Volare; I gave them the paint code and asked for 4 ounces, for touch up. I think it was $6 plus tax [in the early 1990s], which is not much more than the spray paint cans; and the paint was fresh and it matched perfectly.

The paint code is on the line above the bottom line of the codes. It's the code (or codes) next to the P. For example, here is the appropriate line from the tag on my Acclaim:


The APA means single tone paint, so the next two codes will be the same. I believe that APB is dual tone paint. The code beginning with P is the main body paint color (mine is PMB), and the Q code is the secondary body paint (my car is only one color, so the MB is the same). Bring them the P code (and the Q if you need/want both colors) and they will mix it up.

The line may appear in different places, but the two paint codes will start with P and Q, and they will follow either APA or APx (if it's not APB). On the latest cars (1995 and up, I believe), the code will sometimes appear on the factory certification sticker on the door or door jamb.

This applies to any Chrysler-built car starting in 1984. Prior to that, the coding system was different.

Touch-up hints

The information in this first section was provided by a Dodge salesman who was fired shortly afterwards. He seemed to be pretty confident. Still, proceed at your own risk. Note addendum at the end from a pro detailer.

First, you need to use a good brush, not the one in the touch-up paint bottle. Get an artist's mink or sable brush. Cut it at a 45 degree angle. Clear off excess paint from the brush, then daub it on - do not brush it - as you go. Let the paint slide down the bristles and into the scratch / chip.

From personal experience, but you are still proceeding at your own risk:

I have found that some colors of paint, especially metallic blue, are hard to reproduce correctly. The touch up paint from Chrysler simply did not match either of my metallic blue cars, and a body shop had a hard time matching after the cars were hit (while parked). I got best results from mixing different colors, but be careful when you do this, because they dry a different color. Experiment first. ( says they have no problems with matching blues or any other color. They also note that they have a paint pen which they say works better than a brush.)

When painting into a scratch, you can usually wipe off excess or overdab using a lint-free, damp cloth, not a paper product.

White and non-metallic beige appear to be the best in terms of chip and peel discoloration.

More from Scott (Clean Concepts Professional Auto Detailing)

My input is from a professional detailer's perspective. For minor scratches, I like using an ordinary toothpick for application. This avoids the brush marks that may result, even when simply "dabbing" the paint on. The touch up must also be very well mixed.

Any touch up that's been sitting aorund for a while is junk, always use fresh paint. It's true that those paints never do actually match, but I've always come real close. It's a real trick, but with patience and a steady hand you can get halfway descent results.

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