Auto Paint Repair

How to Match Auto Body Paint Colors


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Ask anyone that has attempted to match auto body paint while trying to touch up a car and you will find that is definitely not an easy task. Each auto manufacturer develops unique shades of each color they use, and these vary by the year, making matching a nearly imperfect science. Even if you buy the correct paint, you still have to deal with sun damage and other outside factors. While this may seem daunting, you should know that there are ways for you to come extremely close, if not match the paint perfectly. Here’s how.

Step 1: Call Your Dealership or Detail Shop

First you need to call your local dealership and find out if there is a specific color code for the auto paint on your vehicle. Each manufacturer develops their own shades and paints and often assigns them a code. This number is extremely important, and with it you can buy the exact paint that was used on your car when it was new.

Step 2: Get Samples

If you are doing the work yourself, get samples of the paint. Dealerships will often provide you with a sample or you can call a local auto parts dealer and get what is called a “standard sample” of the color you want. These samples are used by detailers to match paint on vehicles, and if you bring the car in so that someone else will do the work, make sure you ask ahead of time for samples as well.

Step 3: Test the Sample

Next you can test the paint sample. Find an area on your car where you can match the paint that no one will notice, such as inside a door or under the bumper. Be forewarned, this is an imperfect science, because it is likely these areas are not subjected to the sun. Cars over 5 years old that are in the sun a lot will probably have sufficient fading, that you will be forced to get several samples in hopes of finding one that is close. In fact, you may need to seek outside help if your car is a custom color, old or faded. If the sample matches the paint, you can order it and continue with your repair.

Step 4: It Doesn’t Match?

In the unlikely event your color doesn’t match you can begin to experiment with other shades of the color you need. In particular, blue and red can be extremely difficult to match, and you may need assistance in order to get a good match. If you cannot find a match, you will have to have the vehicle brought into a detail shop or the dealership to see if they can help. 

Step 5: Other Options

If you can’t match the paint, you may have to consider other options. You can order paint online in various shades and try those. You can also mix colors if you feel up to the challenge or have the vehicle completely painted. A bad repair is going to look much worse than a scratch, so carefully consider your options. If possible, wait on the repair until such times as you can afford to hire a detail shop.

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