How to Use a Touch Up Paint Pen to Fix Small Scratches

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how to use a touch up paint pen

As much as we try to avoid scratches and chips to maintain our car’s flawless elegance, scrapes can still appear on our vehicle even when we least expect them. Thankfully, a quick, easy solution that doesn’t require a costly repair at the auto shop is the touch-up paint pen.

It can fix minor scratches and chips, though not severe, deep damages covering a large area, for which repainting the entire area would be necessary. If you need help with how to use a touch up paint pen, this article will show you how.

Step-By-Step to Use a Touch-up Paint Pen

1. Get a Touch-up Paint Pen That Matches Your Car’s Paintwork.


To get a vehicle touch up paint pen that matches your car’s paintwork, look for the paintwork’s color code. Please find it in the vehicle manual, service history documents, or the driver’s door jamb.

Once you’ve identified the color code, you can buy your paint pen. To help ensure the perfect match for your car’s paintwork, buy your pen from an OEM or precision color-matching supplier or your car’s manufacturer.

But aside from this tool, you’ll also need a car paint primer pen and a clear coat pen.

The clear coat paint pen may be a two-in-one type, with a colored tip on one side and a clear tip on the other end.

2. Work In Appropriate Conditions.


The best work condition for scratch repair with a touch-up paint pen is a warm, dry environment with a temperature between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid direct sunlight and high humidity. A good example is inside the garage.

3. Test the Touch-up Paint for Color Matching and Practice.


One important thing to do before using a paint corrector pen on a car is to test it to check if it’s the exact match to the paintwork. If not, you might end up having to remove the application through sanding.

Another step is to practice using the touch-up paint, primer, and clear coat pens. This will help prevent messes and allow you to properly apply touch up paint with the best results.

  • Use a metal can, a glossy sheet of paper, or an old photograph for testing the color and practicing.
  • The pen has to be thoroughly shaken with the cap still unopened before use for the paint to mix well and render the perfect shade. Keep shaking it until the ball inside is rattling freely.
  • Next, press the pen tip down to prime it and practice dabbing the paint on the surface.
  • Wait for the base coat to dry, and evaluate your paint application.
  • Take time to practice until you’re satisfied with your work.

4. Clean the Affected Area With a Wax and Grease Remover.


The affected area needs to be clean and debris-free for the touch-up paint to adhere to the surface properly. So, you have to clean the surface using a wax and grease remover and a rag.

An alternative to a wax and grease remover you can use is a cleaning detergent.

5. Smooth Out the Chipped Paint With the Pen’s Abrasive Tip or Sandpaper.


Some touch-up paint pens have an abrasive tip for smoothing out scratched surfaces; it is colored white and capable of removing rust. If your touch-up pen doesn’t have this component, you can use 3000-grit sandpaper as an alternative.

6. Apply a Primer on Exposed Metal or Plastic if There Are Any.

Primer application to car scratches on exposed metal or plastic is a must because it makes for better adherence when you apply paint. However, make sure there isn’t a “no primer needed” indication on the pen. Other tips to follow are:

  • Avoid using enamel primer.
  • Allow a primer coat to dry for 5 to 10 minutes before applying another.

7. Prevent Messes With an Automotive-Grade Painter’s Tape.

It would be necessary to use automotive-grade painter’s tape to prevent messes when the paint drips. Stick the adhesive to areas you’re not fixing.

8. Apply the Touch-up Paint Starting From the Top.

Use the touch-up paint pen as you practice.

  • Dab the paint on the affected area starting from the top. So when the paint drips, it will fall onto the other scratched parts.
  • Dab the paint thinly in small amounts for each coat. You need to make your application even with the car paintwork, and removing excess paint if you overdo it will be hard.
  • Let each coat dry for 20 minutes or as stated in the product instructions before applying another layer. Spread a rubbing compound on the paint touch-up to achieve an even, smooth painted surface.

Using a blow dryer can help make the drying quicker.

9. Let the Paint Dry.


Once you’re done with the paint application, let the paint completely dry before applying the clear coat. Usually, the drying time is 20 minutes or overnight.

10. Conceal the Paint With a Clear Coat.

Clear coat application will make the paint touch-up long-lasting, add a glossier finish, and provide protection from the elements.

  • The clear coat has to be applied lightly, floated over the touched-up paint. Excessive pressure may abrade the paint layer, so be gentle.
  • You can use around two to three thin layers of the clear coat. But you must let each coat dry for around 10 to 20 minutes before putting on another one.

11. Reapply Rubbing Compound for Further Refinement.


You need to apply a rubbing compound on the surface to smooth out touch up paint on car and make the finish glossy.

Wait three days before doing this, and move a microfiber cloth in circulation motions to give the surface a good buff.

12. Apply Wax After 30 days.

Don’t wax the surface immediately after the paint touch-up, as the paint needs a while to cure, and waxing would interfere with the curing. After 30 days is the safest time to wax it.


How to use a touch up paint pen is straightforward, though it requires caution and patience. You have to use the appropriate touch-up paint pen, follow the steps carefully, and not rush the coating, rubbing compound, and wax applications.

Do the process right, and you’ll get an even, smooth, glossy result. Your car’s flawless elegance will return in no time.

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