Reviews | The Drive

Best Automotive Touch-Up Paint: Make Your Exterior Shine

With these easy-to-use touch-up paint products, you’ll keep your car looking like it just rolled off the lot.

With decades of combined experience covering the latest news, reviewing the greatest gear, and advising you on your next car purchase, The Drive is the leading authority on all things automotive.

youtubefacebookinstagram

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

BYHeather Fishel/ LAST UPDATED ON May 20, 2022

Scratches, scuffs, and marred paint are just facts of life when you own a car. After a few months on the road, imperfections are going to happen, but you don’t have to live with them. Keep a pen or bottle of automotive touch-up paint in your garage, and you’ll be ready to make those marks disappear. Easy to apply and perfect for covering up all kinds of flaws in your exterior paint, a well-matched shade of touch-up paint can keep your car looking like new, even when a rogue shopping car or flung-open door leaves a mark. And you don’t have to head to the dealership to get your hands on quality touch-up paint that works for your paint job and your specific needs. With a variety of options and a number of different formats, there’s a convenient, easy-to-use automotive touch-up solution for every vehicle.

Best Overall

TouchUpDirect Exact Match Preferred Package

Summary
One of the best touch-up paint kits on the market, this one will deliver great results at a fraction of the cost of professional painting.
Pros
  • Color match guarantee
  • Environmentally safe
  • Comes with built-in brushes for easy application
  • Complete kit for doing a great touch up job
Cons
  • Price point — costs a bit more than other touch-up paints on the market
Best Value

Dupli-Color Universal White Perfect Match Aerosol Paint

Summary
Comes in a variety of basic colors, including the standard white we reviewed. Quick and easy to use.
Pros
  • EZ-touch nozzle gives you a 360-degree spray pattern for smooth and even coats
  • Large touch-ups made easy
  • Close to perfect color match
Cons
  • Aerosols have a tendency to get everywhere, making them harder to direct
  • Universal formulation means that the color match probably won’t be 100 percent perfect
Honorable Mention

Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover

Summary
For shallow scratches, this scratch remover will do the trick without having to purchase a touch-up paint that might not match.
Pros
  • Easy-to-use formulation
  • Buffing pad included in the package
  • Restores the shine and luster of your car’s paint
  • Removes small scratches with professional-grade chemicals
Cons
  • If your car is plagued with deep scratches, this product won’t do
Best Automotive Touch-Up Paint: Make Your Exterior Shine

Summary List

Best for Large Damage: Touch-Up Express Paint

Best for Dings and Chips: Mopar OEM Touch-Up Paint

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Our Methodology

I chose the best automotive touch-up paints listed below by taking a look at the different options available online. These included everything from brush-on touch-up products to spot treatments in pen-style applicators, all available in an array of common vehicle colors. I compared them to each other, looking at key details like the shades of paint colors and their ability to match different automakers’ paints, ease of application, and the ability of the paint to last through washes and wear. Those that offered the best color matching and longevity were my top picks, along with those that user reviews mentioned as being easy to apply and able to correct or cover up varying types of scratches and marring.  

Best Automotive Touch-Up Paint Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Brand: TouchUpDirect
  • Size: 0.35 ounces
  • Applicator Style: Brush

Pros

  • Built-in easy-to-use brushes
  • Includes primer, paint, and clear coat
  • Waterborne, eco-friendly formula
  • Guaranteed color matching

Cons

  • Expensive

First things first, this product comes in a wide variety of colors and styles to suit your vehicle, so make sure you pick the right color when purchasing. The Preferred Package from TouchUpDirect is one of the company’s best-selling kits for touching up your car’s paint. It includes everything you need to do a professional-quality job without breaking the bank: primer, paint, and clear coat, as well as grease wipes and gloves to help with the application.

The kits are made to be intuitive, with built-in brushes in each of the jars to make the application of the product as simple as possible. It’s made for normal, everyday wear-and-tear kind of scratches, as well as dings and scuffs that aren’t too deep. The formulation itself is safe, waterborne, and environmentally friendly, which is an awesome benefit if you’re regularly using chemical products for your car. The color match is guaranteed, leaving you with the ultimate peace of mind when it comes to touching up your car.

A definite drawback is the price point. Although clocking in at almost double of other touch-up options, this kit is still much cheaper than getting a professional paint touch-up done and can deliver almost the same results. If you’re looking for a quality product to touch-up your car’s paintwork, this is the perfect pick for you.

Specs

  • Brand: Dupli-Color
  • Size: 8 ounces
  • Applicator Style: Spray nozzle

Pros

  • 360-degree adjustable EZ Touch nozzle
  • Available in a variety of shades and finishes
  • Sprays smooth coats of paint
  • Quick-drying

Cons

  • Universal color isn’t a perfect match
  • Color difference can be noticeable if used in large areas

As a universal paint, this one does well to match a number of (slightly) different shades of white. This easy paint is an acrylic lacquer aerosol paint, making it quick to dry. The formulation is unique in that it blends easily with the existing color, matching it almost perfectly. An adjustable EZ Touch nozzle gives you 360 degrees to work in and a wide spray pattern that delivers smooth, even coats.

This product is great for larger touch-ups and color matching vehicle accessories. You also get a lot of bang for your buck, as the large can provides lots of product pay out, giving you plenty to work with. For best results, you should use this paint as step two of your application process, over the top of a good automotive paint primer and before a final, UV-protecting clear coat.

Keep in mind that this particular paint is made for white cars. However, Dupli-Color makes the exact same product in a variety of shades and finishes to match your car. The downside of this almost universal color is that the match is usually not 100 percent perfect, something you likely won’t notice on small scratches but might when you’re painting a larger area. Still, it’s a great value product that works like a charm in most cases.

Specs

  • Brand: Carfidant
  • Size: 250 ml
  • Applicator Style: Sponge

Pros

  • Easy application process
  • Universal for all paint colors
  • Finish provides shine
  • Free of dyes and fragrances

Cons

  • Not for deeper scratches

When the scratch is shallow and small, a scratch and swirl remover will do the trick to restore your paint job to its original quality. That’s why we’ve included Carfidant’s excellent product as our honorable mention. It’s absolutely universal, since there is no color that needs to be matched, and super easy to use, delivering great results in a short amount of time. An included buffer pad makes applying the specially formulated product a simple task, “erasing” the scratch in the process.

Another great benefit of this product is that it can restore the gloss and shine of your overall paintwork. Application to non-damaged areas will result in the removal of water spots, oxidation, dirt, and other contaminants, making your car shine like new. The company also prides itself in the safety and quality of the formulation, since only professional grade chemicals are used and unnecessary color dyes and scents are left out. That also makes this product safe for all paint types and colors.

The only downside we noticed is that this product won’t work well with deeper paint scratches. These likely need to be filled and painted over, and since this product cuts away color rather than depositing it, it only works for shallow scratches. That being said, if your car only has minor scratches, this should work well for you.

Specs

  • Brand: ERA Paints
  • Size: 0.25 ounces
  • Applicator Style: Brush

Pros

  • Colors mixed for specific makes and models
  • Works on scratches, dings, and chips
  • Includes application accessories
  • Durable

Cons

  • Doesn’t include clear coat
  • Applicator is difficult to work with

This paint comes in a small jar with 0.25 ounces of paint. It comes with two applicators, a blue shop towel, and a paint test match card. Each order is custom-mixed to ensure a perfect formulation. This touch-up kit is designed to hide minor scratches, dings, and rock chips. This paint listing is for a 2012 to 2016 Tesla Model S in PBSB Eclipse Black, but there are many options available for a variety of vehicles.

The customer service from ERA is outstanding. The company goes out of its way to help consumers find their proper paint codes. It also gives detailed directions and tips to help you achieve the best results possible. Its paint is high-quality, durable, and a near-perfect match to your vehicle.

The downside to this touch-up paint is that you need more than just the paint. You also need to use a clear coat over the touch-up paint to achieve an OEM level of sheen and protection. In addition, the applicator can be challenging to use, so practice a bit before you use it on your vehicle.

Specs

  • Brand: Touch-Up Express
  • Size: 1 pint
  • Applicator Style: Sprayer

Pros

  • Provides plenty of paint for significant repainting
  • Exact OEM color matching
  • Clear coat optional
  • Proper application provides professional results

Cons

  • Provides so much paint, it can go bad before it’s used up
  • Need to use a sprayer for application

When you order this paint, you’ll get a one-pint can of a single-stage paint color in your chosen formulation. The color will be an exact OEM color match to your vehicle’s paint. The paint in this listing is Sandalwood Metallic and specifically designed for the Chevrolet Tahoe. You need to buy a color that matches your vehicle’s specific paint code. You can apply a clear coat over this paint after it’s applied and dry, but it isn’t required.

To increase the durability and performance of your touch-up paint, order the optional urethane hardener. This helps this paint perform better than other touch-up paints on the market. This paint is high-quality, and with careful application can enable you to achieve professional-level results.

It may sound counter intuitive, but the size of this paint can is a disadvantage. It’s way too much paint if you’re masking small dings and scratches. The paint will eventually go bad, or you’ll get rid of your car long before you ever use it all. This size of can is meant for more extensive painting, such as painting a body panel or the entire car. You’ll also need special equipment to apply this paint, so you’ll need to buy a sprayer.

Specs

  • Brand: Mopar
  • Size: 0.5 ounces
  • Applicator Style: Brush

Pros

  • Suits multiple make and model colors
  • Built-in applicator
  • Great for hard-to-reach spots
  • A little paint goes a long way

Cons

  • Applicator can be messy
  • Requires careful precision to apply

This Mopar touch-up paint comes in a self-contained bottle. The paint is color-matched according to the code assigned by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Inside the bottle is 0.5 ounces of paint. The top of the bottle has a small applicator brush. This particular paint is code PX8 or basic solid black (non-metallic), which is commonly found on Jeep, Dodge, Ram, and Chrysler vehicles.

You can use this bottle to touch-up small door dings and rock chips. The applicator and bottle combo makes it fast and easy to apply the paint exactly where you need it. The bottle design also makes this a great option for painting smaller parts of your car, such as your antenna mount or license plate light mounts.

The biggest drawback to this style of touch-up paint is the applicator. If you aren’t extremely careful, the paint will get everywhere. Your touch-up can quickly look like a mess. The small applicator is not fine enough for many smaller touch-up tasks. You also need to buy a separate clear coat if you want your touch-up job to be protected and blend perfectly.

Specs

  • Brand: Motorcraft
  • Size: 0.25 ounces
  • Applicator Style: Pen

Pros

  • Easy to work with
  • Includes clear coat
  • Colors made specific vehicle color codes
  • Applicator tip is slightly abrasive

Cons

  • Applicator sizing isn’t suited for micro touch-ups
  • Pen can be sloppy in application

When you buy Motorcraft’s paint pen, you get several applicators in one compact pen. There’s a pen, brush, and foam applicator. The pen contains OEM-matched paint for touch-up tasks. There’s also a clear coat reservoir to apply over the paint. This particular pen comes loaded with Magnetic Grey J7, which matches the 2015 to 2017 Ford Mustang. You need to match your car’s paint code to the pen you buy for a perfect match.

Having everything you need in one convenient pen means you don’t have to buy and store multiple tools and paint bottles. Grab the pen and you’re good to go. The tip of the lid has an abrasive tip to remove old paint flakes and clean up your car’s surface before you paint. The addition of a clear coat with the color-coded paint ensures you have a touch-up job that is protected and produces a sheen.

Unfortunately, these all-in-one pens never work as well in practical applications. The applicators are a generic size and not fine enough for detailed and micro touch-ups. This can produce a sloppy and overreaching application that becomes more noticeable than the actual ding or scratch.

Specs

  • Brand: Brite Touch
  • Size: 10 ounces
  • Applicator Style: Spray nozzle

Pros

  • Formulated for vehicles and other uses
  • Resists dripping and running
  • Fast-drying
  • High-gloss finish when dry

Cons

  • Versatility can make a less-than-ideal formula
  • Limited color choices

This general-purpose paint can be used both indoors and outdoors. It performs well on metal, wood, and most plastic surfaces. The paint is formulated to resist drips and runs. Each can contains 10 ounces of paint, and there’s a choice of six colors: gloss blue, gloss red, clear, aluminum, flat white, and gloss almond.

This paint is readily available, easy to use, and fast-drying. It’s a great general-purpose paint for all types of DIY projects around the house. When it dries, it’s high gloss, which produces a beautiful finish.

A word of warning about this paint: While it’s a general-purpose product, do you really want to use the same paint on your car as you use in the house? It may be a better idea to stick with a paint that’s formulated specifically for use on cars. If you do decide to use this paint, you’ll have limited colors to choose from, so it won’t match your car’s current color exactly.

Specs

  • Brand: Dupli-Color
  • Size: 0.25 ounces
  • Applicator Style: Pen and brush

Pros

  • Easy to wield and apply
  • Exact-color paint match
  • Includes clear coat
  • Abrasive prep tip removes rust

Cons

  • Application takes precision and care

Dupli-Color Scratch Fix All-in-1 Automotive Touch-Up Paint is a handy, versatile tool to keep on hand for scratches, nicks, and chips that happen on your vehicle’s exterior paint. It looks and works almost like a paint marker, making it easy to carefully cover and restore color on any small-sized exterior flaws. You can use this small touch-up paint tool for all different kinds of paint touch-up repairs, and it’ll provide exact-match color paint as well as clear coat.

This product features an abrasive prep tip that’ll remove loose paint and rust, a pen tip to touch-up small, fine scratches, and a brush end to cover larger chips. It uses a unique One Coat Prime and Paint Formula, and you can apply both the paint and the sealing clear coat to achieve a factory-like finish. Handheld and compact, you can use this automotive touch-up paint anywhere, any time.

Our Verdict

When it comes to the best automotive touch-up paint, TouchUpDirect Exact Match Preferred Package is one of the top options you can buy. You’ll get flawless results at a significantly lower price than taking your car to a pro, and you can get some seriously impressive color matching. If you’re looking for something that’s simple, straightforward, and budget-friendly, Dupli-Color Universal White Perfect Match Aerosol Paint can provide excellent value for your money.

Things to Consider Before Buying Automotive Touch-Up Paint

Choosing touch-up paint for your car’s exterior isn’t exactly as simple as picking out the closest color. Before you try to fix up those unsightly scratches or chips, make sure to think about these key considerations so you know you’re using a quality paint product. 

Types of Automotive Touch-Up Paint

Aerosol Paint

One of the most common formulations out there, aerosol paints are easy to use but offer messy application results than other varieties. If you choose to use an aerosol, keep in mind that the spraying distance matters—the further away you hold the can, the more dispersed the color will be. Overall, these work pretty well, but other applicators are more user-friendly.

Touch-Up Pens

The most common type of automotive touch-up paint out there, touch-up pens often come standard with a new vehicle purchase. Most car manufacturers also make them in the exact colors of their vehicles, giving you a perfect match fairly easily. The downside here is that they work best for really small chips or scratches—anything too deep won’t be filled by the rather thin formulation.

Paint Brush Touch-Up Kits

A couple of different varieties of the paint brush automotive paint exist on the market. Some have a finer, felt-like tip, while others mimic a brush with fibers. Both can work well, depending on the overall quality of the product. Just keep in mind that these tend to apply thickly, which can make matching the rest of your paintwork a little difficult.

Key Features

Color Match

When looking for the perfect car touch-up paint for your vehicle, it’s important to make sure the final outcome will match well with the factory paint. A number of different companies make universal color matches for black, white, and silver cars that work well, but your best bet is to buy a genuine or manufacturer-approved product to find the perfect color match. 

Paint Type

As always, the applicator and the application matters. Paints that come in aerosol form are difficult to handle and tend to get a little bit all over the place, whereas touch-up paint pens and paint brushes focus the product more directly where you need it. We recommend one of the latter two to make the whole process as painless and streamlined as possible.

Application Process

A number of touch-up paints come in kits with multiple steps. This is a good sign for a quality product and will leave you with the best results. Usually, these kits contain a primer, a paint, and a clear coat to seal the deal. The finished product will look much more seamless than a one-step paint pen could ever deliver.

Automotive Touch-Up Paint Pricing 

For less than $15, you’ll find a number of easy-to-use universal options. The quality does vary, though, so watch out for murky formulations and over-promising color matches. Spend $15 to $30 and you’ll see a wide variety of kits, aerosols, and pens available. Many of them do a decent job, but the more quality ones will have a multi-step process that includes a primer and clear coat to seal in your work. And for $30 or more, you’ll shop the best paint kits out there, complete with masking tape and more. The quality of the paint and applicators tends to be better overall.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Where can I find matching touch-up paint for my car?

A: There are plenty of products that might match your exterior paint color. To ensure you’re shopping for a perfect match, you’ll want to ID your car’s color code. You can find that on your vehicle’s identification plate.

Q: How can I match my car paint without a color code?

A: If you can’t find the color code for your vehicle, there are other easy ways to figure out the exact shade. You can check your owner’s manual, or search online for your make, model, and model year to see what colors were available (and what their official names might be). If it’s a recent purchase, you can also ask your local dealership.

Q: Can I use spray paint to touch-up my car?

A: Technically, you can. In fact, there are even spray paint products made with the intent to use them as automotive touch-up paint. However, it’s not the most professional-looking way to fix spots of damage, and it’s really not the sleekest solution.

stripe
stripe