Car paint pens - can you ever get a good result?
As with any kind of repair, if the damage is significant, the only way that you’ll get a “good-as-new” result is by employing the services of a professional for a car scratch repair. However, car paint pens are seen more frequently on the market and if you’ve only got a very light scratch on your paintwork you might be tempted to give them a go. Here we explain what these car paint pens are, how they work and the kinds of results you might expect.
There are a few different brands which have brought out “magic pens” in recent years, including T-Cut. Their claim is that they can match any colour of paintwork to hide the scratches, with a tiny price tag. Is this too good to be true?
Well, in most cases, the answer is yes, it is too good to be true. Of course, no-one could expect that a pen could act like an eraser to completely remove the scratch. Most cars have a layer of clear lacquer applied over the top of the paint and it is this which magic pens aim to repair. If there is any deeper scratch in the paintwork, this clear “band aid” over the top won’t make a difference. One review on Amazon for a magic car paint pen described the appearance as being like “nail varnish” over the top of a scratch.
That being said, if you literally only have some tiny, surface marks to repair, this repair technique will help to disguise them. As with any repair, you’ll want to clean and dry the area being treated and then simply draw the pen over the mark – the nib is almost identical to a felt tip. However, the damage will still be visible from close up.
Alternatively, if you have a deeper chip or scratch and want a temporary fix to prevent rusting – perhaps if its winter and you won’t be able to arrange the repair immediately – you could use this product to seal and protect the damage.
“Proper” car paint pens
There are a couple of different options when it comes to car paint pens with actual paint in them, rather than lacquer:
- Cheap, off the shelf pens, which come in simple colours like red, black, white, etc.
- Custom made paint pens, which use your car’s colour code to try to get more of an exact match
At ChipsAway, we really wouldn’t recommend using an off the shelf pen, simply because it is so easy to end up with results that look like a bit of a bodge job. If you are taking the care to attempt to restore your car’s looks, you don’t want to end up with it looking like someone took a Tip-Ex pen to it!
However, if you want to press ahead with a pen that uses your colour code, the steps to follow are similar to those in our recent post, How to touch up car paint. We recommend that you try repairing a smaller area of the damage from start to finish for some practice and confidence. Then:
- Clean the area and remove any wax or polish, then apply a primer.
- Be sure not to pump the pen to get the paint flowing on the car – use another hard surface and wipe excess paint from the nib before applying!
- Once the primer is applied and dry, apply the coloured base coat gently and carefully
- Allow this to dry, and then apply a clear top coat to seal it in. Be careful as the top coat can easily remove the base
- Make sure you carry out the repair in a garage, or at least on a still day, to avoid a dusty finish!
- Once it’s all dry you can polish and wax as normal
Is it a good result?
In our opinion, a practised hand can get a just-passable result with a car paint pen, but nothing compares to a professional re-spray and ChipsAway repair specialists can help you get this without the hassle and cost of a dealer garage or body shop. However, if you’re in a bind, feel confident working with a small scratch and have the time and patience, the route to take is a properly colour matched paint pen, with primer and topcoat. Be aware that it is incredibly easy to end up with a bigger mess than you started with and if the look of your car is important to you it’s best to call the professionals.
Have you recently scratched your car?
Make an enquiry for a free, no-obligation car paint repair (or one of our other repair services) during the month of November to be entered into a prize draw to win a Winter Car Care Kit to see you safely through to the warmer months.
How to Touch Up Car Paint
13 November 2014
How to Use T-Cut and When Not to
Using Supagard Paint Sealant