Stone chips are a common feature in car paintwork, usually on the bonnet. They normally create deep, very localised damage in the paint.
They are caused by little rocks, gravel and road debris flicked backwards from the tyres of cars and vehicles in front of you, and they are more common on motorways. Unfortunately, at high speeds the little stones can turn into miniature comets, leaving a deep ding in your paintwork.
Stone chips are more common in winter as salt-spreaders throw grit over the roads. And the damage can be quickly exacerbated by winter weather, as water and ice gets into the chip and affects the metal underneath.
Stone chips are difficult to avoid, but the good news is that they can be fixed. The trick is to repair the damage as soon as you can and not leave it to worsen in the rain.
Here are our top tips to fix car paint stone chips, plus how to protect your car in the future.
When not to try a DIY repair
Upon finding a stone chip, many people decide to touch up the paint themselves. This can achieve fairly good results for small, shallow damage, but there are times when your car should go straight to a professional.
- When stone chip has exposed the base metal
- When the car damage has rust spots
- When you have multiple chips or very large chips
Rust is a big problem for chip repairs as the paint cannot adhere to rusty metal. And if you don’t clear up the rust first, it will continue to spread through the metal underneath the paint, resulting in a costly repair or panel replacement further down the line.
How to fix stone paint chips on your car
A good DIY stone chip repair takes time, a close paint match and a steady hand. Here are our step-by-step instructions:
- Clean the area with soap and water and the rub down with alcohol or white spirit. This step is vital to remove grease and give the paint a good surface to adhere to. Allow the area to dry
- Sand down any raised edges around the paint chip. You can use a cutting compound like T-Cut for this, or very fine grain wet and dry sandpaper. Take care not to damage the surrounding clearcoat – don’t rub too hard
- Apply the primer or base coat. Use a very fine brush or paint pen if your kit comes with one. Allow to dry
- Apply the paint in thin layers. Several layers is the way your car paint is originally applied, so you need to mimic this. Allow the paint to dry thoroughly in between layers. Make sure to keep the paint within the damage area and not spread onto surrounding areas
- Once the paint is dry, sand gently to make it same level as the surrounding paint. You need very fine grain wet sandpaper and a steady hand. For small chip areas, wrap the sandpaper around the blunt end of a pencil to ensure you don’t scratch the surrounding paint
- Apply a top coat or lacquer to seal the stone chip repair and allow to dry
Protecting your car from stone chips
There is no way to avoid ever getting a stone chip in your paintwork. But you can use a paint protection film like clear vinyl wrapping to offer another level of protection. It’s a good choice if you have custom paintwork you want to protect.
Read our post on how and why to use vinyl wrapping for more information.
Stone chip repair cost
The cost of repair kits to fix stone chips depends on the type of kit you use. Prices start from around £10 and go up to £50. Don’t be tempted to just go straight for the cheapest kit – they come in a very limited range of paint colours that might leave a noticeable repair. Some companies might offer paint to match your car’s specific colour code – here’s how to find out your car’s colour.
A full panel respray is much more expensive, running to a few hundred pounds.
But a good professional car body repair specialist should offer you SMART repair (Small to Medium Area Repair Technology) for a stone chip. This more modern type of repair involves just repainting the damaged area, making it cheaper and faster to do.
Plus professionals will use colour-matching technology to mix the right paint tone to match your car. If your car has a good paint finish, always consider a professional repair over a DIY kit.
Thinking of getting your stone chip repaired? Get a free, no-obligation quote for from our ChipsAway specialists. They offer a mobile car body repair service and can come to you at home or at work. Fill in the quote form at the top of the page to find out more.