Understanding Your Car’s Paint Job

If you have a scratch or Nick on your car it may have caused you to wonder about the different types of paint we use to color our cars. Depending on the damage your car has sustained you could get away with grabbing some Mazda touch up paint or some other kind of automotive touch up kit, or you may have to go see a professional. They say knowledge is power, so read on to get the knowledge you need about what’s going on with your cars paint job.

What Your Paint Job Does

the reason it’s so difficult to touch up your Honda Civic paint job is that your car requires special paint. In the first place, car paint has to be able to bond with metal, which is something house paint or paint for wood doesn’t have to do. If the paint does not bond properly to the metal on your car it will be able to protect that metal. Additionally, the paint has to have a highly glossy surface. By nature, glossy paints are more susceptible to nicks and bumps, which is probably why you used a matte paint in your living room to protect it from your kids!

While we demand a very glossy finish to our cars, we also expose our cars to all kinds of things that could damage it, from hail to road salt to rocks.

Know Your Layers

There are five different layers to your cars paint job.


The undercoat, or prep finish, is usually grey or black and makes the surface of your car ready for other paint. It helps the car bond with the paint better and keep moisture away from the metal. In order for this layer to adhere, it’s important to sand down the car first. If a scratch has gone all the way down to this layer, you won’t be able to fix it with that Mazda touch up paint kit.

Base Coat

This is the first layer of paint in the actual color the car will finally be. This is not glossy and will not protect the car on its own. It’s pretty common to use two coats of this paint.


This is the first layer of protection over the base coat, though a lot of modern cars no longer need it. If you have an older car, or are interested in getting your car to the highest possible level of shine, an acrylic lacquer works wonders. The reason a lot of modern manufacturers have abandoned it for everyday use, though, is because it doesn’t offer the best protection.

Clear Coat

The clear coat has no color, but it does have special chemicals that make it adhere to flexible parts of the car, like the bumpers. Modern clear coats protect the paint job from scratches and also contain UV inhibitors to keep the sun from wrecking your paint. They also add shine or gloss.

Speciality Paint

If you have a chameleon look or a metallic finish, you probably have a specialty paint. These are expensive and can’t be fixed with your typical touch paint kits.

Fixing The Scratch

If you’ve gotten a minor scratch, you can try to fix it yourself. Certain buffing compounds are capable of “healing” minor scratches. If that doesn’t work, a car touch up paint kit might. You can get generic ones or branded ones like Mazda touch up paint.

The generic kits will work well for cars that care in neutral colors. The industry defines “neutral” as the four most common car colors: black, white, silver, or grey. If your car is a different color, it’s a good idea to get a Mazda touch up paint kit or Jeep touch up paint kit: whatever kind matches your particular vehicle.

Serious Damage

If bad scratches go too long, water may damage the paint or even the metal underneath, seriously degrading your car’s resale value. It’s not a good idea to let any scratch go too long, and especially deep ones. If you can’t fix it yourself, it’s definitely a good idea to have a professional look at it.

Your car’s paint job is complicated, and one of the best things you can do to protect it is to keep those scratches fixed.

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