Dents and dings happen the more a vehicle gets used, which is why it’s common knowledge to park sports cars in the very back of every parking lot. When body damage is bad enough, the paint can chip, and that becomes a whole other headache. When you take your car to the shop for body damage, it’s supposed to come back looking almost brand new—no more dents, no more dings, and a fresh coat of paint. How do body shops match the car paint? It turns out there are several methods to do the job right.
Information on Your Car
The owner’s manual should include the color code for your vehicle, but if you’ve lost the original manual, don’t despair. Manufacturers list the vehicle’s color codes at various points on the vehicle as well. Depending on the make and model, you can find it in different locations. Popular places can be on the door frame, near the door jam, on the driver and passenger side. Sometimes it is placed in the spare wheel well or the lid of the trunk. If you still can’t find it in any of those places, try looking for the code in the right-hand sun visor, under the driver’s seat, or on the radiator.
Variations within the Batch of Paint
Just because you know the color code doesn’t mean that you are going to have perfectly matching paint. There are often variations of the color within certain batches or the vehicle manufacturers will still list similar colors under the same number, so the shading will be off. Different paint suppliers will have the same color codes, but with slightly different tints. To complicate things further, the vehicle manufacturer will use all of these different hues in their production line. If you want to get the car paint to match just right, the auto shop will have to apply a few more techniques.
Determining the Batch Variation
Technology has come a long way, and you better believe it is being applied within auto body repair shops. The best way to determine a vehicle’s variation in paint is to buffer a small area on the vehicle to remove any dirt, dust, and other airborne particles. A slightly abrasive paste is applied to truly reveal the color of the paint, and a color sensing camera then scans the patch. The camera is connected to a computer that can analyze the picture, and try to narrow down the batch of paint that was used on the vehicle. Once the computer suggests a color variant, the paint is mixed and sprayed on a test-card. The body shop will then compare this sample with the vehicle to confirm it is a good match.
The Final Step
Even after finding the correct batch of paint and matching the variant with the original coat, the colors will likely not match very well. The problem is that the environment has a huge influence on the color of the paint, and things like temperature, humidity, and elevation can change the way the color looks at the end of the application. Instead of trying to control these environmental factors, the painter will use a technique called blending to ensure the colors perfectly match. This last step is actually quite challenging, and you will want to trust the services of an experienced professional. Otherwise, you run the risk of having oddly colored paint remind you of the dents and dings you just had repaired.