How Repair Shops Match Paint Color After a Collision

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While damage can vary significantly depending on the severity of the car accident, you can almost always count on a collision to scratch or chip your vehicle’s paint job. From fender benders to more serious wrecks, one of the primary tasks of any collision repair technician is to restore your vehicle’s paint color and vibrancy to its original state. If you’re lucky, an experienced repair shop can even make your car look brand new.

But how do these professionals get an exact color match on your vehicle with so many car manufacturers and so many variants of primary colors like white or black? Some cars even have custom paint jobs, making the task that much harder. Also, older vehicles may have paint colors that have been discontinued or hard to find making a simple touch up job extremely involved. Fortunately, some advancements in garages and techniques have made it possible to match even the most obscure paint color, restoring your vehicle to its beautiful and unharmed state.

Finding the Paint Color

The modern garage and collision repair shop are much more advanced and reliant on technology than many people realize. By using computers, repair specialists can find your vehicle’s color and complete other repairs with more precision and accuracy than ever before. To find your exact paint color, painters first locate the paint code from the damaged vehicle. This is found on the tag in the door jamb, trunk, glove box, or under the hood. From there, the painter enters the code into a paint system software where the computer determines the exact color chips as well as variants depending on the paint supplier or even shading from one batch to another.

Matching Colors and Shades

Next, the painter will compare the colors and variants with your vehicle to determine which one to use. It’s a common misconception that car paint fades. In actuality, the color is simply covered with airborne contaminants that give the finish a dull or faded look. To remedy this, painters will rub an area of the vehicle with an abrasive paste and then polish it to see the car’s exact color. After exposing the original, untouched color, technicians can get even more specific by using a spectrophotometer to measure the amount of light and color details. This information combined with the vehicle’s VIN finds the exact paint formula (color and variant) used on the car when it rolled off the assembly line.

Mixing and Testing

After having the color in hand, the color is mixed and sprayed on a test-card to hold up next to the vehicle and ensure as close of a match as possible. The final step depends entirely on the skill and experience of the body shop and even the specific painter. With so many variables to match the color perfectly, the best painters can take the color that works best and blend it into the surrounding color for a seamless finish that hopefully looks better than it did the day you bought the car.

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