I have a couple of small paint chips (the size of a nail head or smaller) on the hood of my 2004 Element. What is the best way to repair those primarily to protect the car from further damage?
Check for touch up paint in a small bottle with a nail polish type brush, probably available from the dealer.
From my personal experience, and from watching the dealer pros do the repairs, NEVER USE THE BRUSH IN THE PAINT CHIP REPAIR BOTTLE!
See, it’s too “bristley” and too big, normally.
Many repair guys will actually use a toothpick, either as is, or clipped off, to apply the paint needed. The “old timers” used a paper match stick. I’d say a very tiny pointed brush from a model/hobby store would be sest. Don’t forget to shake it excessively - especially with metallic colors.
Use what Waterboy suggested.
Keep the bottle in the car and do your touch ups immediately upon discovering the chip. You want that metal protected ASAP.