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Two days ago I bought a used 2005 Pontiac Vibe with 72,000 miles from a dealership. It is not certified. I thought I had done a great job checking it out, but when I got home I noticed two problems. 1. Someone tried to break into the car on the passenger side and there are small dents (not a biggie), but some paint missing. Also, on the hood, there are approximately 20 very small places where the paint is missing. I don’t want (or need) to paint the whole car but don’t want it to rust. I need to have it for 5 years. I don’t want to put hundreds into fixing these small problems, but don’t want them to turn into bigger ones. Any suggestions?

Touch-up paint. Many auto parts stores have touch-up paint that can be matched to the factory color code of your car. They are also available in spray and brush-on.

Thanks!! Where would I find the factor color code information? Would it be in the manual?

Check the paint book at the auto parts place, or have them look it up. It is usually a part of the VIN code for the car.

If you intend to do the touch up half way decently, there is some prep work you need to do. 1. Wash the car. 2. Use a de-waxer. 3. Throughly sand, with wet-or-dry 600 grit sandpaper, using water. 4. Sand that with 800 grit sandpaper and water. Wipe dry with clean, lint-free wipe. 5. Get cheap paint to practice on a junk piece of flat metal. 6. When you have mastered that, paint the hood in thin coats. With some skill and luck, you’ll end up with an acceptable job.

I used to live in the Sacramento area and have never had any problems with dings and chips in paint starting to rust - even on a 20 year old car that was exposed to the elements for years. Touching up after cleaning the spot thoroughly beforehand as outlined in the paint’s instructions will protect it in the future. If you are concerned about the cosmetic aspect of your touch-ups you can go to great lenghths with the measures that the poster above suggested but I am too lazy and pragmatic for that.

Thanks. I found it in the gove compartment :slight_smile:

The spots on the hood are very, very small. I’m sure I can touch those up with a toothpick, so not sure I need to go through everything you mentioned. But the other dings I may need to be a little more diligent. Thanks for your post.

Unless you have some experience at this sort of thing, I would recommend against sanding (particularly dry sanding) with something as agressive as 600 grit. Sounds like the spots on the hood are so small that your suggestion of a toothpick is the correct approach. Place a drop or two of paint on each chip so that it forms a small dome of paint over each chip. Let the paint cure for at least a few days, then return with 2000 grit wet sandpaper and lightly go over the dome until you have levelled it smooth with the surrounding area. Using a finish polish (ideally on a random orbital buffer) polish out the dullness caused by the wet sanding step. Don’t worry, the gloss will return. Once all of the scratches from the sanding are gone, wax the hood to give it a protective coating.

If the dings on the other panels are larger and require spray painting, scuff up the damaged area with 1200-1500 grit wet sandpaper, mask off the area around the damage, and spray. Be aware, however, that if your vehicle has metalic paint, you will not be able to duplicate that with a rattle can of touch-up paint. The alternative, if the dings are not already rusty, is to simply live with it by keeping a good coat of wax on the car at all times to retard rusting during the next five years that you plan to own the car.

Before doing any of this, be sure to wash the car throughly with something like Dawn dishwashing detergent to remove oils and silicone contamination from the finish. Dry the car. Right before you begin with the touch-up paint, wipe the damaged area to be treated with a 50:50 dilution of isopropyl or denatured alcohol using a clean cloth. Otherwise, the touch-up paint won’t adhere properly. Good luck.

I’m Pick’in Up Good Vibe-brations …
Take This Vibe For A Ride And Visit A Couple Of Auto Body Shops in your area. They should be able to have a professional step out and take a quick look and give you some professional advice. Often they will advise you just to touch it up and may give some good pointers. They should also be able to tell you what to expect a ways into the future. Most quality shops will do this for you free of charge. They win future customers in this way.