Remove Touch Up Paint That Has Dried on the Car Door

Those who purchase used cars often want to clean and detail them. The paint of a used car may have nicks and chips from years of being driven. The previous owners may have tried to fix these flaws with touch-up paint, and those amateur attempts at improving the vehicle's appearance can be less than perfect. Dried touch up paint can be mismatched, uneven and unattractive. Common areas where touch-up paint is likely to have been applied can be on a car door hood, fender and bumper. Learning how to remove touch-up paint that has dried on the car door and other parts is an important step to making the most of your used car's appearance.


  1. If there is touch-up paint on the car door, hood, fender and other areas, try to determine if it is the same color and thickness.
  2. Evaluate the dried touch up paint to see how bad it is, and how much of an area is covered by it.
  3. Scrape the car touch-up paint gently with your fingernail to see if you can remove some or most of it.
  4. Wash the area of the vehicle with the dried touch-up paint with a mild soap such as dish detergent.
  5. Dry the area thoroughly with a soft cloth or towel.
  6. Apply a prep solvent that you can purchase from your local automotive supply shop to the dried car touch up paint to help soften it.
    • Try mineral spirits if you can not find a prep solvent and wipe the solvent or mineral spirits off the car.
  7. Apply masking or car painting tape to the area around the dried touch-up paint to avoid accidentally removing extra paint.
  8. Rub the dried touch-up paint gently with 180-grit sandpaper.
  9. Brush away any paint dust or chips with a dry soft cloth or towel.
  10. Rub the area with 320-grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges.
    • The area is now ready for you to apply fresh touch-up paint.
  11. Remove the tape and brush away any paint dust.



  • Always make sure the area with the dried car touch-up paint is clean before working on it.
  • Make sure that you have both 180- and 320-grit sandpaper to remove the dried paint. The 180-grit paper will remove dried globs of paint, and 320-grit will smooth out the area after the dried paint is removed.
  • Remember that the lower the grit number, the more coarse the sandpaper. Sandpaper that is too coarse can damage you car.


  • When scraping touch-up paint on the car door and other areas with your fingernail, do not scrape it too hard. If you do, you might scrape off some of the car's original paint and make the blemish worse.
  • If you can not remove the dried touch-up paint from your car, do not keep trying or you can damage the finish. Consider taking your car to a professional auto detailer or painter to do the job.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish detergent
  • Soft rag or towel
  • Masking or car painting tape
  • Prep solvent or mineral spirits
  • 180- and 320-grit sandpaper

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