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2011 Outback 2.5i Premium, CVT Caramel Bronze Pearl
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2011 2.5i Premium with Caramel Bronze Pearl paint. My car has a scratch on the passenger side back door (so I don't see it everyday). I am trying to build a plan of attack on the whole matter. I have old (like 1970s) experience of body repair / painting when I was a kid (16-17) No pearl / no clear coat just bondo and spray cans. Clear coat / pearl indicates to me multiple steps etc... Is this a professional level fix? Get some of the "wonder" scratch fill I see on late night TV? Or something else?

OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
12,385 Posts
depends on the scratch.
depends on your skillset and time.

easiest option is to find dealership prepping teams/companies/subcontractors that do this. they make weekly rounds to dealers to prep their vehicles and are doing this stuff every single day. If they're honest and willing to help (some are busy and work for demanding dealers/routes/bosses) - they would be one of your best local resources for most practical and economical approaches.

automotive finishes are generally not a great DIY option, the results are inversely proportional to your "pickiness". i say "automotive finishes" because they are very technical and have come a long way from "paint".

prep work and time are your friends. most of a quality paint job happens well before a trigger is pulled.

but it really comes down to you - if you're game for the labor intensive process and learning curve of learning preparing, priming, painting, clear coating, blending, paint matching automotive finishes - and then following through with it - then sure have at it. someone else does it - so you can too.

you can get paint match scratch bottles from the dealer.
you can get single stage paint matched spray cans at many NAPA's and other automotive shops.
you can get double stage clear coat one time use can (punctures internally) - order them online if you cant' find them locally.

or go all out with professional paint gear and equipment.

2013 3.6R Limited
1,193 Posts
The touch-up paint bottles that I order from have always been a perfect match, including for our Graphite Grey Outback. I have used these small bottles with the included tiny brush for decades so I am pretty good at it. The key is to use it sparingly, allow it to dry for 30 minutes or so between coats, and then sparingly re-apply until you have achieved the desired depth and look of the new paint against the old paint. Then let it cure for a couple of weeks and apply some wax on the area to help protect it. If you have never done this before, it is a good idea to practice on a smooth piece of scrap metal to get the hang of it first. Good luck.
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2012 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited, with custom-added always-on auxillary power for an inverter, 3x DC jacks, and a radio transciever.
638 Posts
I've had a couple scratches on my Outback (white pearl) and I think the biggest issue I had was the patience required to get it right. At the time I didn't realize there was a "base coat" and "top coat". Every other metallic car I have seen used a single touch-up bottle (Ford, Mercury, Mazda, Toyota, Hyundai). Probably if I had done a super thin coat of the base white first it would have looked better - my only issue is it looks slightly darker in certain lighting conditions but that makes it just look dirty for mine, I think I'm the only one that knows its a scratch.

Here's what I found that worked for me:
-Make sure it can't get dirty while drying - check the weather for rain, wind, etc. if you can't park inside
-Have good, even lighting. You want lots of good lighting but not a "spot-light" - the whole area of the car should be illuminated about the same. Even better if you can have light from multiple angles to avoid shadows.
-Clean the area very well with rubbing alcohol to remove oil/wax/dirt before painting
-For small rust spots (small scratch or rock chip) I find a toothpick works well to "scrub" the rust without hurting the paint much
-Do it when the temperature is between 68F and 75F, too hot and it dries too fast, too cold and it dries too slow
-Wipe excess paint off the brush into the bottle before trying to put it on the car - you want very little to go on the car and not as a drip. Drips look worse than scratches.
-Put on half as much as you think it should have as thin as you can, in 1 sweeping motion. Wait at least an hour (ideally longer) before you consider adding more.
-Don't try and fill the scratch in with paint, especially not 1 coat of it. Put on less than you think you should.
-If you mess up and put too much on you have maybe 15-30 seconds to wipe it off before you have a bigger problem. This follows with the "use 1 sweeping motion" and "put on less than you think you need" because if you have a drip you can immediately wipe it off but if it starts to dry you'll have a mess
-If it's down to bare metal on a large area you may need to find touch-up primer if the paint isn't wanting to stick
-If your paint is old test it on a piece of cardboard or paper - it should flow very smoothly and easily like a high quality ink pen. If it's more the consistency of hand lotion it might be going bad and will be harder to work with.
-When you get it on your hands, use acetone based nail polish remove to clean your hands.
-After it is totally done being touched up let it dry a few days to a week and remember to apply a high quality polish/wax to protect it along with anywhere else you wiped down with alcohol/solvents to clean in prep for the touch-up

I've also found "hairline scratches" you may be better off leaving alone or using one of the various "scratch fill match wax" things than touch-up paint. Excess touch-up paint looks worse than a small scratch and will be more obvious. For bigger ones a "not quite enough touch-up" fix looks better than excess touch-up paint. Trying to polish down too much touch-up paint is very hard, I've helped friends do that using polish compound and a low speed Dremel buffing pad. It can be done but is much harder to do than touching up in the first place.

#1 thing is patience - doing a good job takes an annoying amount of time.

Do you have any pictures of the scratches you are trying to fix?
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