BMW Care Part 2
The ultimate guide on how to find your BMW paint code, a breakdown on fixing chips and scratches, and getting the most out of your touch up paint and scratch remover sticks.
How to Find BMW Paint Code Location
You may be of the belief that there exists a universally accepted spectrum of colors used by car manufacturers. This just isn’t the case. Believe it or not, there are several hundred paint color variations to choose from.
In order to avoid wasting valuable time and money haphazardly purchasing a touch up paint pen or stick, you’ll need to know your car model’s specific paint code. There are a couple ways to find your BMW’s unique hue.
Driver’s Side Door Jam
If you’re driving a newer model BMW (~2015+), you’ll find the paint code printed next to your VIN # sticker in the driver’s door jam. It should be directly to the right of your VIN and includes a single letter followed by two numbers i.e. “B42” or “J29/3”
For everyone else, your paint code will be printed on the engine bay. It’s customarily to the left of the bay located near your strut tower. Again like the later model years, the code is generally a short sequence of a letter followed by numbers.
Use a VIN Decoder Online
If the previous two suggestions are not an option for you, and you know your VIN, punch it into a VIN Decoder. Simply do a Google search for “VIN Decoder” or follow this link we’ve provided to mdecoder.com. There’s no danger in inputting your VIN as all it can reveal is standard information about your BMW.
If all else fails, call your local BMW dealership and ask them to input your VIN into their decoder to find your paint code.
How to Fix BMW Paint Scratch
In this section we will be covering the painting process – breaking it down into three distinct steps. Then, we’ll detail exactly what supplies you need, as well as streamlining you links to the brand we consider the highest quality at the most reasonable price.
If you’re currently reading this guide, you’ve made the decision to take things into your own hands and repair your BMW’s blemishes. We’re thrilled to hear that – you’ve made the absolute right decision.
It’d be nice if we could slap some paint on the affected area and call it a day. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. To know how to take care of your BMW is also being proficient and familiar with how these chemicals act and react to each other.
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, it is absolutely essential that you choose high-quality paint from a reputable source. Depending on the size of the scratch or chip, there’s a couple different applications of touch up paint on the market. We’ve laid out a fully comprehensive list of items further down.
Understanding Primer, Basecoat, and Clearcoat
As you can see from the diagram above, your BMW’s paint job consists of three distinct layers. The primer, basecoat, and clearcoat all play an important role as BMW scratch paint.
Primer, the base undercoat no one sees, is used mainly to create a smooth surface and provide a powerful adhesion for the subsequent layers. A quality primer will dry relatively quickly and is essential to BMW car paint protection.
This one’s pretty self explanatory. The crux of it, however, is knowing your paint code when you purchase your basecoat. It’s essential that you choose a brand of paint that blends well and dries efficiently.
If you don’t know your paint code, go back and read the first section in BMW Scratch Paint repair.
If the primer lays the groundwork and acts as the “frame” of our metaphorical car, then the clearcoat is the bulletproof glass that acts as the first line of defense and provides that glossy finish deepening your base color hue. A clearcoat that does its job correctly will enable you to easily fix a BMW paint scratch in the future.
BMW Paint Care
You may feel overwhelmed at this point – Don’t worry. We took care of all the painstaking research and have assembled everything together in one accessible location.
Like we pointed out above, your BMW scratch paint arsenal will consist of primer, basecoat, and clearcoat. These three layers of paint come in different forms depending on your need:
- Brush in Bottle – The most common, and used for small to medium blemishes.
- Paint Pens – For the smaller jobs, they’re widely used among enthusiasts.
- Aerosol Spray Paint Cans – For painting entire panels of your BMW and other large projects.
In addition, you’ll want to purchase some car wash soap (NOT dish soap) and 320 grit sandpaper. There’s a complete list of required items for how to fix a BMW paint scratch at the end of this section.
BMW Scratch Paint
Note: AutomotiveTouchup.com is currently the premier website for BMW scratch paint, and as a result BMW Repair Guide has partnered with them for this project. We cannot recommend this company enough – they are simply phenomenal. As a result they are featured in this list and we will discuss why we chose them over the less reputable, independent “Ebay” and “amazon” type sellers.
Brush in Bottle
We’re going to begin each product section with viable alternatives to remain transparent and provide our readers with as much variety as possible. The “brush in bottle” style tends to be the most intuitive and popular among BMW scratch paint enthusiasts.
Most alternatives will be found on Amazon.com and tend to be sketchy at times. We recommend exercising caution when considering these particular brands that lack credibility or a reputable website outside of Amazon.
Further in-depth and diligent research should be taken when weighing each option on Amazon. A full examination of their profile, including customer questions and reviews, will give you a general idea whether or not they’re ideal.
The market for BMW scratch paint on Amazon can seem quite volatile, because for the most part it is.
If you do decide to proceed with Amazon, make sure the seller stocks your individual paint code and you test the color on a flat surface to compare before applying it to your BMW (You should do this with any paint you purchase). BMW scratch paint can be finnicky and you want to make sure it’s a 100% match.
**Pro-tip: Always purchase homogenous brands for all of your paint. In other words, stick to the same brand for each your primer, basecoat, and clearcoat.
BMW Repair Guide has a recently partnered with Automotivetouchup.com in an effort to inject some quality and clarity into an otherwise saturated marketplace of suspect brands. Not to say that every independent seller is untrustworthy; there are just too many questionable ones.
So for us, the logic behind this new partnership was simple – we wanted to construct a guide for readers that delivers the créme de la créme of BMW scratch paint.
Automotivetouchup Primer is specially formulated to apply evenly, dry quickly, and sand easily. Their exclusive formula is designed to work with your basecoat color without reacting to it negatively like other primers can.
Each touch up basecoat bottle is custom matched to your exact factory color code and is manufactured on a per order basis. Almost all modern and many older cars are available in a basecoat/clearcoat formula, so clearcoat is required for a proper shine and paint match. They mix the highest paint quality for maximum BMW scratch paint care.
The basecoat color restores the factory color but it is the clear coat that gives it a glossy appearance. Automotivetouchup’s Clear Coat gives your repair the shine you want and the UV protection you need to fix a BMW paint scratch flawlessly.
Touch Up Pens & Sticks
Again, if we’re being honest Automotivetouchup trounces the “paint pen/stick” competition in all phases – and it’s not even close. We encourage you to do your own research too!
For transparency sake and to accommodate our readers with solid alternatives, we’ve once more conveniently provided some comparable substitutes.
We performed a search in Amazon for “BMW touch up paint” and “BMW touch up paint pen“. Notice how there are very few listings with favorable reviews or any that are even close to providing an extensive array of colors.
Not much changes even after taking out “BMW” and doing a general search for “Touch Up Paint” in the automotive section. As you can see there’s certainly options, but there isn’t sufficient enough data via ratings and reviews to make an educated assessment.
At the other end of the spectrum, Automotivetouchup provides a touch up paint pen for virtually every BMW paint color in primer, basecoat, and clearcoat. The prices are significantly more feasible at each level, and their reviews page tells you all you need to know about their reputation.
(The same goes for their “brush in bottles” and aerosols.)
Provides a smooth, even surface to apply the Basecoat Color over.
Bonds to any bare metal or body filler in the repair.
Fills in any minor scratches from sanding.
Just like their brush in bottle basecoat, each touch up paint pen has been custom matched to your exact factory color code and is manufactured on a per order basis.
BMW Paint pens are clean and easy to use.
Matched colors require clearcoat.
Unique applicator tip puts paint exactly where it’s needed.
Helps your repair blend into existing paint.
Protects the basecoat color and provides luster and a glossy finish.
As simply as using a standard marking pen to fix a BMW paint scratch.
Aerosol Spray Cans
For the purposes of this guide, we’re not going to go too in depth with aerosols. They are great when you’re undertaking larger BMW scratch paint jobs. Like for example, they’re perfect if you need to repaint your entire spoiler.
They’re also quite a bit pricier, but we’ve included a couple of options to the list just in case.
Provides a smooth, even surface to apply the Basecoat Color over for long-lasting BMW scratch paint protection.
Bonds to any bare metal or body filler in the repair.
Fills in any minor scratches from sanding.
Custom Manufactured to match your original factory color code.
12 oz aerosol cans are easy to apply.
Custom matched colors have an excellent color match.
Specially formulated to work with AutomotiveTouchup paints.
Enables the touch up to match the existing paint exactly.
Mild Car Wash
1600 Grit Sandpaper
BMW Car Wax (Optional)
How to Apply BMW Scratch Paint
We almost didn’t include this section because it’s pretty straightforward. But to be as transparent and concise as possible here’s a 5 step template to model after.
Step 1: Clean and Prep
People tend to over-complicate the process and worry about the distinction between a scratch and a chip. It really doesn’t matter what it is – if it’s deep enough just from feeling it with your finger, you’ll need touch up paint.
Wash the scratch/chip thoroughly with warm water and mild car wash soap. Take a micro-fiber cloth and lightly scrub any debris or grease that might still be caught in it.
Use the fine grit sandpaper to smooth out the edges of the scratch or chip. Be careful not to sand outside of the chip. The surrounding paint needs to be level with the borders of the blemish so that the BMW scratch paint blends correctly.
You can use a clay-bar if you like to further smooth out the surface of the scratch or chip.
Step 2: Apply Primer
Remember, the primer is what sets a chain reaction for everything that follows. If you place a solid coat of primer on the paint chip the rest will essentially “fall into place”. Using either the brush in bottle or pen, apply a thin layer and let it sit until dry.
Step 3: Apply BMW Scratch Paint
If you’re using a BMW touch up paint pen start at the center most point. Push down gently and spread a small amount of paint across the chip until there’s a solid layer of paint. If you’re using the brush in bottle take your brush a dab the blemish softly until you get the same result.
Be careful not to over fill it. You’ll have to do a little bit of trial and error here as the paint will dry differently. You may need to come back and refill some spots.
Step 4: Apply Clear Coat
We recommend applying clear coat no matter what the size of the scratch or chip is. Once the basecoat has dried apply a small amount just like the previous step and let it dry. You don’t have to be as meticulous with the clear coat as it will disappear when it dries.
Step 5: Wash
Once everything is dry and you’ve got your paint looking the way you want it, it’s time to rewash your BMW to complete the process! This may take a couple days so get the chip/scratch looking exactly the way you want it before the final wash and wax. Stacking a wax on top of that will pull out that nice sleek shine that further absolves the problem area.
How to Fix BMW Paint Scratch – Finish
Congratulations! You’ve completed our BMW scratch paint guide and are now fully equipped to handle any minor scratch or chip that comes your way. This is the tried and true process that takes some practice. However once you’ve mastered this, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a big-time BMW enthusiast!
We truly appreciate all the support we receive from the BRG community, and are currently in the construction phase of our new website, bmwoem.parts. It will be a completely optimized and revitalized part’s lookup system that all BMW owners can benefit from.