Listen to this article

Advertiser Disclosure

 

While most automakers sell car paint pens for their vehicles, they aren’t always the best car paint pens for the job. We tested several car scratch fillers – including the manufacturer’s brand – on a white 2018 Ford Fusion Hybrid.

In this review, we’ll recommend five of our favorite paint pens based on our testing experience. We’ll also explain how car paint pens work and how to find the best one for your vehicle.

 

In this article:


5 Best Car Paint Pens

best car paint pens

A car paint pen helps remove minor scratches, dings, nicks, and chips. You can purchase some paint pens as part of a system that includes a buffing rag and degreasing solution. Other auto paint pens include a single applicator with the desired paint color.

Based on customer reviews and our testing process, we believe Dupli-Color, Dr. ColorChip, Ford manufacturer’s pen, PaintScratch, and TouchUpDirect offer some of the best car paint pens.

Keep in mind that we tested these pens on one vehicle – a 2018 Ford Fusion with a white pearl tri-coat paint job. While these paint pens did a reasonable job matching our vehicle’s exterior, some brands may be better for specific colors and manufacturers. Test any paint pen and compare it with your own vehicle’s paint before applying it.


Our Review Standards

The car paint pens in this review went through two rounds of reviews. We searched Amazon for top products, looking at customer ratings and prices. We also sifted through Reddit to find the brands car enthusiasts prefer.

Next, we began testing on the Fusion. This car has a three-stage color finish featuring a base coat, a pearl coat, and a tinted clear coat. An excellent car paint pen will match your vehicle’s finish as closely as possible.

We rated the paint pens based on ease of use, available colors, and how well they matched our vehicle (efficacy). This guide can help you find the right pen for your vehicle, but you’ll need to test options for yourself to learn which best matches your car’s paint coat.


#1 Best Car Paint Pen: Dupli-Color

duplicolor pens

Check Price >

 

The Dupli-Color Scratch Fix All-In-1 has just about everything you need to refurbish a scratch. This compact pen includes an abrasive tip, a one-coat prime-and-paint formula, and a clear-coat applicator. It’s easy to use and is sold in a broad range of colors for most makes and models.

Overall 4.5 out of 5
Ease of Application 4 out of 5
Available Colors 4.5 out of 5
Efficacy 5 out of 5
 

Key Features

  • Size: 0.25 fluid ounces
  • Cost: $24
  • Abrasive tip
  • Prime-and-paint formula
  • Clear-coat applicator
  • Pen-tip and brush-tip applicators

Our Experience

We found the Dupli-Color simple to use. You’ll need to buy a degreaser or cleaning formula separately to prepare the scratch area, but beyond that, this handy pen has everything you need.

The paint takes a little while to dry, but the Dupli-Color delivered the best results among the paint pens we tested and came the closest to reproducing the factory paint color.

What Customers Are Saying

Dupli-Color paint pens have an average Amazon rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars, with more than 15,700 ratings. Eighty-one percent of reviews give the product 4 or more stars.

Numerous reviewers say the color matches well. They also noted that the application is a bit thick, so you may need to sand. We found the application to be thick as well, though it thinned out after a few days.

“Didn’t like it [at first]. A couple weeks later, I noticed the clear coat and color blended up, and the thickness was reduced significantly. … I changed this from a 1–2 star [review] to a 4–5 star."
– HDA via Amazon
“Sparkle silver seems to match Subaru Ice Silver exactly, but your mileage may vary. … Sanding, sanding, and sanding again is the difference between someone asking what kind of nail polish you used to touch up your car, or someone not noticing that you did a touch-up."
– Nelson via Amazon

While most commenters say the paint matches almost perfectly, the Dupli-Color brand may not get all colors right. Some reviewers had trouble with white colors (though they almost perfectly matched our test car’s pearl white paint).

“Oxford white [has] gotta be one of the most popular [Ford colors] being used for fleet vehicles. But this white isn't even close. It's a creamy off-white. Generic white off the shelf would be closer."
– Vin via Amazon
“After following all instructions (including prep, paint, and varnish), the paint dried with a very dull, almost ‘weathered’ yellow color instead of white."
– Daniel via Amazon

It’s essential to test the color of the paint pen on a small, less noticeable area of your vehicle to ensure the color matches before applying it somewhere prominent.


#2 Easiest To Use: Dr. ColorChip

dr. colorchip pens

Check Price >

 

The Dr. ColorChip Automotive Touch-Up Paint System includes everything you need to restore automotive paint. While not a single paint pen, it performs the same function and does it well. This product is terrific for beginners since the included blending solution leaves more room for errors.

Overall 4.3 out of 5
Ease of Application 5 out of 5
Available Colors 4 out of 5
Efficacy 4 out of 5
 

Key Features

  • Size: 4 fluid ounces
  • Cost: $55
  • Includes paint, blending solution, three paint brushes, a glove, a towel, and a blending cloth

Our Experience

We found the Dr. ColorChip paint repair system to be the easiest to use of all the car paint pens we tested. However, our vehicle has a three-stage paint job, and the Dr. ColorChip system is a one-stage system that does not perfectly replicate the color on our Ford Fusion Hybrid. Nevertheless, the Dr. ColorChip kit came close to being a perfect match and even outperformed some of the three-stage paint pens we tested.

Our favorite feature of the Dr. ColorChip paint kit is the blending solution, which helped even out the paint and was simple to use.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon reviews for Dr. ColorChip are divided among paint colors. As such, no overall assessment of Dr. ColorChip is available. Since there are hundreds of colors – all listed as separate products – determining an average is difficult.

Some Dr. ColorChip users speak both positively and negatively about the product. As with any car paint pen, your results will depend on the color of the paint on your car. If you have a three-stage point coat like our test vehicle, be aware that no Dr. ColorChip paint will provide an exact match.

“It sorta worked. At least it covered up some of the scratch. As soon as you tried to clean off the excess paint, it would all come off again. Took at least eight tries before I just gave up."
– Jeffrey Asis via Amazon
“Don't expect perfection. This filled the chip in the paint and made it less noticeable, but it is far from a perfect fix. It was easy to use."
– Lynn E. via Amazon
“Stuff works very well! Just follow the directions."
– Hug A Vet via Amazon

#3 Manufacturer’s Pen (Ford)

manufacturer’s pen ford

Check Price >

 

Several auto manufacturers offer their own brands of paint pens for car scratch repair. The quality of these OEM pens will vary from one manufacturer to another, so this review can only speak for the Ford Motorcraft brand.

Overall 4 out of 5
Ease of Application 3 out of 5
Available Colors 5 out of 5
Efficacy 4 out of 5
 

Key Features

  • Size: 0.25 fluid ounces
  • Cost: $17
  • Includes an abrasive head, a touch-up coat, and a clear-coat finish
  • Available in all manufacturers’ colors

Our Experience

We didn’t find the Ford Motorcraft paint pen very easy to apply. Because it doesn’t include a brush, the paint is difficult to spread evenly. You may want to purchase a separate brush for application so it doesn’t glob in thick layers through the pen tip.

Despite the globbing, the color is a strong match, which makes sense given the brand comes through the automaker. The Ford Motorcraft pen did not match like the DupliColor but was the second-closest of the pens we tested. The paint takes about 30 minutes to dry, which is average.

What Customers Are Saying

As with Dr. ColorChip, Amazon reviews of the Ford Motorcraft paint pen vary considerably and largely depend on the color of the paint. We did found numerous reviews for the color we tested. The Ford Motorcraft has an average Amazon review score of 4.3 stars based on over 340 ratings, with 78 percent of users giving the product 4 or more stars.

Comments about the paint’s matching abilities are somewhat mixed. Many users believe the final product is nearly perfect, while others are less enthusiastic. Results may vary depending on how well you apply the product.

“It worked great for me. Any pearlized paint is hard to duplicate. … The secret to matching your pearl white paint for this particular pen is the second step top coat; it contains the pearl part of the paint. For me, it took three coats of the (topcoat) pearl over top of the base white allowing each coat to dry at least 30 minutes between coats."
– Gpz2 via Amazon
“This all-in-one-package could not have been easier once you figure out which end does what! It's a Ford part, so it's obviously a perfect match for color."
– Jonathan Baker via Amazon
“Doesn’t quite match the platinum tri-coat white paint. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I don’t know what better options to use instead."
– Miguel G. via Amazon
“Not bad, but not as good as the pros would do. However, the job was tiny."
– Jerry Norene via Amazon

#4 PaintScratch

paintscratch pens

Check Price >

 

PaintScratch car paint pens include a pen for each coat (base layer, paint layer, gloss layer), and the system includes cutting cream that helps prepare scratches for touch-up paint. Kits come in a wide variety of colors for most makes and models.

Overall 3.7 out of 5
Ease of Application 3.5 out of 5
Available Colors 4 out of 5
Efficacy 3.5 out of 5
 

Key Features

  • Size: 0.5 fluid ounces
  • Cost: $53
  • Includes three pens (base layer, paint layer, gloss layer)
  • Includes cutting cream

Our Experience

As with the Ford Motorcraft paint pen, PaintScratch paint pens don’t include any brush heads, potentially making it challenging to spread the paint evenly. While the procedure is straightforward, you may want a brush to apply the color over a scratch.

The PaintScratch is an actual three-stage paint pen (others in this review are two- or one-stage pens) and matched our vehicle’s paint reasonably well despite not being on par with DupliColor. We also like that the PaintScratch came with a degreaser (cutting cream), which you need before applying any paint pen.

It takes quite a bit of time to apply the PaintScratch pen, as you’ll need to wait a while between each layer and the coats have longer drying times.

What Customers Are Saying

Similar to the reviews of other paint pens, PaintScratch reviews on Amazon are divided among different paint colors and aren’t consolidated in a single listing. Therefore, it’s challenging to determine an average score since you’ll find hundreds of PaintScratch colors.

Reviews indicate that PaintScratch paints tend to match quite well for most customers. Some customer complaints mention the paint not drying well in humid climates and the paint pen tip being challenging to use.

“The color matched like advertised. [The] only problem is that I live in Florida, and the humidity made it so the paint couldn’t dry properly."
– Nick via Amazon
“Too messy."
– David Martinez via Amazon
Paint match to vehicle is spot-on. Tip on paint pen is unusual and after a few uses is falling apart."
– Brandon via Amazon

#5 TouchUpDirect

touchupdirect pens

Check Price >

 

TouchUpDirect offers multistage car paint pens designed to match your vehicle’s paint job as closely as possible. Kits from TouchUpDirect include a test card to guarantee you have the pen that matches your vehicle.

Overall 3.5 out of 5
Ease of Application 4 out of 5
Available Colors 3.5 out of 5
Efficacy 3 out of 5
 

Key Features

  • Size: 0.35 fluid ounces
  • Cost: $56
  • Includes three pens (primer, base layer, clear coat)
  • Comes with degreaser to prep paint area

Our Experience

While the TouchUpDirect paint system was easy to use and apply, it did not match our car’s paint job very well. However, some customers say the TouchUpDirect did match their vehicles, so our issue may have been with our particular color.

The paint applies relatively smoothly and more easily than other paint pens that match our color better. Had the color of the TouchUpDirect paint system matched, we would have put this product higher on our list. Again, results may vary by color, and you should test any car paint pen on a small area before applying it broadly across your vehicle.

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon reviews for TouchUpDirect paint pens are divided across the available paint colors and not focused on a single product. Just over 100 reviews (4.2 average score) are available for the color we tested, but TouchUpDirect reviews are generally positive.

Many reviewers say TouchUpDirect pens were an excellent match for their car paint, which is why we recommend this product despite the poor match for our vehicle. Other users had experiences like ours, where the match was not particularly close.

“Arrived very quickly. Matched paint perfectly. I’m glad I purchased it, as it was a perfect match."
– Amy D. via Amazon
“Color did not match at all."
– Tracy A Hughes via Amazon

Best Car Paint Pens Testing Process

car paint pens testing process

Using the 2018 Ford Fusion, our team tested each car paint pen in this review. As mentioned, the Fusion has a three-stage color finish and white, tri-coat pearl paint. Some paint pens are single-stage formulas, which will never match three-stage paint perfectly. We used each car paint pen according to the directions on the package and applied these pens to the vehicle’s rear fender, where some of the paint was chipped.

We took notes on both the process and the results, scoring each car paint pen based on its ease of use and how well it matched the surrounding paint job.

After applying the paint pens and letting the affected areas dry, we washed the vehicle several times to see how well the paint stayed in place. We also monitored the area to see that the color held up for over a month.


Car Paint Pen Buyer’s Guide

The first step to finding the right car paint pen is determining the color you will need. Most vehicles have a paint color code – an alphanumeric string of characters that refers to the paint’s exact tone and shade. This code’s location will depend on your vehicle’s make and model. Typical places to find this code are:

  • Inside the glove box
  • In the wheel well
  • In the driver’s-side doorjamb
  • Under the driver’s seat
  • On the passenger’s sun visor

Once you’ve determined your color code, you can begin searching for the correct car paint pen. Bear in mind that some vehicles have multistage paint, which means you’ll need a multistage paint pen to achieve the exact color of your factory paint. You might consider a primer as well as a clear coat. Some paint pens, including a few we recommend, have a built-in primer, base coat, and clear coat.

Before applying any car paint pen, clean the area thoroughly with a grease remover. We also recommend sanding the area to prepare it for paint. You’ll then apply primer, body color, and clear coat in that order.

We suggest purchasing a lacquer thinner to help wipe mistakes away. Dr. ColorChip includes a lacquer thinner with its products.


FAQ: Best Car Paint Pens

Do paint pens work on cars?

Paint pens work on cars in small areas. If you get the right car paint pen, it can match your vehicle exactly. To get your paint pen to work correctly, you’ll need to prepare the area carefully and apply paint only to places where old paint has chipped.

Are car paint touch-up pens good?

If you find the right match, paint touch-up pens are suitable for minor scratches. You should take your vehicle to a professional for more significant abrasions and damage.

Do scratch pens really work?

Universal scratch pens that “erase” scratches on all paint colors can mildly improve the appearance of minor blemishes but will not restore your paint to look new. Car paint pens that paint over scratches and match the color of your vehicle can eliminate minor nicks and blemishes.

How long does a car paint pen last?

Touch-up paint pens don’t last quite as long as your car’s factory paint job. However, the best car paint pens should last around five years.

How do I get rid of deep scratches on my car?

You can take your vehicle to a body shop to fix deep scratches on your car, but this is costly. A car paint pen can work as a DIY scratch remover if the scratch doesn’t cover too big of an area and you take time to apply the paint pen properly. Fixing a deep car paint scratch with a paint pen involves sanding the scratch, applying a primer, applying paint, sanding the area smooth, applying the clear coat, and buffing the result. A lot of sanding with fine-grit sandpaper may be necessary to achieve a high-quality fix.