Colour Match Painting: A Brief Guide for Students in Auto Body Technician Training

auto body technician

Have you ever wondered how vehicles are refinished when their paint gets scratched or chipped? You might assume that the vehicle is simply repainted in a quick and painless process. However, contrary to popular belief, it’s more complicated to identify the true colour of a vehicle’s paint than you might think. For years, auto repair technicians relied on their own two eyes to correctly identify the colour of a vehicle’s paint and perform the necessary repair. This led to plenty of wrongly matched paints, creating odd-looking spots on a vehicle’s surface. 

Today, paint matching is an automated process, in which tools are used to create a colour that’s as close as possible to the original. If you’re entering a career in the auto body repair industry, your ability to match paint to the original colour of a vehicle will enhance your success in achieving a quality final result. Below, discover more about automotive paint, the matching process and how to succeed in your work.

Automotive Paint Explained for Those Pursuing a Career in Auto Body Repair

Vehicles are heavy-duty machines, transporting us far and wide in all kinds of weather and conditions. For that reason, the paint used to coat their surface must be durable as well, sustaining exposure to sun, rain, snow, ice and other kinds of damage. In order to create such a resistant material, resin, pigment and solvent are combined. Resin is what makes automotive paint so long-lasting, while solvent determines its viscosity. 

The amount of each of these materials has an impact on how the paint is applied, as well as the manner of its application. The pigment is added in powder form, composed of a mix of colours and toners to create a certain finish. Once you launch your career in auto body repair, you’ll use your knowledge of automotive paint as a starting point to identify the best paint match for a vehicle. 

career in auto body repair
During your career in auto body repair, you’ll use your knowledge of automotive paint to match paint for vehicles

How Manufacturers Produce Their Paint Colours

Depending on the auto manufacturer, different types of vehicles will have different types of paint. When automakers produce vehicles, they create standard paint formulations for every colour used on their vehicles. Auto body paint suppliers receive these standard paint formulations, from which they create their own formula to match the standard as closely as possible. These formulations all have different codes by which they are identified. However, variations can occur in a few different ways. Often, discrepancies in colour may occur between different batches of paint, as alternate formulas may be created to obtain a relatively similar colour of paint. Additionally, different paint manufacturing plants may produce different kinds of paint, due to variations in temperature, humidity and other environmental factors between plants. 

auto body repair career information
Manufacturers create standards of each type of vehicle paint they produce

Finding a Colour Match During the Auto Body Repair Process

As an auto body technician, you’ll be responsible for choosing the right paint mix and adjusting it as needed to produce the perfect colour for the vehicles you repair. When beginning the colour matching process, you’ll first obtain the colour code for the paint. This can be found in the owner’s manual or the vehicle’s service history. If the colour code can’t be found, it’s likely that you’ll need to search for the vehicle’s make, colour and year to gain an accurate estimate. 

Next, spray a small amount of the chosen paint on a card and once dry, hold the card up next to the vehicle’s surface in the sunlight. If any adjustments are needed, begin with slight variations in the lightness and darkness of the paint until the proper hue is achieved. Once finished, the paint can be applied to the affected area. However, make sure to apply paint to the entire panel where the damage lies in order to ensure consistency. After the paint has dried, the colour matching process is complete!

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