The Colour Matching Process

Our colour matching background, and information on the process.



At Car Colour Services we have access to over 130,000 car colour formulations dating back to the 1950s. 

Colour Matching is the most important part of our service and the one we have a great reputation for. It is a time consuming process and takes a lot of experience and a trained eye to distinguish the very subtle variations in a colour. To order a colour to be matched please click here.


We have colour formulations for most manufacturers reaching back to the 1950s, unfortunately these old vehicles have either been previously painted or the colour has faded away from the original shade. In these circumstances we have to produce a unique formula, either by us or a manufacturer’s lab.
Our colour matchers have years of experience and have come across every known problem, as you will see from the information below, it is not just as simple as matching to a pattern as it involves other factors.  At CCS we don’t just colour match vehicle panels, we match any object such as pieces of furniture (wood or leather), shop fronts, machinery, toy models, gym equipment, valuable antiques and we even had to match a toilet seat! (Make sure it’s clean before sending!).
New technologies such as the X-Rite MA-5 Spectrophotometer allow CCS to further extend our capabilities in colour matching. This spectrophotometer lets us find closer matches in our database, speeding up and reducing the cost of the process.



Why the need to colour match? Why not order from the paint code? Variations.


During manufacturing


Virtually every car colour on the road has variations, for example Ford Moondust an extremely popular colour has at least 5 variants. These slight differences of shade make it essential that the right variant is identified before spraying the vehicle.

One of the main reasons these colours vary is that most car manufacturers source their paint from several paint suppliers, this paint should match to the car manufacturers standard but invariably it drifts in shade, close enough for all the cars to look the same in a car park but not close enough for one shade of refinish paint to suffice.

You will also notice that bumpers are invariably a different colour to the main body of the car, one of the causes of this is the bumpers and other plastic parts are painted separately from the shell, this is due to the shell of the car having to be baked at a high temperature that would destroy any plastic on the vehicle. The paint supplied to the plastic painters can differ to the paint used on the shell due to it being a different type of product. 


 Plastic             Bumper2  Bumper Colour


After manufacturing

Over many years cars will also have ‘weathered’ due to exposure to uv rays , lack of cleaning and being exposed in general to our harsh road environment, therefore the colour code will only give us a starting point and then we will have to tint to get a better match. Even compounding the car will restore to a point the original colour. Therefore it is best to do this before sending us a pattern.
Another reason for a variation from the original colour is if the car has been painted before due to an accident, you may not notice at first but one side of your car could be slightly different to another side. Therefore it is important when supplying patterns to us that you provide something that is in the same location as where you are painting, if we receive a petrol flap and match the colour to this but you are painting the other side of the car (which could be a different shade) then the colour we provide will not match that side of the car!
Also be aware of metamerics. Colours such as Reds, Oranges and Yellows appear one shade indoors and then a completely different shade outside due to different light sources. Therefore tell us if the colour will be viewed under a lighting other than outside, for example if the car will be viewed indoors at a show. 

Making sure you obtain the correct colour.



Things you must do:

 Before sending:

  • Provide a sample that will be in the same location as you are painting, we match to the sample and if this doesn’t match to the area you are painting, the colour will not match.
  • When sending via courier, insure the delivery, and put it in protective packaging.
  • Provide us with as much information you can:
    • Manufacturer
    • Model
    • Year
    • General Colour
    • Code
    • Quantity
    • Paint type required

 After receiving the paint:

  • Stir the paint thoroughly, we stir and shake the paint but over time it will seperate, heavier pigments will sink to the bottom. Therefore if you do not stir the paint you will not get the right colour.
  • Although we don’t let the paint leave until it has matched the pattern, still check the colour to where you are painting. You don’t want to spend time and effort painting the car to find it does not match, then having to redo all that effort again.
  • Keep the paint room temperature, paints will go thick in cold conditions and will effect the application, Aerosols especially are no good when cold.

During painting there are several essential points you must follow to obtain the correct colour.


The Recommended Gun set up

Using a different air cap and fluid tip size as recommended by the paint manufacturer can cause the colour to vary from their formula. Refer to the technical data sheet of the product you are using.

The correct Thinner

Using a cheap reclaimed solvent as a thinner can cause discolouration to certain colours, always use the recommended thinner.

Setting the correct pressure at the spray gun

This is very important as too high or low a pressure can cause the colour to go darker or lighter.

Correct application technique

Spraying to near or too far away from the panel can cause the colour to vary, make sure you maintain a consistent distance on all the panels you are spraying.

Sending us a Pattern via Courier

You can order paint from the paint code but as explained above this will not guarantee a colour match.

1)If you wish to send us a pattern which needs matching to, then tick the colour match box when ordering the paint.

2)Arrange a courier to collect your pattern and deliver to us using ipost parcels, click here to book collection. 

3)Make sure its protected and insured.

4)We will contact you when we receive the pattern and let you know when you will receive it back with the colour. 

5)Once completed, we will arrange collection and send your products and pattern.


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