TNX Realm Noobie
2011 Night Armor Xterra Pro-4X
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Sioux Falls, SD
I've done a variety of paint repairs to my 2011. Some have worked better than others, and none of the repairs are invisible.
1. On my rear bumper that was developing rust spots, I removed the plastic trim but left the bumper on because I couldn't free the rusty mounting bolts. I used a drill with a wire brush to remove all the paint and rust that I could, then used POR-15 Metal Prep and brushed on POR-15 paint followed by multiple coats of silver automotive spray paint color matched to the OEM silver paint by a local automotive paint supplier. I didn't apply clear coat. This repair still looks good after about three years in a salty winter environment and I'm very happy with it, but it wouldn't work as well on glossy paint or a small taped off area - better suited for a bumper.
2. On a deep scratch with no rust, I used Dr Colorchip with no sanding or paint prep beforehand. This worked OK, but you can see the repair. This is much easier to apply on a horizontal surface than a vertical one. The nice thing about Dr Colorchip is that you can keep wiping it off if you don't like the result and try again (as long as you do it within a few minutes).
3. On a very minor crumple to the front fender, I hand sanded a small area where the paint had cracked to bare metal and taped off the area. Then I sprayed primer from an auto parts store and used a brush to apply touch-up paint. This was a very crude repair that was only intended to stop rust from developing, but it has held up well for about a year. You can see the brush strokes and the line from the tape, but this could have looked better if I had used color matched spray paint as the top coat and had tried to buff out the line from the tape.
I think a combination of the above techniques might work OK for you. You could start by sanding very carefully with a Dremel or pointed tool to remove the rust without damaging the surrounding paint. Then tape off the smallest area possible and apply a rest preventative primer. Then apply Dr. Colorchip or a touch-up paint top coat and perhaps a clear coat. When you remove the tape there will be a visible paint line, but you may be able to buff it with detailing products to be less noticeable. Be careful not to use anything too abrasive because you don't want to damage the surrounding factory paint.
Even the professionals can't paint a small area without leaving visible tape lines, which is why they paint entire panels or apply tape at the edge of trim pieces. When I first started making paint repairs I wasn't very happy with the results, but as the car has gotten older and I care less about the appearance my goal is mainly to prevent rust. If you're a perfectionist, you should probably just take it to a decent body shop - not one that advertises cheap spray jobs on TV.