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Is there a colour matching app for car paint?

Finding an exact color match for your car’s paint can be a frustrating process. With so many automotive paint options available, it can seem almost impossible to locate the precise shade needed for that perfect repair or touch-up job. Thankfully, new technology is making matching car paint colors easier than ever before.

The Challenge of Matching Car Paint

There are a few key reasons why obtaining an accurate automotive paint match tends to be so difficult:

  • Car manufacturers use complex paint formulas – Most automotive paint is made up of three or more pigmented layers to achieve a certain color and finish. Replicating these complex formulas is challenging.
  • Color perception varies – The way we each perceive color differs slightly, making visual color matching unreliable.
  • Colors fade over time – A car’s original factory paint inevitably changes tone slightly as it ages, meaning the original sample may no longer be an accurate match.
  • Environment affects color – The lighting conditions and background environment in which a color is viewed will affect how we see it.

With so many variables at play, it’s easy to see why obtaining the perfect automotive color match can often feel impossible without the right tools.

Paint Matching Technology

Thankfully, advanced paint matching instruments have been developed to take the guesswork out of identifying precise automotive paint colors. Here are some of the technologies paint shops now use:


Spectrophotometers are devices that use reflected light to capture highly accurate digital readings of a paint color. By taking precise measurements across the visible light spectrum, a spectrophotometer can definitively identify the exact pigment formulation required to reproduce any automotive paint color.

Color Matching Cameras

Specialty color matching cameras are now available that can instantly scan and match the paint on any vehicle. These cameras digitally compare the color against a database of paint formulations to identify the closest match. This technology removes the need for manual sampling and makes the color matching process fast and efficient.

Touch-Up Paint Pens

Many auto manufacturers now offer touch-up paint pens matched directly to the factory colors used on their vehicles. While not a perfect match for large repairs, these paint pens allow for quick and easy paint chip and scratch fixing using precisely color-matched paint.

Smartphone Color Matching Apps

Along with dedicated paint matching instruments, new smartphone apps are also making it easier for anyone to accurately match automotive paint colors:

ColorSnap Visualizer

The ColorSnap Visualizer app by Sherwin-Williams allows you to use your smartphone camera to scan any object and instantly identify paint colors that match. After scanning your car, the app displays the closest paint options from Sherwin-Williams’ extensive catalog.

ColorSmart by Axalta

ColorSmart is an app developed by leading automotive coatings supplier Axalta Coating Systems. After uploading a photo of your car, their algorithm will analyze the paint color and provide Axalta’s formula match along with where to purchase it.

Chroma by Sunnyside

Chroma is another photo-based color matching app, this one powered by paint brand Sunnyside. Capture multiple images of your car from various angles and lighting conditions for the most accurate match. The app then suggests the closest paint formula available from Sunnyside.

Benefits of Paint Matching Apps

Using a color matching app on your smartphone makes obtaining an accurate automotive paint match far more accessible. Here are some of the benefits they offer:

  • Convenience – No need to physically visit a paint shop or dealer to get your color matched.
  • Speed – Results are delivered instantly rather than waiting days for a manual match.
  • Accuracy – Advanced color scanning technology matches precisely to the vehicle make/model.
  • Affordability – Apps are free or low cost compared to professional paint matching services.
  • Simplicity – No special skills or equipment needed – just a smartphone camera.

Limitations of Color Matching Apps

While paint matching apps provide many advantages, there are some limitations to be aware of:

  • Lighting conditions – Photographing the car in overcast or inconsistent lighting may affect result accuracy.
  • Camera quality – Lower resolution smartphone cameras can constrain the precision of color sampling.
  • Restricted paint brands – Apps may only reference their own company’s paint lines rather than providing universal matches.
  • Touch-ups only – The camera-based matches may not be ideal for full paint jobs which require a more rigorous formulation process.

Professional Automotive Paint Matching

For more extensive collision repairs or complete resprays, professional automotive paint matching is still the most reliable option. Dedicated paint matching systems used by body shops combine spectrophotometer color reading with large databases of paint formulas from all major automotive manufacturers. This allows trained technicians to match OEM factory paint with absolute precision. The technician can also make adjustments to achieve an optimal match if the original paint has faded or discolored over time. While less convenient than a mobile app, professional paint matching remains the gold standard for flawless car color replication in major paint jobs.


Matching automotive paint colors has always been a tricky, labor-intensive process. The latest color matching apps provide an easy and accessible option for basic touch-up tasks using just your smartphone. However, for more extensive paint jobs that demand factory-perfect results, having an experienced auto paint shop perform professional color matching is still the best approach. Ultimately, choosing between DIY apps versus professional matching comes down to the scale of the job and the level of accuracy required.

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