Auto Paint Repair

Car Paint Prep Tips and Techniques


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Car paint prep is very important if you are looking to apply new paint to a car. There are several steps involved to prep a car. You can completely prep and paint your car yourself. This step of the paint process is critical and the majority of the work needed for the job is in the car paint preparation. You can do all of the prep work yourself and then have the car painted by a professional if you want to save money but don't want to paint it yourself.

  • Wash and Remove Trim: Completely wash the car and get rid of any dirt and debris on it. Remove any exterior trim or any emblems. Take off the antennas and car handles. There will be some trim that cannot be removed, and you will need to tape over it with masking tape or newspaper.
  • Fix Scratches and Rust: Inspect the body and get rid of any rust, fix scratches and pull out any dents. It is important that the body of the car be as flat and smooth as possible.
  • Sanding and Scuffing: You can sand down the car, though there are a few different ways you can do this. If you just need to get rid of the clear coat and existing paint then you can use a scuff pad. You can even sand down to the original primer layer.  Basically you need to sand the car down so that a high quality paint primer can easily stick to the body. If this is the first paint job then you will just have to scuff the surface.
  • Primer: Once you have scuffed and sanded to your satisfaction, spray primer over the vehicle. Do this in a well ventilated area and use a respirator or a face mask depending on the safety concerns of the primer. You will want to spray on two to three coats and let each coat partially dry before applying the next one.
  • Block Sanding: Block sand the car once the primer coats have completely dried. This will show any low places you may have missed or any scratches. Use a different color primer for the last coat so when you sand you will see the low spots. Many times this top coat is called a guide coat.
  • Finishing the Primer Coat: Wipe down the primer coat with a grease remover. This should be free of oil, wax and silicone. To produce a nice surface you will need to sand down the surface again using a 600 or 800 grit sandpaper. Give the car one additional wipe down with the grease remover.
  • Primer Seal: A primer sealer is used so that there is a smooth surface for the new paint job to stick to. This also helps to seal in the primer and can prevent corrosion. Once this is applied you don't need to sand any more, though it's important that the car is kept very clean. Most times you should apply this sealer right before you are going to paint the car.
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