How to Clear Coat Your Car

by Erin Ringwald
Luxury Car sportscar from my luxury car series image by alma_sacra from

A clear coat on a car gives it a new, fresh look, and it protects the paint job from the elements. If you are refinishing your car or are looking to customize a vehicle, the clear coat is applied after you finish painting. You can hire a professional to finish your car for you, but this is expensive. Clear coating your own car takes little time and effort and is also inexpensive. To do it yourself, you need little more than some sandpaper, an airbrush and some clear coat.

Step 1

Cover anything you do not want clear coated with newspaper or plastic sheeting. This includes windows, door handles, mirrors and head and tail lights. Use masking tape to secure the protective covering in place.

Step 2

Dip your sandpaper in water to moisten it. Use the wet sandpaper to sand the entire surface of your car until it is smooth. Remoisten the sandpaper as needed throughout the sanding. When choosing sandpaper, use a fine grain. Leave the car to dry completely.

Step 3

Wipe your entire car down with a wet rag to remove any dust and debris. When you clear coat, you will seal in everything on the car's surface. Allow the car to dry again.

Step 4

Prepare your clear coat according to manufacturer's instructions. Each brand will have a different set of instructions on mixing. Add the mixed clear coat to an airbrush.

Step 5

Use steady strokes to coat the entire car with the airbrush. Work in 12 inch sections to ensure evenness in the coating.

Step 6

Leave your clear coat to dry completely. Drying times will vary by product as well as environmental conditions.

Step 7

Remove all of the protective coverings from your car.

Polish your car using an electric buffer and buffing compound of your choice.


  • If you have never worked with an airbrush before, take your time. If you are not happy with the finished product, you can resand your car and try again.
  • When painting and clear coating, keep your car in a well-ventilated location, out of the elements. Your room should be dust free.

Items you will need

  • Newspaper
  • Making tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Wet rag
  • Clear coat
  • Airbrush
  • Electric buffer
  • Buffing compound

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