How to Repair Damaged Clear-Coatby Chris Stevenson
Clear-coat paint has uses on vehicle and craft exteriors where a protective layer overlies the pigmented paint underneath. Clear-coat paint, which usually has no paint pigment, consists of a resin base that resists UV light, oxidation and fading. Clear-coat paint comes standard on most new automobiles sold today. Vehicles retain their base color much longer with clear-coat applications. Since clear-coat serves as the first line of defence. It absorbs the first stages of abusive, scratching, marring, peeling and deterioration. Repairing clear-coat requires a straightforward procedure that replaces the clear-coat without damaging the underlying paint.
Park the vehicle and roll the windows up. Wash the vehicle using a sponge, soap and water. If the clear-coat damage is confined to a local area, wash the area, removing all oil, dirt and wax. Dry the paint with clean towels. Use plumber's blue tape and masking paper to mask off the area to be repaired. If a door or fender panel needs clear-coat, mask off the seam of the panel. Cover door handles, keyholes, door guards and trim pieces.
Wrap a piece of 1200 grit wet sanding paper around a rubber sanding block. Wet the sandpaper in clean water and begin sanding the the damaged clear-coat with smooth, even strokes. Use circular or cross-hatch motion. If the clear-coat has flaked or peeled, sand the largest pieces off then move to the better adhering clear-coat. Do not spend too much time in one area; you need to take off only the clear-coat layer.
Dip the sandpaper frequently in water, to ease the sanding friction. Change the sandpaper sheet when it loads up. Examine the bottom of the sandpaper for evidence of your car color coming up. Stop when you see original color -- you do not want to sand into the paint and remove paint layers. Use a medium, firm pressure, using only the flat surface of the sanding block.
Change the sanding paper sheet to 1200-grit after you think you have removed most of the clear-coat. To find existing clear-coat, look at the area at an angle under strong light. Clear-coat will reflect up from the surface. Sand lightly with the 1200-grit paper. Use some lacquer thinner and a clean rag to remove all sanding dust residue. If using a hand-held aerosol can, shake the can until the agitator ball has mixed the clear-coat paint.
Start painting at the top. Spray a thin coat from one side of the damaged area to the other side, using back and forth sweeping motions. Put one layer over the other, moving downward. Wait for the coat to dry, according to the directions. Paint another coat in the same fashion. Keep it thin. If you wish to sand between coats, use the 1200-grit sandpaper, but do so very lightly and wipe the dust off with a clean towel.
Apply as many coats as you wish. Three to four coats will work fine for a nice luster. Wait for the clear coat to dry and cure over a period of at least 24 hours. Wipe the clear-coat with a dry towel. Place a polishing pad on a pneumatic or electric buffer. Apply some some fine polishing compound to the buffer pad. Hold the buffer at the top of the clear-coat and work your way across the top section from one side to another.
Buff one section horizontally then move lower to buff another section. Do not hold the buffer in one area for too long or you risk heating up the clear-coat finish. Wipe the area down with a clean towel and admire the shine.
Things You'll Need
- Dish soap
- Plumber's tape
- Masking paper
- 1200 and 2000-grit sandpaper
- Rubber sanding block
- Lacquer thinner
- Polishing pads
- Fine polishing compound
Chris Stevenson has been writing since 1988. His automotive vocation has spanned more than 35 years and he authored the auto repair manual "Auto Repair Shams and Scams" in 1990. Stevenson holds a P.D.S Toyota certificate, ASE brake certification, Clean Air Act certification and a California smog license.