How To Repaint A Car – Part Two – Preparation

How To Paint A Car

Finally! Part Two is here – The all important preparation. Between the camera taking an early holiday and my good ‘ole back injury flaring up again nothing much has been happening around here, and I apologize for that.

Anyhoo, on with the show.

Our ‘ guinea pig’ VN Commodore is for the most part a fairly straight and tidy car except for the left front guard which had met with a guide post after a corner was taken a tad too fast in the wet. Rather than repairing the guard we decided to source another one as VN parts are easy to come by and a nice straight one was picked up for less than the cost of a slab of beer.

The first thing we had to do was remove the pin striping and protective mould. I have a scraper/spatula type thing for doing this. It is sharp enough to get under the edge and lift the striping but not sharp enough to dig into the paint. If you have access to a heat gun or hair dryer these can make the job easier by softening the glue. Too much heat and the striping will become soft and break so a bit of experimenting may be needed. The heat gun and scraper are useful for removing the glue or double-sided tape that is used to secure the moulds also. Once you have the most of the glue removed you can then clean the surface with mineral turpentine or thinners.

You will notice from the photo that the clear coat is lifting along the top edge of the guard. This is a problem that plagues cars built around the mid-to-late eighties and early nineties and can make the job of preparing the car a tedious one as all of the flaking clear coat needs to be removed.

When preparing your car if the paint surface is in reasonable condition you can get away with simply hand sanding the surface with light grade paper – dry rub 220 paper followed by a lighter grade to remove any sanding marks. The idea is to ‘dull-down’ the surface to provide a key for the primer to adhere to.

If the surface has imperfections either on the surface or underneath the paint it will be necessary to sand the surface until it is free of imperfections. On our front guard you will see that we had to take all of the paint off the top surface and a couple of surrounding areas however we were able to just lightly sand the remaining surface as it was in good condition.

We cheated a little bit with the removal of the flaky clear coat and used an orbital sander and then followed up with some more hand sanding to ‘feather’ the edge of the bare metal in to the remaining paint. If you don’t like the prospect of hand sanding the majority of the car and only have an orbital sander I would suggest you use a ‘hi-build’ primer or spray putty so you can wet sand the marks out. They do save a lot of elbow grease but the results can be a bit average. When feathering any edges I use my fingernail and run it backwards across the edge and if it catches at all it needs more sanding.

Ok, so now we have the surface completely sanded, cleaned up with wax and grease remover and ready for a coat of primer.

Obviously all paint surfaces aren’t going to be this good and I have a car lined up that has crappy paint and it’s fair share of dints so as soon as I can arrange to get it here I will post another part to Part Two! Maybe part 2.5! Also I am no panel beater but I will share with you my methods for straightening panels and using body filler once the vehicle is in my possession.

Part Three – Repairing Dents can be found here.

5 thoughts on “How To Repaint A Car – Part Two – Preparation

  1. Hi,
    To be honest the only way I know of telling if a compressor is suitable for spray painting is by the cfm rating (cubic feet per minute). Any compressor below 10 cfm output will struggle to keep up enough pressure from what I have found. Do you know the cfm rating of the compressor?


  2. Hi Eddy,
    You’re answer makes sense now that I see it on the website, rather than the email that is automatically sent when a comment is left. 112 litres per minute converts to roughly 4 cfm so I think the compressor would struggle to keep up.

    As you can imagine the pressure at the gun drops off quickly when you don’t have enough flow and the paint flow is adversly affected, resulting in a ‘blotchy’ appearance. If possible I would be hiring/borrowing a larger compressor for a better result.

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