Clear Coat Failure & Re-Spray

Often I’ll get emails or see posts on reddit, or a detailing forum from someone asking if their paint can be repaired. Attached will be a picture of chipped, or extremely worn clear coat, and then someone has to give the poor guy the bad news. Sorry, that’s clear coat failure, you’ll need to re-spray. Ouch. Getting your car re-painted is expensive, and doing it yourself can be daunting or seem impossible to get a decent result. Well we went ahead and tried it ourselves. In hopes of improving the look of the car, as well as maybe encouraging some of you to give it a try yourselves. Let me preface by saying we do paint corrections, not painting. We are by no means professional painters, but we wanted to give it a shot anyway, and who knows; maybe it will encourage someone else to try it out.

Some of you may remember Dan’s Miata from this post a while back.


When he purchased this car, the rear plastic finish panel’s clear coat had failed. It was really an eyesore on an otherwise beautiful car.




We started by giving it a good wash with dish soap to strip any wax or sealants on the paint, then brought her in the garage to begin. First thing was to remove the license plate and badges.


We used a heat gun to warm up the adhesive on the badges, then used a plastic scraper to pop them off.



Once they were off they left behind some gooey adhesive. We used some goo-gone, a plastic scraper and a microfiber to remove what was left.


Followed by a final wipe-down with some ipa to make sure the surface was clean, and prepped.


We chose to keep the panel on the car instead of removing it, if we could go back we would’ve removed it, but it still worked out for us. Then began the masking…




And lots…


…of masking.


Now we were ready to begin sanding back the panel. We started with dry 320 grit sandpaper and went to town.



We kept going until we had uniform sanding marks all over, that also removed the old defects.

Another cleaning with ipa and we were ready to spray. We used aerosol cans from Automotive Touchup, but if you have a compressor and spray gun, I would recommend using that, but we went for the ultimate DIY approach.


We had plastic adhesion promoter, primer, base coat, and clear coat.

Make sure you wear a respirator! Paint in your lungs is bad.


Give your can a good shake, and it’s time to spray!


We sprayed two light coats of the plastic adhesion promoter, and then followed with 3 coats of primer.


Here’s what we had:



Once it was dry, we wet sanded with 600 grit sandpaper, and followed with 1500. We then sprayed a few coats of base coat, just enough to have even coverage all around, and followed with 4 coats of clear. We removed all the masking, and let it dry for 24 hours.

When we came back to it, this was our result:



The paint was uniform without any clear coat failure, but we had a lot of polishing to do! Finally, we were back in our comfort zone.

We started by wet sanding with 1500, and followed with 3000.


Now, time for the fun part.



We used a 6″ MF Cutting pad and Ammo leveling fluid for the larger areas, and the went down to the 3″ for the tighter areas.


After that we ended it with our finishing pads and polish, to bring out the pop, re-badged it; and called it a day.



Overall we were very happy with how it turned out. Especially with the minimal painting experience we have, and the fact that we used rattle cans. The finish isn’t perfect, there is a lot of orange peel, and the color doesn’t match perfectly, but it is a huge improvement. Remember this is still naked paint, no waxes or sealants since the car has just been painted. You wouldn’t be able to tell this was re-sprayed with spray paint in someone’s garage unless you really inspected it closely, and that’s all we were going for. This isn’t a show car, just a daily that looks a little bit nicer now. I would definitely recommend this to someone with a small area that needs to be re-painted, give it a shot; you might love the way it turns out.


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