The following instructions will help you make your own body repairs on most popular vehicles. Although repairing scratches and painting isn’t difficult, be sure to READ these instructions completely before you begin.
TOOLS AND EQUIPEMENT
- Sandpaper (fine and extra fine, wet or dry)
- Masking tape
- Can of primer
- Can of paint
- Sponge or cloth
- Wax remover/solvent
- Fine rubbing compound
- Use 80-grit sandpaper to grind down the paint to the bare metal. Some scratches are deep enough to require body filler, while others can be sanded with fine sandpaper, primed and painted.
- When you’re finished grinding, the metal should be shiny and the paint should have a “feathered” edge where it meets bare metal.
- On a piece of plastic or glass, mix body filler and creme hardener according to the product instructions.
- Spread the mixture evenly and smoothly over the entire area to be painted. Several thin coats are better than one thick coat.
- Let the mixture dry until it can just be scratched with a finger nail. Use a “cheese-grate” body file to remove any high spots. Go slowly, and don’t remove too much filler.
- Check frequently for high and low spots with the palm of your hand. You may have to apply another thin coat of body filter and repeat the smoothing process until the hardened filler matches the contour of the sheet metal.
- Sand the area with a piece of 320 or 400-grit (fine to extra fine) sandpaper.
Make sure the area is clean, dry and smooth. Don’t worry if the sanding marks extend into the surrounding paint.
- Once you’ve sanded the area, wet a piece of 400-grit paper and sand it lightly again. Wet sanding will feather the edges of the surrounding paint into the area to be painted.
- For large areas, you could use a sanding block, but it’s not really necessary for a small job.
- Start by washing the area to remove all traces of dirt and road grime. If the vehicle has been waxed frequently, you should wipe it with a thinner or some type of wax remover so that the paint will adhere.
- Once the area is sanded to your satisfaction, cover the surrounding area with masking tape and newspaper. Be sure to cover any chrome or trim that might get sprayed. Mask far enough back from the damaged area to allow for overspray. If you mask right around the sanded spot, you’ll end up with a series of unsightly lines marking the edge of the newly painted area.
- Spray the area with primer. Don’t hold the paint can in one spot. (If you’ve never painted before, it’s a good idea to practice on something before you actually paint your vehicle.) You can avoid excess overspray by cutting a hole (about the same size as the area you’re painting) in a piece of cardboard. Hold the cardboard steady, approximately one to two inches above the area, as you spray on the primer. It’s better to spray on several light coats than one heavy coat.
- Let the primer dry for several minutes between coats, and make sure you’ve covered all the bare metal.
- After the final coat of primer has dried, sand the area with wet 400-grit sandpaper, wash it off and let it dry.
- Using the cardboard again, spray on the touch-up paint. The first coat, known as a fog coat, should be very light. Remember to keep the paint can moving back and forth eight to 12 inches from the surface. Apply several thin coats at about 30-second intervals. The final coat should be glossy.
- Once you’ve finished painting, let the paint dry for about 15 minutes before you remove the masking tape and newspaper.
- Let the paint dry for several days.
- Rub the painted area out lightly with a fine grade rubbing compound. The finished job should look like the rest of the vehicle. Don’t rub too hard, or you’ll cut through the new paint.
- Wash and polish the area.
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