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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Like most of us here, I had many paint chips on my car after 30,000 miles on my car. Last weekend, I decided to fill in some paint chips on my car, sand it, clear coat, and polish it to like new condition. I took some pics along the way, and I've got a little video to demonstrate how I sprayed the clear coat on.

Use this article for reference for the weekend warrior. I am not a pro by any means, but my results should speak for themselves from the pics. This is NOT a replacement for a proper professional paint job, but it's the next best thing for little money. It does require time though...and some faith in the process.

I welcome any comments or feedback. Here goes:

Materials Necessary:
- Touch up base coat paint (I used a paint pen from automotivetouchup.com mixed to my car's paint color).
- Clear Coat Aerosol Paint Can ONLY (do not bother with the clear coat paint pen, I'll explain later)
- 1500 Grit Sandpaper
- 2000 Grit Sandpaper
- Rubbing Compound
- Painters tape for Masking off areas for Clear Coat Spray
- Machine Polisher/Buffer (I used, and recommend the Adams PC Kit with Polishing Pads, Swirl & Haze Remover and Machine Polish)
- Clay Bar with Adams Detail Spray (or other lubricant)
- Dish Detergent (aka Dawn or some other prep solvent)\
- Lots of Microfiber towels

WARNING: Do NOT bother sanding your car if you don't have a machine polisher/buffer. The Adams PC orbital polisher kit is great because anybody can operate it and it includes the proper pads and polish to remove the sanding damage you will do to your car :)

If you don't care to sand your car, the paint pen does a great job for touch ups on small chips. Usually good enough that it doesn't warrant a sanding, but for larger chips, you'll want a smooth finish.

INSTRUCTIONS:
First of all, I forgot to take pictures of my car before I started, but just imaging how bad your car looks right now. I've got 30,000 hard miles on my car from the upstate winters, salt, you name it. Chances are, mine was as bad, or worse than yours. However, I do have pics of what my car looked like after some sanding. Scary I will say. But I digress, let's gets started:

For your first time, I recommend doing a lower panel. The hood is not the best place to start for sanding. Why? Because it is the least forgiving part of the car. The reflections will show ANY imperfection, even the slightest mark will glare back at you. The bumper and side panels are far more forgiving if you don't get it perfect. And to be honest, you won't get it PERFECT. The touch up paint, especially on metallic cars like mine, may not be a precise match, but it's damn close enough that you generally won't see the difference unless you're looking for it and you're in the right lighting.

STEP 1
Prep the surface. Hand wash, then use your clay bar and get every stinking particle you possibly can off the car. After you clay it, wash again (I used Adam's waterless wash and a Microfiber (MF) towel). Then, use some Dish Detergent (or prep solvent) and clean off the area once more to get any residue left over.

STEP 2
Lay the paint. A paint pen works great I feel. You've got a nice tip to work with to fill in both small and large chips (I had some big honking chips). A tooth pick and a bottle of touch up paint also works well I hear. If you plan on sanding (I assume you are if you're still reading this), make sure to build up the paint above the surface of the car. Go in small doses though. It took me up to 8 or 9 coats to fill in some of my bigger chips. Don't worry if it looks bad, it will for those large chips. You'll be sanding that away to a nice flat surface shortly.

Make sure to paint in good weather if you can. I painted in my detached garage and used work lamps to help heat up the surface for drying. I tried to lay my base coats every 15-20 minutes. For those bigger chunks, it may take more time to dry. A hair dryer can work well to speed up the drying process.

STEP 3 (the scary part)
Sanding. Here is the part that freaks people out. No doubt, I was a little freaked, but I knew how good the Adams PC kit is. I used 1500 grit sand paper, and WET SANDED (don't EVER, in any circumstances, hit your car with dry sand paper). Soak that baby. I left my sand paper in some water for about 20 minutes until it rolled up into a nice blunt. I've used 1000 grit before, but it is too abrasive unless you really globed it on. Stick to 1500 and please, no globing.

I then, started to sand. You'll want to go in one direction only, and sand gently. No need to be pressing down firmly. Some insist you use a sanding block, but I used my hands and I think it worked out pretty well. The sanding process will take time. You want to sand down the touch up paint until it is flat. Dip your finger in water and run your finger across the area, eyes closed. If you feel anything out of the ordinary, keep sanding. Often times you think it will be flat, but I assure, it probably isn't. Sometimes after you sand, you may need to apply more paint. Do so and repeat.

If you do sand your hood, you MUST make sure it is F-L-A-T. If it is raised a few microns, she'll be staring back at you after you're done. Like I said earlier, you can get away with a bit more on the bumper and panels parallel to you standing straight up....but get the surface flat. Here is what my lovely car looked like after sanding:





As you can see, it has acne. I have damaged my clear coat. A total loss. What the hell have I done. You will have some of these thoughts, but please, have faith.

STEP 4
Time to lay on the clear coat. You've sanded away some of you're factory clear coat, indeed. But, you also need to lay some clear coat on that fresh paint you just threw down. This is more tedious since you have to tape stuff off. I wish the clear coat paint pen worked well, but it doesn't. I first tried it last year and it took off my base coat (and I waited a few days for this stuff to dry mind you). Then it dripped down. Ugh, now I needed to seriously sand my car. However, this poor experience taught me some things last year. If you screw up, the PC can be a life saver. It also told me I can sand more stuff, and probably get good results. Indeed, you can. Read on...

First, clean off the car and get rid of all that nice clear coat particles and touch paint you just sanded away. You want a super clean surface before you spray down. Next, mask off your car. Here is some of my masking for the hood:



So, how do you spray clear coat. Welp, DO NOT hold the can straight at the touch up area, and spray it. I tried that last year too, didn't work well. :) You need to spray a nice quick stroke. We don't need a lot of clear coat on here, 2 light coats will do just fine, maybe 3 if you go really light. Here is a video I shot so you can see how I did it:


You want to work your way on to the car. I usually begin at a masked area or away for the car and come in on my area and leave. You will get some clear coat on top of your existing car's clear coat, but, hey hey, you get to sand this too! I did two light coats, just like you saw there. No sanding in between. If you're super anal and have all the time in the world, feel free to sand in between coats. I went real light and didn't lay much on there.

STEP 5
Painting is done. Now, time to sand the clear coat. At this point, your car still looks like crap, and now, it feels like crap when you run your hand over these areas. No problem. Get out the 2000 grit sand paper. Wet it down, and very gently, sand away. You'll want to blend this into the outer areas of where you clear coated, so again, you are doing further damage to your car...but it will have far less impact than 1500. Remember, one direction. This will help blend the clear coat you applied, and giving you that smooth finish once again.

STEP 6
Get out the rubbing compound. Apply some rubbing compound to a MF towel and apply to damaged areas. You can be a bit more firmer with you're application, but as you work the product in, ease up on it. This will help reduce some of your sanding damage. After you've rubbed the compound in, buff it out by hand with a clean MF towel. You may not see a huge difference, but it should reduce it some. It's a bit more abrasive than Adam's S&H remover, which will be coming next to help save the day. But before that, time to clay the area one last time.

Claying will also help you gauge how effective your 2000 grit sanding went. If it doesn't feel glass smooth, you may need to sand just a bit more, but don't over due it. It should feel pretty good, not perfect like before, but darn close.

STEP 7
Break out the PC kit and Adams Swirl and Haze remover. Do you're entire panel that you've been working on. Speed, 5000. Mild pressure (Check out the JunkMan videos for further instruction on using the PC kit). This will reduce most of your damage. For the areas sanded, I kicked it into 6000 RPM with a little more pressure, but not much. The machine should be doing the work. This will eliminate you're damage. Get a light in the area, stand in various positions and verify you no longer see any haze or "film" look that the sanding caused. If you see any of it, keep polishing it. It took me about 3 or 4x of stop and go before I got it completely perfect. After this, follow up with your Machine Polish. Should look mint. See my results:



 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
FINAL THOUGHTS:
Some things to keep in mind. If you can't get at an area with the PC polisher, don't sand it. Couple small areas around the fog lights were tough to get at with the PC. While it came out looking good, I'd say next time, I may just fill in the chip and forget sanding.

Hood work, came out great. Unfortunately, I thought I had sanded one spot down flat, apparently not. That one micron came back to bite me. Of course, I'm sure I'll be doing this again next year, so we will meet again. The other spots came out great though, and you can only see that one spot in a semi-crouched position. So, I will say, the hood is the most difficult spot. Make sure if you work on it, to get it flat flat flat!

Other than that, I'd say compared to a professional paint job, I'd give it an 8 out of 10. The paint touch ups aren't a perfect match, but I blame the metallic paint. For pencil tip chips, you won't tell. For larger chips, up close, you can tell. But, it looks 10x better than before. I have more photos that I will share later, but for now, I've typed enough.

Enjoy, comment, throw stones, please, I can handle it. I've got more touch up paint.
 

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I still have to try my kit that I said Ill try last month.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
A few more shots...

Before:


After:


Hood up close:


Bumper up close:
 

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Damn dude!! LOL...Glad I found my reading material for Tuesday.
 

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I remember something about a spray that blends the new and old clear coats. Sounded interesting.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'd be interested to see that product...I just used a can of automotive clear coat from the local automotive store. Some fine wet sanding and it looks good as new. I think for guys (and girls!) with a PC kit from Adams who enjoy detailing their car, this is a fun project. You can get some really good results with some time and patience.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
hahaha. My first automotive paint job was on my old Z24. I had some plastic trim around my windows that was shredded with 100k+ miles. I was looking to sell the car after buying my G8 and I felt this stupid piece would detract from an otherwise great looking car.

Got some instruction from my younger brother who had transformed his computer case into a gaming rig with a glass finish. So I sanded the trim hard core, painted and clear coated it. All with GM generic paint from Pep Boys. Came out looking damn near identical to the surrounding trim (it was a convertible so it had wrap around trim).

My next job was on the G8 last year where I had a HUGE chip off my side skirt panel beneath the door. Learned a lot from that experience, but it came out looking 99/100% factory finish. I tried pointing out the touch up area to CC7 awhile back and I could not for the life of me find it (he has an almost identical chip that I had).

After that, I knew I was on to something. See above :)

I figured if I screwed it up, I could get my bumper repainted for a decent price. The hood, that was all balls to the wall on that one. So glad it worked out hahaha
 

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Very nice work. I have an actual crack in my paint on my drivers side rear wheel well that I am going to try to make look better and this article will definitely help out. I was going to try using the clear in the pen but now I am glad I did not pick that up yet. What brand of clear did you use? I used the Dupont clear in a can before and it was crap.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks!

Dupli-Color Auto Clear Coat. Nothing special. I've used it a number of times with no problems or clogging. Just keep a steady hand, even strokes, and always moving. Lay a very thin coat with a quick sweeping motion like the video I posted. Worked like a charm, no drips or runs.
 

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You cant use rattle can paint, only roll on.......lol
 

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Everytime I've used rattle cans to paint stuff, like interior pieces on previous cars or whatnot, the overspray is ridiculous and gets all over the place.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Provided you have a clean nozzle and no wind (garage worked great for me), I didn't have any over spray issues. Of course it is clear coat...I may have clear coated my lawnmower a bit. I didn't notice any spray reach the top of my hood (felt glass smooth just like it did prior to spraying).

One thing I did each time before spraying my car, I sprayed the inside of my garage wall real quick just to make sure the nozzle was clean. It was. Then I hit the car. Just make sure the temp is relatively warm (60-80 degrees with less than 50% humidity). Don't spray at night or after it's rained.

Lastly, I ignored most of those requirements as I painted before, during, and after some heavy rainstorms at night :) Get a few work lamps and/or a blow dryer and that will help dry the paint and should aid in preventing paint blush.
 

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that is really amazing, but I still don't have the balls lol. You just did like, about $400+ worth of bodyshop work in your garage for the cost of a can of clearcoat. lol
 

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Discussion Starter #20
yeehaw!
 
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