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(DIY) Respraying Your Vehicle

By Yusuf Lemiso

Proper vehicle maintenance, regarding the exterior surface, can as well impact its durability. Nonetheless, there comes a time when respray your vehicle becomes an inevitable issue. People, though, can have varying reasons as to why they are respraying their vehicles. A large percentage of people decide to respray their vehicle when it starts fading, losing its glossiness, or altogether looks dingy. A smaller population respray their vehicles to conceal dents or unsightly scratches after perhaps a small accident. On such instances, however, a little surface repair before painting is necessary. Others simply respray their vehicles to eliminate blemishes that ruin its appearance. An even a smaller percentage of people respray their vehicles just for colour change: this applies, of course, for those whose pockets allow it. Whichever the reason, the end goal for respraying is to restore the vehicle’s smooth, sleek state.

Vehicle respraying can be costly and time consuming. But when one opts to do the respraying individually instead of submitting it to the vehicle technicians, the task can prove to be tiresome but, nonetheless, a very good way of saving cash as the project does not entail much. After grasping some few basics, one is good to go. When the vehicle is exposed to weather over time, ultimately adverse effects take their toll i.e. peeling off becomes noticeable. For those who observe the right maintenance practises, it will take quite a good time before they embark on the respraying project.

Proper vehicle maintenance regarding exterior surface area can include:

  • Parking the vehicle in the shade to avoid direct sunlight but avoid trees as the falling branches may tend to cause scratches.
  • Avoid driving on sand, salt and loose gravel.
  • Wash your vehicle regularly with mild automotive detergent. Use a soft cloth or sponge to avoid scratching the surface of the paint.

So when you’ve decided to do the respraying yourself, then here is the basic overview. Let me break it down for you. First of all you ought to look for an ideal place for the project, which is excellent in ventilation, minimal dust, good lighting and a reliable supply of electricity. Moreover, the place should be away from heaters and furnaces due to the flammability feature of the paint fumes.

Important questions to ask yourself are:

  • Are you painting the whole vehicle (plus door jambs, trunk areas, under hood) or only the exterior surface area?
  • Will you strip the vehicle to bare metal or just paint over the existing finish?
  • Which type of paint (Single-stage base coat/clear coat, urethane, acrylic enamel, acrylic lacquer, water base etc.) are you planning on using?

After earmarking your ideal place, it’s time to go for the tools and equipment. You will need plenty of 1200 and 2000 grit wet and dry sand paper, sander, masking tape, newspaper for masking off not required areas, air compressor and spray gun, paint thinners, face masks, safety glasses, and moisture separator which ensures you have only dry air supply (moisture in the paint can easily ruin your project). Another option for the dry air is using turbine paint system such as Earlex system: it does not require an air compressor and ensures that you have a dry air supply.

If you are looking to match the original colour of your vehicle, it is recommended to provide the colour code to an auto paint shop. Colour code is normally found on vehicle’s compliance plate. Before you roll down your sleeve for the project, ensure a dust free area, avoid underneath trees that may drop objects onto the wet paint. Wash the vehicle down to remove any dirt, grease or road grime. Also, if you are looking to improve the exterior surface only, mask the area you don’t want painted with newspaper.

Once you’ve decided on your ideal paint, settled on a plan that corresponds with your specific needs and budget plan, it’s time to respray your vehicle. Prior to the commencement of the project, it’s also fine to pay a garage a visit to acquaint oneself further and to master that confidence. Assemble the tools and dress for the project. After you are done with the sand paper work, use a soft cloth to wipe the dust. Fill the spray gun with base coat or primer. Holding the gun methodically, spray one gallon of the base coat or primer, three gallons of top coat and two to three gallons of clear coat. For large vehicles; one and a half gallons of base coat, four gallons of top coat, and three to four gallons of clear coat laquer. Professional may tend to use less, though.

Mix the primer with thinners using the ratios recommended on the Paint Can instruction. It’s advisable for first timers to do a little practise using a discarded vehicle. Hold the spray gun approximately 6 inches from the panel and spray in side to side in a sweeping motion. Apply the primers in thin even coats; it will take roughly two or three coats to cover the surface completely. Use recommended drying times on Paint Can instruction between coats. The primed surface will have a powdery finish, use a 2000 grit wet and dry sand paper to lightly sand the surface to a smooth, even finish. Wipe the prime surface with a rag slightly dampened with thinners.

Sticking to the manufacturer’s instructions, apply top coat paint using the same spraying technique. Apply three to four coats using recommended drying times specified on the Paint Can. Inspect the finished job for imperfection and respray when need be. When you are satisfied that your vehicle is looking like new, leave it to dry for the recommended time provided on the Paint Can instructions.

You are now set to roll down the road with a renewed sense of pride!