Auto painting is a specialized skill requiring professional spray and safety equipment for large areas and flawless results. There are things anyone can do, however, to make the car’s existing finish cleaner and brighter and to repair small scratches to minimize rust. Your work needn’t be perfect or show-quality for it to improve the car’s looks significantly. Try these projects from the book Fix It! How to Repair Automotive Dents, Scratches, Tears and Stains and you’ll see what we mean.
A basic wash and wax will remove most dirt and contaminants that collect on your vehicle’s finish. Occasionally a more stubborn stain will be left behind. The less often the car has been washed and waxed beforehand, the harder it will be to get the stain off. Doing so may require removing some paint— the portion holding the stain. When that’s the case, as in this project, we will remove only a fraction of a millimeter in thickness, using polish rather than sandpaper.
If left on for too long, any foreign substance can stain your car’s paint.
Sitting leaves have left stubborn discolorations in this silver finish. Bird droppings—food broken down by a bird’s digestive system—are another common substance that can damage paint. Any reactive substance can hurt your car’s finish, and the longer it sits the greater the risk.
Clean the area with car-wash soap properly mixed with water and rinse well to see how much of the stain remains.
Put polishing, or rubbing, compound onto a soft cloth or pad and rub it throughout the affected area, using a circular motion. You will notice the rag taking on the paint’s color as the outer-most layer begins to rub off.
As they do with headlight lenses, sunlight and environmental exposure will oxidize paint, leaving a faded, hazy appearance. The once red paint on this Toyota has taken on a whitish hue. There is good paint below it, though, and we can even out the color and restore luster with the same technique we used for the paint stain in the previous project. Hand or machine buffing will greatly improve the look of oxidized paint. All it takes is rubbing compound and a little elbow grease.
This is the classic oxidized look—hazy, faded, and whitish.
Apply rubbing compound to the oxidized paint. For best results, work on one portion of the faded area at a time.
We polished this by hand with a terry cloth rag and applied firm even pressure in a circular motion. Keep applying rubbing compound and use fresh portions of rag.
As you work the compound into the paint, you will move paint molecules around and some of them will color your rag. That means you’re getting the damaged part of the finish off and exposing good paint.
We had access to a power buffer, so we tried it, but the difference was negligible. You can get an excellent result by hand . . .
. . . and here it is.
Fix It! How to Repair Automotive Dents, Scratches, Tears and Stains is a complete guide for any car or truck owner who wants their ride to look, feel, and smell like it did the day they bought it. Years of commuting to work and family vacations will take its toll on a car. Coffee spills, paint scratches and fades, hoods and fenders acquire dents and rust, and smells linger in the upholstery and ventilation. It all adds up to a car that’s not as fun to drive as it used to be and maybe even embarrassing. Whether breathing new life into your reliable ride or getting it ready to sell, you can solve these problems with a few basic tools and products, and the right instruction on how to use them.
Fix It! How to Repair Automotive Dents, Scratches, Tears and Stains provides step-by-step projects anyone at any skill level can accomplish to help keep their car looking its best. From buffing a scratch to popping a dent, doing it yourself has never been easier.