How to Sand a Car

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There are few things in life more satisfying than the sight of a freshly-sanded car. The deep, gleaming shine is something that every vehicle owner should be able to enjoy. Many people don’t realize the importance of sanding a car before applying primer and paint. It’s one of the most important steps in achieving a good-looking paint job, as even expensive paints won’t look great if you skip this step.

In this post, we’ll show you how to get started with these steps for better results!

How To Sand a Car

1st step: Preparing Your Vehicle for Painting

This includes removing any unwanted loose dirt or debris on surfaces using a high-pressure water sprayer & wiping the surface clean with a microfiber cloth. For best results use petroleum jelly around edges where old layers have peeled away from metal or plastic body parts.

Masking the car with masking tape really helps to protect it from any scratches while you are sanding, and also keeps paint off of areas that don’t need to be painted yet.

2nd step: Repair the damage from the car’s previous paint job.

This step is less about cutting into a new surface and more about repairing old damage that may have been caused by scratches, dents, overspray, or any number of other causes. Here, no big material removal is required, just need to sand a slight layer off.

3rd step: Sand the old paint & primer off with a sander.

The next step is to sand down any scratches or bumps on the surface of the car with an auto body DA sander or you can use an electric sander for car paint removal and 180-grit paper. This may take some elbow grease, but the end result will be worth it. These are usually hidden underneath layers of old paint and primer so you’ll need to go back over these places again before moving onto finer grits (220) for best results.

After this stage, move onto 220-grit sanding for added smoothness in preparation for painting your vehicle’s new finish coat. You can do as many stages of sanding as you want, depending on how much time you have – just make sure that every layer has started at coarse grit levels (100-180).

The most important thing to remember when sanding your car is that wet sanding will leave scratches behind – never use water or any other type of liquid on the surface while you’re sanding!
The best way to get rid of these types of imperfections is with 100% pure acetone polish remover. You can find this by looking at automotive paint supply stores. It’s worth noting, however, that once you’ve used it on one part of the vehicle don’t spread it all over because this could lead to uneven drying time which would ruin the finish has dried.

Use 220 grit sandpaper to sand the primer coat. Once you’re done, cover the car in a thin layer of oil-based primer and sand again with 220 grit to make sure every inch is smoothed out before painting.

Step 4: Finish

End the car sanding process by using 380 grit sandpaper. This will create an ultra-smooth surface for primer and paint to adhere to. This is a great way to make sure that the car has been sanded properly before applying any more coats of paint.

If you want, you can continue with higher grits such as 400 or 600 too; this will produce smoother surfaces but at a greater expense in time spent on each stage. It’s worth noting that when it comes time to apply your color coat, these finer grades won’t be necessary because they’re not needed for bonding purposes “at all.” All they do is prepare the surface so subsequent coats are smooth and free from imperfections – which means less work down the line.​

Now that your paint job has been prepared and primed for application, it’s time to start applying coats of automotive paint!

Here is a list of a few additional tips you should follow when sanding a car

  • Before you start sanding the car follow the safety instructions in your owner’s manual.
  • Keep the sander moving at all times. This way, you’ll reduce any chance of leaving an uneven surface or deep scratches by accident.
  • Start with coarse sandpaper (100 grit) and work your way up to finer grades until finished.
    Always sand in a circular motion, and move up the surface of the car.
  • Use plenty of water to keep things cool and prevent rust from forming on metal surfaces during the process.
  • Never use an abrasive against aluminum (for example if you’re using steel wool). The chemical reaction is quite dangerous for both materials.

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