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Applying Clear Coat: Dos and Don’ts

Applying Clear Coat: Dos and Don’ts

Clear Coat Peeling

What is a clear coat? The term is used in car lingo often, but are you aware of what it is? Dealerships and automotive companies talk about this coat on your car, and yet you still don’t have the slightest clue what they are referring to. Let’s clear things up a bit. A clear coat is a non-pigmented coat of paint that is applied on top of the base coat.

Here’s the breakdown: your car has three layers of paint. The first is the primer, which preps the car for the paint. The next layer of paint is the base coat. This is the color you see on your cars every day. The final step, and last layer is the clear coat. This has no color (hence clear) and is brushed onto the vehicle to protect the other layers from damage. If you don’t maintain this coat, it can chip away at the base coat of your car. Thus, your color will start to slowly disappear with each chip.

Applying Clear Coat – To Do or Not to Do:

Do Check for Flaking

The clear coat leaves the glossy finish behind on your car that keeps it looking new. Often it is hard to tell if anything is wrong with the clear coat specifically. Small scratches and nicks can normally be buffed out and look they were never there in the first place. However, when your clear coat starts to get worn down, your car will look more dull. The paint won’t look as shiny as it used to, and this is due to the coat losing some protective properties. One specific thing to note is whether the paint is flaking or not. Most people don’t notice because the color of your car doesn’t change, instead, it will appear worn. If you look closely though, you will notice the clear coat flaking on the vehicle.

Don’t Cover Just the Chipped Paint

So you found some places where it looks like the clear coat is peeling off. Don’t buy a clear coat spray and attempt to fix it that way. The original clear coat soaked into the base coat, and helped to protect it from UV damage and other issues. If you spray over what is already there, you aren’t fixing the problem, just covering it up. You might even still be able to see where it was chipping in the first place, because this new clear coat won’t be as cohesive with the base coat as the original.

Do Sand Out Little Spots

The only exception to the rule above is if the area is small. Is it easily hidden from prying eyes? Say somewhere along the bottom of the car is chipping. This is a place that most people don’t look, and it is also protected from UV rays. The bottom of the car is where the sun hits the least, and means it is less likely to damage the base coat. To fix this, you need to gently sand down the parts that are flaking. This will smooth everything out to allow you to add the new clear coat to the spot. This is the ONLY time it is okay to touch up the clear coat!

Don’t Do the Whole Coat Yourself

If your car is in bad enough shape that you need the whole thing redone, DON’T do it yourself! Applying clear coat is best left to the professionals. Or, the neighbor you’re always peeking at through the window might be a car guy. Go talk to him for once! Otherwise, this needs to be done at a specialty paint shop or dealership. The entire car will have to be sanded down, removing both the base coat and the clear coat. Then, both paints will have to be put back on, starting with the base coat and moving to the clear coat last. This restores your car to the former beauty it used to be – shiny coat and all.


Continuing to maintain and take care of your car properly can help you avoid the clear coat peeling. Contact DetailXPerts today to schedule an appointment. Keep your car’s shine!



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October 2017
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