How to Prep a Car for Primer

Written by kayar sprang
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Before you paint a car, you have to prepare it. Before you even prime it, wax and paint must be removed. Dents and dings have to be repaired, as well as rust spots. To prep a car for primer, the surface must be clean and flawless.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Wax and sealant coating remover
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Sandpaper
  • Handheld grinder
  • Plastic body filler, possibly
  • Screen, possibly
  • Air compressor
  • Painter's masking tape
  • Brown paper

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  1. 1

    Remove dirt, grime, wax and sealant coatings from the car body by using a heavy-duty cleaner. Check your local auto supply store for available products. Follow the manufacturer's directions to achieve the best results.

  2. 2

    Repair any dents and dings on the car body. Most dents can be removed with a dent puller. Borrow one or buy your own from the local auto supply store. Minor dents and dings can also be fixed with plastic body filler. Follow the manufacturer's directions for the best results. After it dries, sand down the body filler so it's smooth and level with the surrounding area.

  3. 3

    Repair any rust spots or holes on the car body. Remove small rust spots with fine sandpaper. Large, thick rust spots should be removed with a handheld grinder. Use a rough grit wheel at first to remove the rust. Then, smooth the surface down with fine grit sandpaper.

  4. 4

    Fill in the rust holes on the car body with plastic body filler and screen. Level out the filler as best as you can. After the filler dries completely, sand the repairs down with sandpaper so they're smooth and level with the surrounding area.

  5. 5

    Prep a car for primer by sanding the entire body if the existing paint is in bad shape (i.e., it's cracked or otherwise damaged). To remove all the paint, you can buy a liquid stripper at your local auto supply store instead of sanding. Follow the manufacturer's directions to get the best results.

  6. 6

    Wash and thoroughly rinse the car body to remove dust and debris. Use an air compressor to blow the water out from around cracks and crevices. Blow the water from the bumpers, door jambs, mirrors, windows, and so on. Allow the car to completely air dry before you proceed to the next step.

  7. 7

    Tape off the wheels, headlights, tail lights, indicators, door handles, bumpers, chrome, windows, mirror glass, antennas--anything you don't want primer on--with painter's blue masking tape and brown paper. The car is now prepped for a primer to be applied.

Tips and warnings

  • Put on the safety goggles before you begin work. Wear the dust mask anytime you sand the car body.
  • For the primer to adhere properly, the car body must be completely clean and dry.

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