How to Spray Paint Plastic Auto Parts

Updated February 21, 2017

While plastic body panels on cars can save a automobile from expensive dents and dings, even the most careful driver can incur knicks and scratches to the paint job. Small stones and road debris can wreak havoc on even the most pampered automobile. One solution to this dilemma is to have your car repainted. However, this can be a very costly endeavour. Thankfully, painting plastic auto parts is a relatively simple job if the proper preparation is done.

Compare the paint colour with a non-faded, clean area of your automobile to ensure it is a good match.

Prepare painting surface by sanding the area with a 400-grit sandpaper.

Cover any areas that will not be painted with a tarp or old blanket. Use masking tape and newspaper to protect the surfaces directly around your work area.

Wipe the sanded area clean with rag and water to remove any dust or dirt that could compromise the paint finish.

Prime any bare spots using a vehicle primer. Spray the primer onto the car in light coats. Make sure not to apply too much paint or it will create drip marks. Allow area to dry for two or three hours or until surface is no longer tacky to the touch.

Lightly sand the primed area with 400-grit or finer sandpaper and clean with a wet cloth. Let dry completely before painting.

Spray the paint onto the car in a light sweeping motion. Apply one light coat and allow to dry until the surface is no longer tacky to the touch.

Repeat painting process, applying one or two additional light coats until the area is properly covered. Allow paint to dry between coats until it is no longer tacky to the touch.

Apply two to three applications of clear coat. Each coat should be sprayed lightly and allowed to dry completely before adding the next coat.

Remove the tape and newspaper. Follow the manufacturer's directions for applying polishing compounds.


Follow directions on paint can for recommended temperatures.


Spray in a well-ventilated area, breathing vapours can be harmful. Consider wearing a ventilated mask and eye protection.

Things You'll Need

  • Rags
  • Water
  • 400-grit sandpaper
  • Tarp or blankets
  • Newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Vehicle spray paint
  • Clear coat
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About the Author

Shelly Schumacher has a diverse writing background that includes work in print as well as electronic publications. She has been writing for over 18 years and enjoys working with a variety of different clients on both writing projects and as a marketing and public relations consultant. Schumacher holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Wisconsin.