How to get runs out of clear coat paint

Written by kristopher riggs
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How to get runs out of clear coat paint
Fixing runs in clear coat requires automotive painting experience for best results. (detail of vintage British car, bumper, wheel, and image by Bo Widerberg from

A common mistake in spraying clear coat on a vehicle is running. Runs are accumulations of paint or clear coat that have enough mass to literally "run" down the body of the vehicle. These are typically caused by spraying too heavily or thickly in certain areas or by adverse painting conditions. Fixing runs in clear coat is an intermediate painters skill, and automotive painting experience is advised for the best results.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1500-grit sandpaper
  • 2000-grit sandpaper
  • Clean cloth
  • Water bucket
  • Rubbing/polishing compound
  • Terry cloth

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  1. 1

    Survey the area where the clear coat has run. Feel the paint run and determine its origin and end point. Thoroughly wet the area with a water hose or soaked cloth.

  2. 2

    Place pieces of 1500 and 2000-grit sandpaper in a water bucket and allow to soak for approximately five minutes. Gently rub the run with the 1500 grit paper, occasionally pausing to rub the area with your hand to check for bumps. Continue to sand the area until all the raised bumps are rubbed flat.

  3. 3

    Rub the 2000-grit sandpaper over the affected area. Ensure the sandpaper is constantly wet while sanding. Dry off the area and ensure no raised bumps are present and the paint surface appears slightly dull. Continue sanding if necessary until the area is smooth to the touch and no glossy spots remain.

  4. 4

    Apply the rubbing/polishing compound on the dull area using a clean cloth. Rub the compound into the area in a rotating motion. Apply force equivalent to thoroughly washing the vehicle with a sponge. Ensure the entire dulled area is covered with the compound and allow to dry for approximately 10 minutes.

  5. 5

    Wipe the area clean with a dry terry cloth, removing all dry compound. Use a wet cloth to thoroughly clean the area and wipe dry. Apply a second coat of rubbing/polishing compound if the previously sanded area still appears dull.

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