How to repair a peeling clear coat

Updated April 17, 2017

The paint on most vehicles is made of a base colour coat with a clear coat of paint on top. The clear coat is the paint that is most exposed to harmful and damaging UV rays. The rays can cause the clear coat to dry out or become oxidised. Dry clear coat begins to flake and peel, showing white, flaky areas where the paint is peeling. In most cases, the base colour paint isn't damaged. Repair a peeling clear coat before further damage is caused by following a few steps.

Use a red scuff pad to sand over any peeling clear coat paint. Keep the scuff pad flat against the surface and keep the pressure from your hand as even as possible. Sand the until there is no longer any peeling clear coat visible.

Sand along the edges where the clear coat is peeling. Often, there are white rings or lines where the peeling clear coat meets with non-peeling clear coat. Make sure to sand the these areas until the clear coat is completely gone.

Use a grey scuff pad to sand the entire panel, even the areas where the clear coat is intact. If the bonnet is the area with the peeling paint, use the grey scuff pad for the entire bonnet. If it is the boot or roof, sand those entire areas. This will make them look slightly dull.

Wipe off all areas that have been scuffed with the scuff pads. Use wax and grease remover and a towel. This removes any dust, grease or wax contaminants that could show up underneath the new paint. The wax and grease remover evaporates almost immediately, so there is no need to wash it away.

Spray the entire panel with clear coat paint. Hold the can 6 to 8 inches from the surface and move the can left and right. Spray a total of three or four coats on the surface. Let the paint dry for four hours before handling it.

Things You'll Need

  • Red scuff pads
  • Gray scuff pads
  • Wax and grease remover
  • Towel
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About the Author

Since 1997 Jenny Carver has served as editor and freelance writer for many offline and online publications including,, "Hoof Beat News," "Import Tuner" and others. Carver owns a custom automotive shop where she has been doing paint and body work, custom interior work and engine building for over 11 years.