How to repair clear coat bubbles

Updated November 21, 2016

It can be disheartening when repainting your automobile to see bubbles in your final stage of applying the clear coat. After all the work you put into sanding, primer and paint, it is all too easy to see your labour marred by these tiny bubbles, also known as fish eyes. These can be caused by a variety of things, including tiny bits of oil, water or dirt. Even passing diesel exhaust fumes can cause fish eyes in your clear coat. You can repair them, but it is a time-consuming process.

Wet sand the bubbled portion of your automobile's surface using extra-fine sandpaper and water. You must sand away all of the clear coat on the affected portion. For example, if there are bubbles on the hood of your car, you must sand the entire hood, not just the bubbles. Always keep your sanding area wet, and gently sand away the clear coat. Do not sand too hard, or you may remove the paint.

Wash and rinse the sanded areas of your automobile thoroughly to completely remove all debris from the surface. If there is any debris remaining, fish eyes will form again when you reapply the clear coat. Allow the surface to completely dry since water can also cause bubbling in the clear coat.

Mix fish eye preventer and clear coat in your paint sprayer according to the fish eye preventer's instructions. The preventer is silicon-based, and can compensate for tiny bits of oils or debris in the atmosphere that could potentially cause fish eyes.

Spray the clear coat and fish eye preventer mixture on the affected portion of your automobile. Use a smooth, even motion. If you plan to apply more than one coat, make sure that the preceding coat is completely dry. If the preceding coat is still wet, this could also cause bubbles to form.

Things You'll Need

  • Extra-fine sandpaper
  • Water
  • Soap
  • Clean rag
  • Fish eye preventer
  • Clear coat
  • Paint sprayer
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