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6 Ways To Fix a Bad Paint Job on a Vehicle

During the time I worked in a body shop and as an insurance appraiser, I saw tens of thousands of paint jobs. Painting a car is not an easy task and is as much an art form as it is a skill. Therefore, a highly skilled painter is in high demand in the industry. My point here is that it is not just a hobby you can pick up over the short term and expect even mediocre results. It takes years of training and practice. So I do not recommend going DIY on this front.

The best way to fix a bad paint job on a vehicle is to hire a proven professional painter to address the issue. That ensures the car is refinished correctly and that any problems with the paint job are handled properly. Besides, a professional will have the right tools to fix a bad paint job.

That being said, here are a few ways that a bad paint job can be corrected.

1. Sand the Affected Area With Fine-Grit Sandpaper

If you’ve got a bad paint job on your car, one possible way to fix it is to sand the affected area with fine-grit sandpaper. That’ll help to smooth out any imperfections.

The method is best suited for small areas that need a touch-up rather than large sections. Just be careful not to sand too aggressively, as you don’t want to damage the underlying paint.

Important: You’ll want to make sure you’re using a dust mask, like this type found on Amazon while sanding, as inhaling the particles can be harmful to your health.

Once done sanding, you can repaint the area and hopefully achieve a better result. For the best outcome, it’s best to take the vehicle to a professional body shop to have the area sanded and repainted.

2. Use a Heat Gun To Remove Bad Paint

If you’re dealing with a bad paint job that’s due to bubbling or peeling, you can use a heat gun to fix the problem. The heat from the gun will help loosen the paint, which you can then scrape off gently. 

Just be careful not to overdo it with the heat gun, as you can easily damage the underlying paint. In addition, be sure to wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself from the fumes. Once you’ve removed the bad paint job, you can repaint the area and hopefully achieve better results.

3. Use Chemical Strippers

If you want to remove an old paint job that was poorly done, chemical strippers can be a good option. They work by breaking down the paint so it can be scraped off.

And since there are different types of chemical strippers, it’s best to choose one that’s appropriate for the kind of paint you’re dealing with. In addition, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself from the fumes.

4. Use a Dustless Blaster

If you’re dealing with a bad paint job that’s over a large area, you might want to use a blaster to remove the paint. The blaster uses high-pressure air to blast a mixture of air and abrasive substances like silica sand, recycled glass, or coal slag. The high-pressure release of the mixture ensures the blaster removes the paint as needed.

Here’s a video demo of a blaster removing paint from different surfaces:

Blasting can be dangerous, so it’s important to take proper safety precautions. In addition, you’ll need to have access to a blaster, which can be expensive to rent or purchase.

If you don’t feel comfortable using a blaster, you can take the vehicle to a professional body shop and have them remove the paint.

5. Remove Fisheyes by Sanding and Polishing

If you’ve got a bad paint job due to fisheyes, you might be able to remove them by sanding and polishing the affected area. Fisheyes are small imperfections in the paint that can cause the finish to look dull. These imperfections can result from contaminated paint or improper painting techniques.

To remove fisheyes, you’ll need to:

  1. Sand the affected area using fine-grit sandpaper.
  2. Once you’ve sanded the area, you can polish it to help restore the shine.

Just be sure not to overdo it with the sanding and polishing, as you don’t want to damage the paint.

6. Repair the Clearcoat by Sanding and Polishing

If the bad paint job is due to a damaged clear coat, you might be able to fix it by wet sanding and polishing the affected area. Clearcoat is a type of paint applied over the basecoat and helps protect it.

To repair a damaged clear coat, you’ll need to:

  1. Wet sand the affected area with fine-grit sandpaper.
  2. Polish the area with a polishing compound.
  3. Wax the area to protect the new paint job.

Related The Average Cost To Detail a Car or Truck (Partial vs. Full).

Bottom Line: Hire a Professional To Do the Job

A professional painter painting a vehicle

If you’re not comfortable repairing the bad paint job yourself, especially if the damage is extensive, you should hire a professional body shop or painter to handle the repairs.

Remember, fixing a bad paint job is a multi-step process that involves sanding, polishing, and painting. It may include redoing the basecoat and clearcoat, as well.

A professional can assess the damage and determine the best way to fix it. In addition, they’ll have the necessary equipment and supplies to do the job correctly. While hiring a professional will cost you more, it’s probably worth it if you want the job done right.

Poorly repaired fender on a car
A typical DIY repair and paint job on a car

Here are a few tips for finding a reputable professional:

  • Get recommendations from friends, family, or co-workers who have had similar work done: Ask them who they used and if they were happy with the results.
  • Check online reviews: Once you’ve got a few names, do a quick Google search to see what others have said about their work. Read the reviews carefully, as some may be fake.
  • Request written quotes: Once you’ve found a few professionals you’re considering, ask for written estimates from them. That will help you compare the cost of the job and ensure you’re getting a fair price.
  • Check for insurance: Make sure the professional you hire is insured in case of any accidents or damage to your vehicle.
  • Ask about warranties: Find out if the professional offers any type of warranty on their work. That way, you can get the job redone if you are unhappy with the results.

Extra Tip: To save you the hassle of spending more on fixing a bad paint job, it’s best to invest in a quality paint job from the start. That ensures your vehicle looks its best and the paint lasts for years.

For more, check out How Much Does a Pearl Paint Job Cost? | Expect to Pay This.