How to Fix Clear Coat

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Fading car (Photo: @wiesmannnn via Twenty20)
Does your car look like it has a sunburn? Your car’s exterior is exposed to a lot of wear and tear, namely, UV rays, inclement weather, dust, and flying debris, to name a few.
Clear coat failure manifests in unsightly peeling that exposes your car’s paint job. Once your paint is unprotected, the affected area often oxidizes or fades, which will make your vehicle look even worse.
The best course of action is to nip clear coat peeling in the bud. Here’s how to fix your clear coat.

Gather your materials

Luckily you probably have most of the required materials on-hand.
  • A bucket of warm water
  • Non-abrasive car wash soap
  • Degreaser
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Spray can of clear coat
  • 800-grit sandpaper

Clean and mask off the area

Use the degreaser to get rid of any wax that may be leftover on the vehicle’s surface. After that’s done, use the car washing soap to clean off the full body panel. This will get rid of any debris that could potentially get caught in the clear coat.
Mask off the affected area with painter’s tape. Apply the tape roughly one inch away from the peeling.

Sand the damaged clear coat

Use the 800-grit sandpaper to smooth the peeling clear coat until it is no longer rough. Lightly sand the area around the peeling. Keep in mind, you are trying to blend the damaged area, not to remove more clear coat. Afterward, wipe the area clean with a microfiber cloth and isopropyl alcohol to ensure all of the remnants of the sanding process have been removed.

Apply the new clear coat

Before spraying the clear coat, shake the can for at least a minute. Apply a light first coat to the entire area you sanded (not just the previously damaged area). Allow to dry for five minutes before applying a second light coat. If you think enough clear coat has been applied, gently pull the tape off.
To be safe, allow the clear coat to dry for at least 24 hours (drying times could vary drastically depending on where you live).

Sand again

Once you’re sure the clear coat has fully dried, use fine-grit sandpaper to wet sand the border of the repair. Blend the new clear coat with the old clear coat. Remember to be gentle to ensure that you do not remove any layers of the clear coat.

Finish with a polish

Apply a rubbing compound and then polish the area with a buffer. Use a low setting and apply light pressure. Give the clear coat a few weeks to cure and then apply some wax.
Great job! Now that you’ve taken all the steps to repair your clear coat, no one should be able to tell the repaired area from the old clear coat.