How do I paint an old car over the existing paint?

I bought an old Chevy Impala that I’m going to restore, but I only have a small budget to complete the job. For the sake of saving money, I want to do the paint job myself with minimal extra work. Can I paint over the existing paint on a car?

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Eric Schad · Answered on Dec 06, 2022
Reviewed by Shannon Martin, Licensed Insurance Agent.
Auto enthusiasts and purists will tell you that painting over an existing paint job is a giant mistake. However, it’s understandable if you can’t afford to have the car professionally repainted since it could cost as much as $3,500.
So, to paint an old car over the existing paint and achieve the best results, here’s what to do.
You should absolutely, positively sand your Chevy Impala to level the surface in preparation for new primer and paint. This will make your paint smoother and help it adhere to the car better. Rent an orbital sander to make the job quick and easy, and use 400- or 600-grit sandpaper.
Clean the sanding dust off with mineral spirits, allow the car to dry, and then spray on your first coat of primer. After 20 minutes to an hour, spray on another coat if necessary. Once this dries, use 1,500-grit sandpaper and wipe off the dust with acetone or paint thinner.
Next, use a compressed air spray gun to apply the paint of your choosing. Let the first coat dry for an hour or so before adding another coat. And that’s it—you’re finished!
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