6 Tips for Removing Car Paint

A woman in a blue car.

If your car is going to be repainted, you will likely need to remove car paint. You also may just want to remove streaks of another car's paint from your vehicle after a mild fender-bender. Take note of these six suggestions for how to effectively remove car paint from your vehicle.

1. Power-Sanding Paint from Car Parts

Using a power sander is an effective way to remove car paint from a large area. You may want to remove the part from the vehicle first, if it is a fender, the hood, or a bumper for the best results. Attach an air compressor to a pneumatic-powered orbital sander for steady power. Add a dust collector bag to vacuum up the paint dust as you sand. Ensure you can get replacement paint in the precise color on your car currently before you begin a large-scale sanding job. Use fine-grit sandpaper, about 220 grit, for paint sanding.

2. Hand-Sanding Small Paint Spots

If you just want to polish off a few chips of paint from another vehicle or object you gently bumped into, use a sanding block, again with a fine-grit 220 sandpaper, and go over the spot carefully. Touch up paint that is fairly close to the color of your car should be satisfactory, but match it if you can.

3. Stripping Off Rust

If you need to strip paint and rust off to rebuild a car part that has rusted through in various spots, use a grinding sander meant to reshape metal. A 24-grit grinding wheel will cut through paint and rust. Refinish the spot by sanding again with metal sanders ranging from 40 grit to 180 grit for the smoothest finish under the new paint.

4. Sand Down to Bare Metal to Remove Tiny Rust Spots

Use a dual action sander, which moves from side to side rather than in circles like an orbital sander, to remove paint over rust that has not penetrated the metal. Start off with sanding medium on your sander of 60 to 80 grit and resand with 120, 150 and 180 grit to create an immaculate finish.

5. Chemical Paint Removers

You can purchase a small container of chemical paint stripper from an auto parts supply shop and use it precisely according to the instructions to remove paint from the edge of a door, a bumper or other very small spot. Apply the stripper and cover the spot with painters tape and a plastic film shroud for 20 minutes to half an hour. Peel off the plastic film and scrape the spot with a putty knife. Sponge off the spot with clear water, and dispose of the film and sponge as hazardous materials. Sand the spot, and apply touch-up paint.

6. Car Polish to Remove Scratches Made by Another Vehicle

If your car suffers a scratch that leaves another car's paint on it, touch up the spot with a thick application of a high-quality car polish. The car polish will remove the topmost layer of paint, which is not your car's paint, revealing the original color beneath. Apply a layer of car wax to the spot and buff until smooth.