Car Paint Repair: How to Remove a Car Paint Transfer

  • 2-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 15-50
What You'll Need
Soapy water
Lacquer thinner
Lint-free cloth

Undertaking a project that includes car paint repair needs a few good techniques to assure a good finish. Dealing with pint on cars is not just about the spot, line or area involved, but a large part of the surrounding area. There are 2 types of paint transfer: the accidental transfer or the deliberate transfer. A transfer is a painted pattern, decal or shape which is painted over the top of the existing painted surface, whereas another type of transfer could have happened with accidental contact with another vehicle, which will transfer some paint from it to yours. Either way, removing it is the same basic technique.

Step 1 - Prepare

You need to prepare the area properly and make sure that you have the right paint color match for the car. It seems like a simple task and if you are not overly concerned with the condition of the finish, then you can just repair it as such, but if you want a showroom finish, do the job properly. Clean the whole area thoroughly with soap and warm water, using a sponge. Dry the area with the lint free cloth.

Step 2 – Lacquer

It is vital that you apply lacquer thinner and not paint thinner otherwise you will cause severe damage to the paint on your vehicle that you wish to look after. Apply a small amount of lacquer thinner to the lint-free cloth and gently rub it onto the affected area. If the transfer you are removing is a small scratch caused by another painted surface, then just apply the lacquer thinner to that area. If the transfer is an old painted decal or picture, apply lacquer thinner to the whole area, but work in small parts of the transfer in increments. Do not cover the whole decal with lacquer thinner at once. Rub the lacquer thinner into the area and you should start to see paint color moving from the car onto the lint free cloth.

Step 3 – Removal

Apply more lacquer thinner if needed and rub until the all the paint has been dissipated. Keep the lacquer thinner away from the other painted areas of the car, if you can. Or at least minimize any contact with the surrounding paint.

Step 4 – Cleaning

Once you have removed all the excess transferred paint, wipe with a damp cloth to remove excess lacquer thinner and then wash the area with the sponge dipped in the soapy water. Dry with a clean, lint-free cloth and check over the area of the paint where the transfer was. If it is all gone, then you can buff the area to a shine with polish. If there is any signs of residual transfer paint, use a little more lacquer thinner just on that part. You may have to rub harder if it is particularly stubborn, but it should come off after a while. Polish the area and recheck.