How to Remove Clearcoat Paint

  • 1-3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 77-100
What You'll Need
Work gloves
Face mask and safety goggles (optional)
Wet/Dry sandpaper
Clean water
Dry soft cloth
Rubbing compound
Touch-Up paint

Removing clearcoat paint is no piece of cake. Primarily, this is because the clearcoat is bonded to a vehicle's primary paint coat. Still, with time, patience, and the right tools and materials, you can remove it. How you remove, and to what degree you can restore it to its original condition will depend on the type of damage the clearcoat paint has sustained.

Things you'll need:

  • Wet/Dry sandpaper
  • Clean water
  • Dry soft cloth
  • Rubbing compound
  • Touch-Up paint

Tip 1 - Flaking, Chipped, and Lightly Scratched Clearcoat

Use wet/dry sandpaper to remove rough edges on the damaged clearcoat. First, wet the sandpaper, then sand the damaged spot with circular motions until you no longer feel an edge. Use a mild rubbing compound to remove any sandpaper scratches, then rinse off residue from the sandpaper and rubbing compound, and allow the surface to dry.

Tip 2 - Heavy Scratches

In situations where scratching has penetrated both the clearcoat and the base paint coat, you will need to not only smooth the edges of the clearcoat, but you will also need to use a matching paint to cover the damaged paint beneath the clearcoat. Use the above process for smoothing the clearcoat and use touch-up paint supplied by the manufacturer that will match the color of the damaged paint on your vehicle.

Obviously, remember to wear gloves and (if using a touch-up paint you spray onto the car) a face mask and safety glasses to keep your face and hands safe. Be sure to lay down newspaper and make sure any children or pets are out of the work area before you start applying the paint.