Repairing Clear Coat (6 Steps)

Image by John Lloyd via Flickr

Image by John Lloyd via Flickr

Repairing Clear Coat (6 Steps)


One day, you’re looking at your car in all of its glory, and the next, there are little bubbles appearing that will soon peel into puddle like designs of a bad matte paint job. This article will answer the questions of “how do we fix it” and “how can we fix it without breaking the bank”.

Repairing clear coat isn’t as difficult as it may initially seem. With the right tools, you can knock this job out in 6 simple steps for cheap. Let’s get started.

What will you need to perform a clear coat car repair?

Car Washing Materials

You will need two buckets, some car soap, and a microfiber cloth for washing your car using the two bucket method. This method is used by professionals to get the best clean possible for your car.

I recommend using Chemical Guys Mr. Pink, this has a balanced pH that you can be certain is excellent quality for your vehicle and it suds up nice on the area that you are cleaning for that extra confidence that you can see.

Another recommendation that I have is The Rag Company Microfiber Towels. The Rag Company is a well known and trusted brand that produces well-made microfiber towels of long-lasting quality. Regular paper products are no match for these microfiber towels and may create scratches and streak the section of the surface that you are working on.

A Respirator Mask

This is a very important item to have if you are doing anything in the realm of car detailing, sanding, or painting. This mask will protect you from the toxic fumes that will be occupying your workspace.

I recommend using Reusable Half Face Cover, NASUM 308. This listing comes with all you need to get the job started including the mask, safety glasses, and extra cotton pad filters!


You will need sandpaper in the 600-800 grit range for smoothing down rough edges and some sandpaper in the 1000 grit range for finishing such as 3M Wetordry Sandpaper, 32036 which comes in all different types of grit finishes and different size packs, enough to last you for any job to come.

Aerosol Clear Coat

The most important part of this project is the clear coat! You want to find something trustworthy and proven to get a flawless application, but something that doesn’t break the bank because this is a do it yourself project. Something such as USC SprayMax 2K Glamour High Gloss Aerosol Clear would do the job seamlessly. 

Polishing Compound

A good polish can be a game-changer when doing work on vehicles, especially older ones. Polish can turn a dull car into one that looks as if it could just be rolling off the lot!

If you don’t have a quality dual action polisher and good compounds and polishes, the Chemical Guys TORQX Random Polisher Kit is the kit to get. It has everything you need for polishing and it won’t break the bank.

The dual action polisher in this kit is ideal since it will stop spinning if too much pressure is applied. This will prevent you from burning through your freshly applied clear down to the base coat. It makes getting the best results easy and safe for a beginner.

The kit includes 2 compounds and 2 polishes. Compounds are more aggressive than polishes. You’d use these first to knock down the newly applied clear and then use the polish to get a glass-like finish.

The kit also includes a few different polishing pads. These pads are also can allow you to adjust the aggressiveness. Harder pads are more aggressive since they will give less to pressure. Softer pads are ideal for the final polish.


The last thing you need is some time. This is not a project that you want to rush, so choose a lazy weekend and put in some work. With all of the money that you’re saving, you won’t regret taking on this project.

How do you fix a clear coat on a car?

1. Start by cleaning the entire part of the affected area.

If there is a spot on the door panel, clean the entire door. Take a bucket of clean water and a bucket of water combined with the car soap of your choice. Wash the area thoroughly and dry the area completely with a microfiber cloth of your choice.

2. Inspect the area that is damaged.

Is the paint damaged or is it just the clear coat. If it is your paint that is peeling, the clear coat will not be the best option as you will need to paint a new coat of color as well.

3. Protect what needs protecting!

Use painters tape to use as protection for the repair area marking around what is affected including all delicate areas such as windows and mirrors. Take extra care in doing this, because you will run into more of an issue than what you bargained for.

Lay newspaper or garbage bags in a five-foot radius under the repair area, aerosol paints tend to move around quite a bit. 

Wear a respirator mask to avoid inhaling the toxic dust that will come from sanding and the fumes from the paint. 

Always wear safety goggles! When sanding, pieces can get loose and work its way into your eye.

4. Sand down the old clear coat.

Begin with a 600 or 800 grit sandpaper and buff down the rough edges of the old clear coat. Make sure to do a thorough job because this will set the tone for the whole clear coat repair process.

Repeat Step 1, to ensure that you will be painting on a clean area. 

5. Apply the repair clear coat.

Once the old paint surface is smooth and clean, you are ready to begin to spray the first coat of paint.

Spray the can approximately 6” parallel to the surface of the car, with 50% overlapping passes over the entire area to help achieve an even and complete application. You will need to have 3 light coats, with 10 minutes of dry time between each coat, and wait 48 hours before completing the last step.

6. Blend it out 

Once you have waited the 48 hours, you can begin blending. Use a 1000 fine-grit sandpaper with water to wet sand and smooth out the new clear coat, this will allow the clear coat to sit evenly on the area and look professional. Finish off with a polishing compound application, to add shine to the area.

Can you recoat a clear coat?

You can recoat over a clear coat, however, the results will not be the same as it would be if you sanded down the old paint and started over fresh. The combination of the remnants of the old clear coat, the old color, and no fresh base coat, will prevent the new clear coat from ever really locking in and creating a permanent fixation with the base. However, if you need to do it in a pinch, this will be fine, but do not go in having the idea that this will be a long term fix.

Why is my car’s clear coat damaged?

The clear coat on a car is the first line of defense for the car to the outside environment. Elements such as UV rays, road debris, old age, or factory mishaps, can be the culprit for the flaky look that most people begin to see on the hood of their vehicles.

UV rays combined with age can weaken the outer layer of clear coat and can further degrade into the paint color of your car. Road debris can cause scratches, scuffs, and damage deep into the clear coat layer, allowing the paint to peel up easily around the damaged area.

Factory mishaps are uncommon, but they still happen, for example, the misjudgment of drying time between the color coat and the clear topcoat. 

Can a clear coat be repaired?

A clear coat can be repaired. There are different versions of repair, ranging from a garage repair to a multitude of different DIY repair options. The DIY option that is provided to you here is a tried and true repair method with results comparable to the body shop option, with a fraction of the cost.

How much does a clear coat repair cost?

If you were to take a vehicle to a repair shop to apply a clear coat by a professional, you would find yourself spending anywhere from $500-$5000. The price will be determined by the condition of the area that needs to be repaired and the total amount of peeling evidence.

A small area of peeling clear coat could cost you in the $500-$1000 price range and multiple peeling clusters over several different body panels would tally up to anywhere between $1500-$5000.

If you find that the whole car has a peeling clear coat, most body shops would request to do a full paint restoration along with a base coat, a fresh coat of paint, and the car clear coat, this is due to there most likely being a defect in the paint that was used. 

If you were to repair the peeling clear coat at home and use the following instructions, you can save money, not have to give up your car for weeks, and not risk someone cheating you on the repair cost. 


This repair method should be used to fix small peeling clear coat sections and you should not expect it to last a lifetime without sanding down to the bottom and starting from scratch.

However, this project is worth your time if you have an obvious peeling section. This will also save you a lot of money now and down the road as it will stop the paint from continuing to peel up as fast.

A clear coat repair is something that can easily be accomplished with a good attitude, taking the proper safety precautions, and getting a quick technique to brush up. You can be as money cautious or professional as you want. Do one car or all of your cars. It’s ultimately up to you.

This repair won’t make your car brand new, but you can sure make it look the part!

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