What Sandpaper Grit to Use for Car Sanding

“What sandpaper grit should I use?” is one of the most popular questions on every auto forum. It is important to choosing the right sandpaper grit for each task to avoid paint damage. There are a lot of different contradictory information online that can be very confusing and overwhelming especially for beginners who have never done any repair projects before.

After reading some of the posts, I found out that a lot of car enthusiasts are using the wrong grit. I saw some people were saying that they’ve used 600 grit or even 400 grit sandpaper to repair clear coat scratches. Big mistake! Sandpaper lower than 1,500 grit is too rough for the clear coat and will leave small scratches. (more…)

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Car Paint?

The cost of the car paint repair mainly depends on the severity of the damage. It can cost anywhere from $10 – $9,000. For each type of damage there is a different repair method and as a result the price can differ.  Although it is pretty difficult to give an estimate without seeing the damage, in this post I want to give you a rough idea of how much you can be in for.

Car finish has  4 layers: clear coat, paint, primer, and metal. Metal is covered with 2-3 coats of primer that protects it from rusting. Then you have 3-4 layers of paint and on top of the paint you have 2-3 layers of clear coat that protects paint from environmental contaminants and scratches.  Typically, the cost will be determine by size, severity and the location of the scratch. If there is a deep scratch that goes across the door, the body shop might have to repaint the whole panel.

Of course you have the option of  taking your car to the body shop or you fixing it yourself. Therefore, I am including body shop price and DIY price. You will also find a list of products needed and a short summary of the repair process. (more…)

What Is The Difference Between Car Wax & Paint Sealant

I’ve seen a lot of discussions about car wax vs paint sealant. Everybody wants to know what’s the difference between the two? Which product offers better protection? What should you use?

In this article, I want to answer all of the questions above and tell you how to apply wax and sealant the correct way. Let’s start by talking about how each of them works and what the pros and cons are. (more…)

7 Easy Ways to Remove Sap From Your Car

Parking under the trees might result in drops of sap all over your car. Tree sap, just like toxic bird poop, will eat through the layers of paint if left on the vehicle. The sun can make things even worse. It warms up the surface and expends paint allowing for the sap to get in. After the area around sap cools down, it is very hard to remove. The longer it sits, the more it hardens and adheres to the surface. Try to remove sap as soon as possible.

Since not every tree sap is the same, it might require a different method to remove. Pine tree sap is one of the hardest to get rid of. When using one of the methods below, make sure not to damage the paint.

1. Mineral Spirits. It is used for cleaning and degreasing machine tools and for thinning oil based paints, stains and varnishes. It is less flammable and less toxic than turpentine. Soak soft microfiber towel with some mineral spirits liquid and hold it for 30 sec over the sap. You want to avoid rubbing the paint around it. Mineral spirits will break up and dissolve the sap. After sap is removed wash the spot and re-apply wax/sealant.

2. Rubbing Alcohol. Like mineral spirits alcohol is also used to dissolve sap. This method is much safer for the car’s paint. Keep in mind that alcohol will also remove the wax, so you will need to re-apply it after sap is gone. Damp soft microfiber towel with alcohol and rub the spot. I would use smaller and less expensive microfiber towels for this project since there is a good chance you might not be able to get rid of the sap stains on your towel.

3. Nail Polish Remover. Hardened sap can be very difficult to remove. If alcohol didn’t work, try nail polish remover. Soak cotton ball with some nail polish remover and carefully rub the sap trying not to damage the paint around it. Nail polish remover can help soften hardened part of the sap. Use alcohol to remove the rest. Next, rinse off the area with a mix of 1 cup of baking soda to 3 cups of warm water. Dry it with microfiber towel and reapply wax.

4. Tarminator Grease and Sap Remover. Tarminator is a product that removes tar, wax, grease, bugs, and tree sap by breaking down the complex molecules and dissolving sticky materials. It is easy to use and works very fast without harming the paint. This product got 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Spray Tarminator into a soft microfiber towel and place it on top of the sap for 30 sec. Then easily wipe off the sap from the surface. For difficult sap, spray it directly onto surface and let Tarminator penetrate for a few minutes before wiping. After sap is gone, wash the surface and re-apply wax.

5. Automotive Clay Bar. Clay bar is used for removing grains of metal, tree sap, bird droppings, airborne environmental deposits and paint overspray. It instantly sticks-to and pulls-off contaminants stuck to the surface. I like this great Mothers California Gold Clay Bar Kit that comes with 2 clay bars, quick detailer, and microfiber towel. It is very inexpensive and paint safe. Over 100 consumers gave this product 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

After removing clay bar from its wrapper, knead and flatten it in the palm of your hand. Spray sap area with quick detailer. Glide clay over the lubricated area using light even pressure. It might take few rounds before sap is completely removed. Knead and fold the clay bar back onto itself after each round. Make sure to provide plenty of lubrication. Use soft microfiber towel to wipe off clay residue. Re-apply wax or sealant. Here is a demo video on how to use it.

6. Goo Gone. This is a liquid adhesive that removes grease, gum, sap, stickers, crayon and tape. It is great for removing fresh sap. Apply some of the Goo Gone to the microfiber towel and hold it over the sap for 20-30 sec. Gently wipe of the sap. If it is hard to remove, apply small amount of Goo Gone directly to the sap and let it sit for a few minutes. Then remove it with microfiber cloth. Wash the area and re-apply wax.

7. WD-40. This is all purpose lubricant that is used for protecting metal from rust and corrosion. It is also used to remove grease, grime, water deposits, adhesives, bugs, tar, sap and much more. WD-40 product is really amazing in and I think is a must have for each household. Spray a soft terry cloth with WD-40 and rub the sap area. It might take you few rounds. When all sap is gone, reapply wax.

Repairing The Damage

Like with the bird droppings, if the sap sits on the surface for too long, it will eat through the clear coat layers and then through the paint. If clear coat was damaged, you can just buff it with some rubbing compound. I like to use Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound. You can use any rubbing compound you want, just make sure it is clear coat safe. Place few drops of rubbing compound on the application pad and rub the area using circular motion. After the damage is not visible anymore the area might be a little dull. To restore the shine use a clear coat safe polisher.

If the paint layers have been damaged, you will need to use a touch up paint. You can easily touch up a small spot but if a panel of the car is covered with a lot of small spots you might have to re-paint the whole section. At his point you probably need to think if this is something you want to do yourself or leave it to a professional that will charge you hundreds of dollars.

Protecting Your Car From Sap

  • Don’t leave your car under trees. I know that it is easier said than done. But if there is a sunny spot with no trees around available, park there.
  • Every few month wax your car. I know that wax will not completely protect your car, but it will slow down the etching process.
  • Get a car cover. This is the easiest way to protect your car from sap, bird poop, snow and sun. Get a good quality one that is easy to use.

Let me know if you have any questions by using a comment box below.

~Mike Davis

P.S. If you like this article, please help me promote it by clicking “Like” button below.

How To Remove Bird Droppings and Bugs From Your Car

Although bird droppings and smashed highway bugs might not seam like a big deal, it can do a serious damage to the paint of the car costing hundreds of dollars in repairs. Because bugs and bird poop has a lot of acid in it, the longer it sits on the surface of the vehicle the deeper it eats through the finish.

Some birds and bugs (like gypsy moth, june bug, bees, aphids and etc.) are more damaging than others. Bird named “ka ka” is not only highly acidic, but also uses gravel to digest its food. As a result, there are tons of grit in its excrement that can easily scratch the paint when you try to wipe it off.

It turns out that bird poop is only a part of the problem. On the sunny day, the sun  accelerates the etching and warms up the surface of the car expending the paint and allowing for the bird poop to get in.

At the same time, the warmth of the sun dries out the bird poop making it hard. When the paint cools down, it contracts around the harden poop making it difficult to remove. So, it is not surprising to see etching after only a few hours.

To avoid serious damage you should remove bird droppings and smashed bugs as soon as possible. Don’t wait for the car to cool down like some car owners do. They think it is better to give it some time to air out. Big mistake! Car consists of 4 layers, metal, primer, paint and clear coat. When poop drops on the surface it slowly starts eating through them.

Removing Bird Droppings and Bugs

Place a microfiber cloth soaked with alcohol on top and let it pre-soak contamination. Avoid scratching the surface by rubbing the spot. Alcohol will neutralize the acid and soften the poop. If poop is too hard, try to soften it with microfiber towel and warm soapy water and then treat the spot with alcohol.

To remove the rest of the contamination, spray it with water. That is one of the reasons I always have a bottle of no salt seltzer water in my car. After taking the lid off plug the opening of the bottle with your thumb and shake it up well. Hard blast of water will wash off the droppings but will not harm your paint. If there are still some of the poop left, just repeat the steps.

Another thing you can do is fill a spray bottle with hot water and some dish soap and mist the spot for one minute and let it sit for about 5 minutes. At this point it should be easy to wipe off. Check the surface to see if there is any damage to the surface. If there is no damage, dry the area with clean microfiber towel and re-apply wax or sealant. If the paint was damaged, follow the steps below:

Repairing The Paint Damage

1. Light Clear Coat Damage. Even if you can’t fill anything with your fingers, a small cloudy spot might be still visible from certain angles. Light clear coat etching can be easily removed with some buffing. You will need a bottle of clear coat safe rubbing compound and a polisher.

  • For rubbing compound I like to use Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound. It is inexpensive, easy to use and doesn’t leave swirl marks. Place a small amount or rubbing compound on the application pad and rub the area using circular motion. You can also use a buffing machine. Remove residue with a clean microfiber towel. If the etching is still showing, you might need to repeat the process a few times.
  • To restore the shine, use polishing compound. I like Meguiar’s Ultimate Polish because it creates a showroom shine. Apply some of the polish to the surface and buff if with clean microfiber cloth by hand or use a buffing machine. Wipe off the residue and re-apply wax or sealant.

2. Medium Clear Coat Damage. If buffing was not enough, you’ll need to do some sanding.

  • Use automotive wet/dry 2,000 grit sandpaper. You can do wet or dry sanding. I like wet sanding much better because it doesn’t clog the sandpaper and cuts faster. Soak sandpaper in cold water for 10 min. Spray the area with water and lightly sand using back and forth motion. Wash off sandpaper after 3-4 sweeps.
  • After you are done, the area might be a little dull. You can easily restore the shine with some rubbing compound and a polisher.
  • As a final step re-apply wax or sealant.

3. Deep Paint Damage. Bird poop can eat through the clear coat layer and paint layer if left for too long. In this instance, you might need to use touch up paint. No need to panic. Treat this as a deep paint scratch. In order to repair it, you will need to sand the area, apply touch up paint, apply clear coat for paint protection, buff it with rubbing compound and a polisher.

  • Wet sand the area with wet/dry automotive 2,000 grit sandpaper using plenty of water. You should sand 1-2 inches around the damage for better blending.
  • Pick touch up paint depending on the size of the damage area. Touch up paint can come in a spray can, small bottle with a brush, or as a touch up pen. Small areas can be touched up with a pen. If the area is bigger than a pencil eraser, you need to use a bottled paint, and if it is larger than a dime it should be sprayed painted.
  • Apply thin coat of touch up paint to the surface. 2-3 coats should be enough. Wait for each layer to dry before applying the next one.
  • When all the paint layers are dry, apply 2-3 coats of clear coat.
  • Use clear coat safe rubbing compound to blend in the repair and follow it with a polish to restore the shine. Wait for 30 days to re -applying wax/sealant.

This is just a quick summery of things you need to do. But here you can find more details for each step.

Protect Your Car From Bird Droppings and Bugs

There isn’t much you can do about bugs, but there are few things you can do to protect your vehicle from birds.

  • Don’t park under trees. Many of you look for a shade on the sunny day to avoid getting into a 500 degree oven. But trees might not be the best idea since that is where all the birds like to hang out.
  • Apply wax every few months. Of course there is no wax in the world that can fully protect your auto from acidic bird excrement ,but it will create a barrier that will decrease amount of damage done to the paint.
  • Get a car cover. If you have to park your car outside every day, buy an easy to use cover. This car cover that I use will not only protect your car from bird droppings, but also from rain, snow, UV rays of the sun and tree sap.

Let me know if you have any questions. I am always happy to help.

~Mike Davis

P.S. If you like this article, please help me promote it by clicking “Like” button below.

Why Microfiber Is The Best Material For Auto Detailing

Lately, there have been a lot of conversations about microfiber and you are probably wondering what the buzz is all about. When detailing a car, many materials leave lint and swirl marks that is hard to remove without scratching the surface. Microfiber material can help you get the shine you want without damaging the clear coat of your car.

In my scratch repair tutorials, I always use microfiber towels for all of the detailing steps. A lot of people will probably think that buying a microfiber towel is a waste of money since the same job can be easily done with old t-shirts or washclothes. What they don’t realize is that cotton fibers of these materials are too rough and will leave small scratches on the surface of the car. Microfiber material is specially designed to remove dust, dirt and wax residues without damaging the clear coat. (more…)

How to Apply Body Filler and Spot Putty

These days cars are made with thinner materials than in the past and as result, even a slight impact can cause a damage to the body. Auto body filler is used to fill holes, dents and deep scratches in the body of the vehicle. Very often body filler is referred to as Bondo, which is really a product brand name manufactured by 3M. But since 3M was one of the first companies to produce body filler, it became known as Bondo.

Quality of the product varies depending on the brand. Some are easier to sand, have better adhesion and last longer but might cost a little more. Other cheaper products are harder to apply and can take hours of sanding. But no matter how much we dislike dealing with body fillers, there is no way around them if you are trying to fix auto body. (more…)

Where to Find Car Paint Color Code

It is important to find car paint color code before ordering a touch up paint. Some people think they can just look at their car and guess the color. Big mistake! Even if the colors seam the same, they might be in fact different. To get the right paint, you need to know the color code which can be found on the label somewhere inside of your car. (more…)

Car Paint Touch-Up

Car paint touch-up is an inexpensive and easy way to fix paint scratches and chips. We all try to keep our car looking shiny and new as long as we can after driving it off the dealership lot. But over time, those ugly scratches just keep adding up. Unfortunately, car paint scratches are a fact of life. The only sure way to protect your car is to put it in a garage and never drive it again. (more…)

Car Touch-Up Paint Types

When it comes to car touch-up paint, there are multiple options available for every type of damage. Small chips and scratches can be easily fixed with touch-up pens. Long and medium size scratches can be brushed with paint. Large areas can be fixed by using spray cans. If you are planning on re-painting a whole car or one of the auto body parts, you will need to buy larger quantities of paint and a spray gun.

No matter what touch-up paint you choose, make sure it is good quality. Because even if you do everything right, a cheap low  quality paint will not give you the professional result you are looking for. When I am buying paint, I want it to be high quality, but still affordable. One of the places I like is AutomotiveTouchUp site. They have best prices and a high quality paint that is custom mixed to perfectly match the original car color. (more…)