How to Prep a Car for Paint: Best Auto Painting Tips

How to Prep a Car for Paint

So, you want to get rid of the old paint from your vehicle and make it look new. Since professionals charge a lot to repaint your vehicle, you end up thinking, “Hey, what if I could do it all myself? I could save myself a lot of time and money if I do it myself… But how do I do it?” Upon getting asked that question by your own mind, you search the internet for a solution and land on this article. Well, let’s not waste your time assuming situations that probably never happened (kudos to us if they did, ‘eh?) and dig right into the article. We are about to tell you all you need to know about repainting your vehicle. However, before we start off, we should tell you a little bit about how to prep a car for paint.

You see, as much as repainting a car is important, there are several steps that accompany it. These are: 

 1- Sanding

 2- Priming

 3- Painting

You might be new to these terminologies but all the experts and professionals know the importance of them. The pre-painting phase includes the first two steps and then appears the main step; painting. So, as important is the painting step, the preparatory steps are even more important. Make sure that before you ask the question “how to repaint your car”, you always ask “how to prep a car for paint” before that.

Without wasting any more time, let’s take a look at the pre-painting steps and relevant auto painting tips we have for you:


The first step to prepping a car for painting is sanding. Although many people would argue that cutting is the first step, it does not matter much. Cutting is not really mandatory as sanding can compensate for it. Sanding is a process in which the layer of paint is removed to expose the bare metal behind it. 

Why is sanding important?

Sanding car to bare metal is a really important step since it allows for the paint to be applied properly on the lowermost layer. This helps the paint to be applied better and blend in properly since no trace of old paint is left behind. Therefore, sanding is one of the most important of painting. If you start painting without sanding, chances are you will end up having an imbalanced mixture of paints. The paint on old cars usually doesn’t blend in properly with modern paints.

What sandpaper to use on car?

A 1200-grit paper is an ideal choice for sanding a car. It helps remove the old paint and primer quickly.

How to sand a car for primer?

Sanding a car is a really time-taking step. However, it is worth all the time since the outputs are great as compared to painting a car without sanding. The steps included in sanding a car for primer are as follows:

1- Ensure that you have the right sandpaper. A 1200-grit paper is perfect for sanding a car completely.

2- Gently scrub the sandpaper against the part you want to remove the paint off.

3- If there are any scratches, press the sandpaper against it lightly to remove them off.

4- Go through the entirety of your car body and pass the sandpaper through them while gently pressing it to take off the paint.

5- Ensure that no paint or primer is left behind and all you have on your car is bare metal.

In order to check for primer, see the glossy surfaces. If there are any glossy surfaces on your vehicle, your sanding process is going well.


Assuming that you have finished sanding (sanded? sund?) your vehicle properly, it is time to move on to priming. Vehicle folks would immediately recognize what priming means since it is a derivative of the word “primer”. The process includes applying a primer on the bare metal surface.

What is a primer?

Primer is a coating or a compound usually placed on the metal surface to help paint it better.

Why is priming important?

Priming is really important in the preparatory phase for painting since, as explained before, it helps make the painting step both easier and efficient. Primer creates a barrier between the surface and the paint and the paint sticks on the primer which is efficiently designed to hold it together better and spread it evenly across the surface. Consequently, the paint spread is really smooth and neat. However, painting it directly on the metal surface would result in some inconsistencies, hence rendering priming really high importance.

How to prime your car?

1- Priming your vehicle is really easy. You just have to follow the following steps and you will be done in no time:

2- Ensure that you have a high-quality primer and not a fake rip-off. Choosing the right primer is essential for your vehicle’s painting step since it will make the process way better and easy for you.

3- Cover the areas of your vehicle that you are not going to prime with a newspaper or with something else.

4- Start priming your vehicle carefully and calmly. It is pretty easy to do so.

5- Typically, you will need to prime your vehicle at least twice to ensure that all metal surfaces are properly covered.


Upon reaching this step, you have officially stepped out of “how to prep a car for paint” question and stepped into the “how to paint your vehicle” one. Worry not, we will cover this one too despite the name of the article.

What do you need to check before painting?

There are some prerequisites to ensure before you start painting:

1- Check that your vehicle is properly primed. It is important to check for this since the primer application needs to be perfect before you start painting as it would really make a mess if it isn’t.

2- Ensure that all parts of the vehicle which you do not want to be painted are covered properly.

How to repaint your car?

Well, the final moment is here folks, and it is as easy as saying “Hugh Jackman”. Although it is not as quick as saying that but it is pretty easy.

In order to paint your car, ensure first that it is primed properly. When you know that it is, grab the hose and start spraying paint over the vehicle slowly. It will automatically adjust itself to be evenly spread over the surface since the paint particles are charged and can not lie on top of each other. However, if you keep on spraying just one surface, it will bring really bad results, so… just avoid doing that.

That was all we had on how to prep a car for paint if you would like to learn more about driving and driving-related techniques, check out Easy Driving Test! Our unique question-answer system helps you test your knowledge as well as learn new things related to driving!

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