How to Paint an Old Car Over Existing Paint

January 27, 2024

A fresh coat of paint can make an old car look new again and increase its resale value. But what if the existing auto paint on your classic is in bad shape? Is it worth the time and money to strip off and repaint everything? In this article, we'll take a closer look at the pros and cons of painting over existing auto paint to help you decide whether or not it is a good idea.

Generally speaking, it is possible to paint over existing paint if it is in good condition and you properly clean and prep it for the new coating. This includes thoroughly sanding the surface, removing any imperfections and using the appropriate amount of time to ensure you have a quality base layer for your final coat. If you use a good quality catalyzed paint and allow the recommended drying time between coats, most modern coatings will adhere to most existing auto paint quite well.

However, if your existing finish is cracking, checking, peeling or otherwise delaminating, it would be best to strip down to the metal and start over. This is especially true if you intend to put a pearl or metallic coating over the finish. In these cases, the original clear will likely break thru and ruin any new coats of finish on top of it. It is also important to note that if your existing finish has a lot of body work done on it, especially in the clearcoat, you will probably want to sand and feather out the areas you are spraying over and prime them before painting. This is a standard practice in most body shops today when doing repairs on newer cars.

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