Quick Automotive Paint Prep Part Removal Tips

You may be starting to understand by now that automobile painting consists of a series of stages. When combined these stages produce a quality paint job that looks fantastic, feels smooth and flawless, adheres securely and has lasting durability.

The outcome of any stage is determined by the result of the previous stage. Poor work at any stage will affect the end result.

You MUST make sure you complete each stage of the painting process to the very best of your ability. If you make a mistake, don’t pass over it, go back and correct it.

Don’t rush any of the stages, always keep the end goal in mind; a professional looking paint job that you will be genuinely proud of for years to come.

Surface Preparation Defined:

Surface Prep involves those jobs that get surfaces ready for paint.

They include:

* Dismantling Parts
* Removing Old Paint and Rust
* Applying Primer Material
* Finish Sanding
* Cleaning Surfaces with Wax & Grease Remover and Tack Cloths.

Experienced auto painters and automotive enthusiasts can always detect if a vehicle has been repainted.

It should be the desire of all auto painters therefore to perform such a thorough and meticulous paint job that nobody has any idea the vehicle has been near a spray paint gun, unless it’s an obvious and outlandish custom paint job.

Tiny amounts of paint overspray that manage to get onto window moldings, door handles or light assemblies are giveaway signs that a vehicle has been worked on.

A closer inspection of the vehicle surface may also reveal some sanding scratches that would indicate that some degree of bodywork has been performed.

A buyer may suspect that the vehicle has possibly been involved in an accident and the damage repaired. Whatever he/she believes to be the reason; the car will no longer be so attractive to buy.

To make sure that no overspray is able to accumulate anywhere on your vehicles accessories and trim, it would be a sensible option to start by detaching or peeling off, anything that gets in the way of painting the basic surface of the car.

This will even include removing some larger pieces such as plastic bumpers that should be painted separately and reinstalled on the repainted body later.

This allows for controlled and thorough body preparation and is the best way to prevent overspray concerns and paint build-up along the edges of trim.

Don’t risk breaking parts when willing assistance is readily available.

You can also get the information you need from a factory repair manual for the make and model of the vehicle you are working on. You should be able to obtain one of these for a late model vehicle from a dealership.

You should also be able to pick one up from an auto part store, if all else fails browse around on the Internet for one.

Before you buy, flip through it and make sure it has the required information that you need. These manuals are very handy to keep for any future problems you may encounter.

It won’t take you long to see the benefits of removing vehicle accessories and parts. This stage is completed much faster than masking, however don’t rush through it. Have a sensible plan ready for removing and storing each item.

Large boxes work well for this. It is simple to label the boxes for each section of the vehicle. Put screws, bolts and nuts back on the part it came from once you remove it so you’ll know exactly where they are when it’s time to put everything back onto the vehicle.

Once you get trim strips off, it’s best to remove all the clips. Put them and any other fasteners or small parts groups, in zip-lock plastic bags or smaller marked cardboard boxes and store them in the same place as other items from your project.

We now wish to focus more on: Vehicle Trim and Accessories.

You will find that most of the accessories and parts from a vehicle including door handles and mirrors are secured in place with screws, nuts or bolts.

Some newer model vehicles use adhesives to hold the emblems, badges and trim in place. It is a good idea to examine each item before you try to take it off so you can determine exactly how it is mounted. You don’t want to have to buy new to replace broken pieces.

If you want to replace them after painting, however, get new ones, with fresh adhesive, from the dealer.

You will find that some door handles can be removed by loosening a heavy duty screw found horizontally across from the handle on the edge of the door.

Other door handles are secured by a couple of screws or nuts; you will need to access these from inside the inner door cavity. To gain access to the handle support you’ll need to take off the interior door panel.

Interior door panels are usually secured either with screws or clips. If you can’t find any screws around the perimeter of the panel then it is likely it is held in place with plastic clips fastened securely into retainer mounts.

You can easily pull them loose. Before you do, make sure you remove the armrests and window and door handles first.

After you have removed the interior door panel, you will see a piece of plastic or similar material between the panel and the door skin. This is the vapor barrier.

It is designed to prevent water from entering the vehicle after it has leaked past window trim moldings.

It is very important that you don’t damage vapor barrier. It’s very easy to simply roll them up to the top of the door and tape them away safe.

For light assemblies, these are generally secured with screws found on the back of the housing assembly. You can remove the rear light units from inside the trunk area or by pulling them out from the outside.

Grilles can be a little trickier to remove. Look for screws around the perimeter of the grille section. Entire grille assemblies are usually made up of a series of parts which can be removed as one unit so long as you remove the correct screws.

Most grilles have parts that are held together with clips that you would have to remove also.

It’s important to leave the headlights in if possible; this will prevent the current light beam setting from being disturbed. If you need to remove them however, remember not to touch either of the screws that have springs underneath them.

These are the directional adjustment screws that adjust the headlights in all directions.

You shouldn’t have any problems removing the bumpers on older vehicles; they have support bolts which are easily located.

Newer car bumpers aren’t as easy. Take your time when removing a bumper from a vehicle and get help if you need it due to these parts often being quite heavy.

You definitely don’t want a bumper to fall on you while you are under the vehicle loosening the bolts so take the proper precautions.

If you will be painting the door edges then you are going to have to remove the weather stripping. You’ll need to take a closer look at it first to see how it is secured into place.

Sometimes you will find that it is held in place using adhesive, therefore an adhesive remover will have to be used.

It may appear to be substantial enough to be pulled straight off however, it is better to be safe than sorry and opt for the adhesive remover.

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How To Properly Clean Your Automotive Spray Gun

A very important point to remember is that spray paint guns need to be consistently cleaned and maintained every time you use them so they will continue to work properly.

Very small air and material passageways can become clogged very easily by bits of dry paint and debris and it can be very difficult to clear such blockages.

You MUST, form the habit of cleaning your spray gun after every single use.

Each spray paint system will have specific cleaning solvents allotted as part of the entire paint system. Make sure you check with an auto body paint and supply store worker to find out the correct cleaning solutions to use with the system that you are using.

Professional body shops use special enclosed cabinets for spray gun cleaning. Solvent is forced through the gun’s assembly under pressure while the trigger unit is maintained in an open position.

When you’re about to start the process of cleaning your spray paint gun, put on rubber gloves and a respirator. You should always wear rubber gloves and a respirator any time you are handling thinners, reducers, hardeners or any other paint products that contains chemicals.

Personal safety should always be paramount.

If you don’t have access to a cleaning cabinet, fill your gun cup partially full with solvent (thinner). Next, swish it around and then empty it. This will remove the majority of the remaining paint product.

Then, refill the cup again using clean solvent and this time spray it through the unit. This will clean out the inner passageways.

You will then want to fill the cup approximately 1/4 full with clean solvent and spray it through the unit once again. Make sure you then clean the cup thoroughly.

Next, spray further clean solvent through the gun head and make sure nothing but perfectly clean solvent comes out, this will tell you that you have gotten everything out.

Once you are sure the interior ports and passageways are clear, run clean, dry air through the unit to remove deposits of solvent.

There are brushes available designed specifically for spray paint gun cleaning, especially for the housing, air caps and other parts.

Under no circumstances use a sharp object to clear a clogged air cap or port. By not following this rule, you can place small scratches on spray gun parts that will interfere with its spraying performance.

To finish on; use a clean cloth dampened with the appropriate solvent, to remove paint drips and splashes from exterior surfaces.

Always hang or place your paint gun in a vertical position for proper storage once you have dried it with a clean cloth.

Spray Paint Gun Maneuvering

Realize that having a good quality spray paint gun and paint are essential to completing a professional looking paint job but they are not everything. The way you apply the paint is equally as important.

You should always hold a paint gun at right angles to the surface being painted from a distance of 6-10 inches. You will need to check what the recommendation for your particular spray paint gun is.

If you can’t achieve this by standing then you will have to use step ladders for high up areas or kneel down for lower areas. This will prevent excess paint build-up causing runs and dry spots. Your free hand should be holding the air hose to keep it away from surfaces you are painting.

If you tilt the spray gun toward the surface it will result in a non-uniform fan pattern and don’t use the spray gun in an arc or else the paint will be applied in varying thicknesses to the surface; with paint going on wetter and thicker where the nozzle is closer to the surface and drier and thinner where it is farther away.

If the outer layers of thick, wet paint dry before the underlying layers, the solvent evaporating from beneath will leave imperfections in the finish.

At the far end of the arc the paint will be applied too thinly to provide adequate coverage or it may be too dry by the time it hits the surface. The result will be something that resembles overspray rather than a proper coating of paint.

The only time painters would arc the spray gun is on small spot repaints. These spots call for full coverage in the center and less paint around their feathered perimeter as it blends with the existing paint. Practice this technique on a test panel before attempting it on your vehicle.

Automobile roofs, hood and trunk lids lie in the horizontal plane. This means that you should hold the paint gun horizontally when making smooth, even and uniform passes.

Depending on your height and location of some panels, you may have a hard time reaching the middle of some larger panels. You would be well advised to remove the panel in order to be sure you get an even coat.

As shown in ‘How to Paint a Car‘ – VIP course, the body parts being painted in the spray booth upon holding racks makes the job for the painter a lot easier.

Referring to the car hood, once the painter has painted up to the middle of the hood he walks around to the other side and continues painting until the hood is finished.

In doing so, there is no chance that by leaning over the panel he will accidentally catch the freshly painted surface with an item of his clothing, thereby leaving blemishes on the surface.

To prevent paint from dripping on the panel being painted, it would be a wise move to apply tape around the top of the cup to hold the lid firmly in place.

Depending on the design of your spray gun and the paint cup, this may not be necessary. The paint cup may attach itself to your gun by screwing it from its base.

If this is the case, tape around where the two meet once the cup is screwed in tightly. This is a good idea even for those spray guns that are advertised as never to drip.

Hold the paint gun so that the nozzle is perpendicular to the surface. This is very important. Do whatever it takes to ensure a right-angle position. Moving from one panel to another in a smooth, steady and even walk will take practice to get it right, so make sure you do indeed practice using your test panel or paper.

Your fan spray should overlap the previous spray by half. The center of the first pass should be directed along the masking line with half of the paint on the masking paper, the other half on the body surface.

The second pass should be directed so that the top of the fan rides along the masking line. Each pass should then overlap the previous one by half, maintaining each pass at the same speed and at 6-10 inches away from the surface.

Start by painting the edges of an area first and then the main surface. This way overspray will help to cover the main area where you can then apply less paint if necessary.

If you apply paint at the appropriate thickness first to the main surface and then paint the edges, the extra paint from the overspray may cause imperfections on the main surface.

If you decided not to practice applying paint onto an old test panel, you may discover runs and flaws when you come to inspect your work. Runs are the result of too much paint being applied to a surface at any one time.

You may be holding the paint gun too close to the surface or fanning the spray too slowly. Whichever mistake you are making, make adjustments to your application until the paint is smooth and even.

As shown several times throughout ‘How to Paint a Car‘ – Part 1, you must remember to use wax and grease remover to remove all surface contaminants before the application of any stage in your paint system.

It doesn’t matter if you are painting a small or large area. You must then spray the entire surface with an air hose to dry the surface, making sure that no wax and grease remover or any other moisture is left on the surface.

How to Reduce Pollution when Spray Painting a Vehicle

It is clear to us all that our planet is becoming more and more polluted over time and this has propelled various government agencies and research institutions to start taking the necessary steps to reduce the amount of new pollution as well as reduce the amount we already have in the environment.

The automotive paint industry is a field of concern because of the methods of applying automotive paint and has had to abide by these same emission standards.

If automotive paint was applied by a brush or roller then the level of concern wouldn’t be as apparent.

However by thinning paint by the use of solvents, making it possible for it to be sprayed onto surfaces easily, allows for a great deal of these harmful solvents to escape into the atmosphere not only from paint overspray but also from solvent evaporation (after paint is sprayed, the solvents must evaporate so that the paint can dry and solidify).

Lacquer paints contain lacquer thinner and enamel paints as well and urethanes contain reducers. You may be surprised to read that any gallon of paint can contain anything up to 90% solvent!

Unfortunately the types of solvents used in automotive paints are composed of volatile (evaporate easily) organic compounds (VOCs).

The types of organic compounds in traditional auto paint solvents react with other molecules in the air such as nitrous oxides resulting in the production of ozone, ozone being one of the main causes of smog.

To comply with government regulations, body shops use high-tech paint booths complete with downdraft ventilation systems. Each booth must be equipped with special filtering systems that will burn off or filter out the VOC’s.

Government agencies, auto paint manufacturers, auto painters and paint equipment companies have addressed the problem of VOC’s, paint overspray and material waste as contributing factors to atmospheric pollution and are therefore currently looking for a solution to this pollution problem.

One effective solution to help reduce the amount of VOC and paint overspray pollution significantly involves using a high volume spray with low pressure, referred to as High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP).

This process results in more paint sticking to the vehicles body and less overspray than conventional spray paint systems. In principle, with more of the materials sticking to the sheet metal surface, less is released into the atmosphere.

The early HVLP spray paint systems incorporated a turbine system that replaced the conventional air compressor. This concept wasn’t widely accepted thanks to the turbine system causing the air pushing the paint onto the vehicle to be too hot. The result was the paint dried too fast.

A better solution was to develop a HVLP spray paint gun to use in conjunction with a conventional air compressor. The concept was familiar to experienced painters. It also justified purchasing an air compressor for the novice.

HVLP works by increasing the amount or volume of paint that can pass evenly through the spray gun’s ports and nozzle. This means a low amount of pressure is only needed to propel the paint material.

The result is paint being given a better chance at sticking to the surface of the vehicle and up to 50% less material being wasted as overspray. Since the cost of paint material is expensive, a quality HVLP spray gun will more than pay for itself in just a few paint jobs.

This reduction in overspray is very important to any part-time auto painter who is working out of his home garage or workshop.

It is recommended that a HVLP spray gun has an air pressure of 10 psi at its tip. Don’t confuse this with the air pressure at the inlet of the spray gun where the hose connects. The inlet pressure may sometimes need to be near 60 psi to obtain the right tip pressure; this will of course depend on the design of the spray gun.

A spray gun may be classified as siphon feed or gravity feed in addition to being either a conventional or HVLP model. A siphon fed gun has a paint cup that is mounted below the air nozzle. The design requires more air pressure in order to get the paint out of the cup.

A gravity fed spray gun has a paint cup that is mounted above the air nozzle to allow gravity to do some of the work for the air pressure. The result is that a lower inlet of air pressure is required.

Paint manufacturers are always looking for ways to develop new paint products to reduce the amount of VOC’s entering the atmosphere.

Waterborne paint products are in the works for this very reason, using water to transfer the paint through the gun onto the car reduces the need for solvents that contain VOC’s, however these types of paint products are still not widely used for a variety of reasons.

Durability issues remain. Paint manufacturers are working hard to develop automotive paints that can be mixed with water for spraying and that have the durability needed for the final top coat.

Many of today’s cars have a waterborne color coat but it is covered with a solvent borne enamel clear coat for added durability.

Waterborne paints are also sensitive to humidity during their application. Humidity controlled spray booths had to be used and carefully controlled when spraying the first waterborne paints.

To ensure you are fully aware of the regulations at all times, stay in contact with your local auto body paint and supply store. The staff will get to know quickly about important changes that have taken place in regard to industry standards.

They will also have access to the most current information sheets on the various paint products, materials and compatible systems, including those for older vehicles in need of touch up.

For your benefit, the manufacturers of most paint products are responsible for making their products environmentally safe as well as user-friendly. The manufacturers of such products continually work to reduce the amount of VOC’s in the various products.

There is not a lot that you can personally do to reduce the amount of VOC’s in the actual paint itself, it is very important therefore that you follow the laws regarding the proper use and disposal of these products.


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