Common Car Paint Problems & How to Fix Them

Car paint problems are a burden for shop owners and auto enthusiasts alike. These can be costly problems due to having to repaint repairs or an entire vehicle. The good news is that, with the proper preparation and technique, they can be avoided. The other good news is that most of them can also be fixed.

Here are some of the most common automotive paint problems and how to prevent and fix them.

Common Paint Problems

Car Paint Bubbling or Fish eye

Fish eye is a common misfortune that many body shops face. It's a term used to describe car paint bubbling and results from poor surface prep and cleaning prior to paint application. If a car's surface isn't clean, the paint can't properly bond and consequently will bubble.

How to avoid it:
The best way to prevent fish eye is to thoroughly clean and prep the vehicle before painting it. Use a grease remover to eliminate traces of oil and be sure to thoroughly sand the vehicle prior to painting.

How to fix it:
Fish eye usually can be fixed by sanding and repainting the affected area. There are also fish eye eliminator products available such as the Marson Smoothie II.

Orange peel

When a spray gun sprays paint unevenly, it can cause the paint to take on an uneven appearance that resembles the texture of an orange.

How to avoid it:
Proper painting technique will help to prevent orange peel. Make sure to hold the gun at a proper distance and at a right angle to achieve the best finish possible. In addition, you'll want to check the pressure of the spray gun and make sure it's properly assembled to ensure an even finish.

How to fix it:
Usually, orange peel only can be fixed by wet sanding, polishing and repainting the affected area.

Car paint fading

Over time, a vehicle's finish may fade due to exposure to the sun and other elements.

How to avoid it: Aside from parking in a garage or carport, keeping up with washes can do wonders for a car's finish. Make sure to keep up with waxing as well to preserve as much of the color as possible.

How to fix it: To fix faded car paint, you can attempt to restore the vehicle's finish by using a clay bar to remove dirt and oxidation, then polishing the surface to bring back the shine.

Mismatched paint color

You think you got the color right, but after close examination you realize it's slightly off-base. So, what do you do?

How to avoid it:
An easy solution for mismatched paint is to make sure the paint you buy is factory matched to the vehicle. Look for the vehicle's color code inside the driver's side door jamb, then order paint that's matched to the color code.

IMPORTANT - due to natural fading a factory match color may sometimes have to be adjusted to match the faded paint of the vehicle being repaired. This is usually not an issue if you are painting an entire vehicle.

Affordable color matching tools can save you lots of money by helping to ensure an accurate match before you paint.

How to fix it:
The only way to fix a mismatched paint job is to repaint the affected area with factory matched color.


Painting over a finish, only to have the original color bleed and show through, is incredibly frustrating. Fortunately it's avoidable if you take the right precautions.

How to avoid it:
To prevent bleeding, make sure you thoroughly clean the surface before sanding. You should take extra precaution if you plan on painting the vehicle lighter than its original color.

Next, apply a quality primer/sealer before using the new color on the vehicle to protect the old finish from bleeding through. The key word here is "quality" -- low-quality products produce low-quality results.

How to fix it:
To fix bleeding, you can isolate the area with a quality sealer and primer. You can also remove the paint and refinish with a high-quality primer and top coat.

Auto Paint Tips

Most car paint problems can be avoided by using quality paint products and painting techniques in the shop. Here are some general car paint tips to keep in mind before attempting to paint a vehicle:

Preparation: Make sure your paint booth is appropriately ventilated and cleaned before beginning the painting process. In addition, you'll want to thoroughly clean the vehicle and remove any signs of rust prior to painting.

Spray gun: Keep your spray gun clean and make sure it's set at the proper pressure before painting. Make sure the correct nozzle is used and hold the gun at an appropriate distance to achieve the best results.

Materials: Always use the correct hardener, thinner and film thickness when painting. Follow all instructions from the paint manufacturer as they may vary amongst different brands

Timing: Always stick to the recommended flash-off and drying times.

Automotive paint issues can hamper your productivity and profitability, so the best way to tackle them is by preventing them from happening in the first place. Utilizing proper preparation and painting technique will help reduce the likelihood of paint defects.

Investing in quality painting supplies will help decrease the likelihood of car paint problems. At Auto Body Toolmart, we stock a vast assortment of top-notch products like the 3M Perfect-It™ III Paint Finishing System Kit and factory matched color paint designed to help you achieve a flawless finish. Shop our automotive paint and primer today.



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