A frequently asked question for our technical staff is, “I want to repaint my car; what’s the first step I should take?” Our reply is simple: “Clean it.” Perhaps that’s an oversimplification, but it’s nonetheless an important first step to achieving a high-quality paint job.
If you begin sanding or grinding on your car’s finish before first thoroughly cleaning the surface, you’ll in fact be pushing the contaminants deeper into the old paint surface. On most automotive repaints, when problems do occur, it can often be traced back to contaminants that were never fully removed early in the repaint process.
Automotive painting professional Terry Wright explains not only the importance of cleaning the surface, but also in using the right cleaners to get ALL of the impurities off the surface. For example, Wright explains, warm water and soap will do little to remove road tar from a car’s surface, so it’s important to identify the types of contaminants on the surface.
Simply assuming a “Final Wash” or “Wax & Grease Remover” solvent will get the job done will potentially have adverse results. So it’s best to use a variety of cleaners to clean the surface, primarily both a solvent based cleaner and a water based cleaner. Even using other cleaners like denatured alcohol and hot, soapy water to remove tree sap can prove beneficial in completely cleaning a car’s surface.
Terry demonstrates how different cleaners can clean some contaminants while leaving others nearly untouched. Using a multi-step cleaning process is key to getting the surface completely clean.