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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, this is my first post as I'm new here. I JUST bought a 1997 Dodge Intrepid last week as a "beater" car. But as I'm checking into everything that needs attention, this car is actually in REALLY good shape for its age. The paint is definitely shot, every single panel is faded and/or has the clear coat peeling off. It has oil leaks galore, pretty much every rubber bushing on the car is toast, but it actually runs and drives EXCELLENT. No check engine lights, no hesitating or poor performance. Even the heat and AC work great. The seller bragged about it being a low mile car since the odometer only reads 78k miles. I was skeptical thinking maybe the odometer was replaced at some point or something. But looking at the paperwork, and what all is worn (and what IS NOT worn), I now believe the miles to he accurate. This is actually a one owner car, they bought it in January 1997. The Carfax history seems to line up with the mileage, they didn't put very many miles on it each year. The interior is in IMMACULATE shape except for the headliner and a few minor cigarette burns on the driver's seat. Even the carpet is in excellent shape with no rips/wear holes or stains anywhere. Even the factory spare and Jack are still there.
Seems like this car must have been for an older couple who let it sit out in the weather for all these years and mother nature took a toll on the paint and all the rubber parts and gaskets.
But with the help if all of you guys here and your expert knowledge of these cars, I'm sure you will guide in in the right direction as far as repairs and procuring parts for this old gem.
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Hey guys, this is my first post as I'm new here. I JUST bought a 1997 Dodge Intrepid last week as a "beater" car. But as I'm checking into everything that needs attention, this car is actually in REALLY good shape for its age. The paint is definitely shot, every single panel is faded and/or has the clear coat peeling off. It has oil leaks galore, pretty much every rubber bushing on the car is toast, but it actually runs and drives EXCELLENT. No check engine lights, no hesitating or poor performance. Even the heat and AC work great. The seller bragged about it being a low mile car since the odometer only reads 78k miles. I was skeptical thinking maybe the odometer was replaced at some point or something. But looking at the paperwork, and what all is worn (and what IS NOT worn), I now believe the miles to he accurate. This is actually a one owner car, they bought it in January 1997. The Carfax history seems to line up with the mileage, they didn't put very many miles on it each year. The interior is in IMMACULATE shape except for the headliner and a few minor cigarette burns on the driver's seat. Even the carpet is in excellent shape with no rips/wear holes or stains anywhere. Even the factory spare and Jack are still there.
Seems like this car must have been for an older couple who let it sit out in the weather for all these years and mother nature took a toll on the paint and all the rubber parts and gaskets.
But with the help if all of you guys here and your expert knowledge of these cars, I'm sure you will guide in in the right direction as far as repairs and procuring parts for this old gem. View attachment 42039
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That is one of the cleanest 1st gens I've seen in a while! Love it! Take good care of it!
 

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1997 Dodge Intrepid
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That is one of the cleanest 1st gens I've seen in a while! Love it! Take good care of it!
This car isn't exactly as "clean" as it seems in these pictures. I noticed that the paint looks a LOT better in these pictures than it does in person. The paint on this car is in absolutely HORRIBLE condition. Every single panel has clear peeling or color fading, or BOTH. The roof is by far the worst. I'm surprised it looks so good in these pictures, it even look quite shiny in the pictures. But if you look VERY close, you can actually see the sections of clear peeling. But aside from the paint, yes this car is actually in pretty good shape especially for it's age. Too bad it wasn't garage kept, because the it would be in even better shape! I can tell the previous owner didn't drive it very much, but I can also tell that a lot of the wear and tear on this car is from weather and age.
 

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This car isn't exactly as "clean" as it seems in these pictures. I noticed that the paint looks a LOT better in these pictures than it does in person. The paint on this car is in absolutely HORRIBLE condition. Every single panel has clear peeling or color fading, or BOTH. The roof is by far the worst. I'm surprised it looks so good in these pictures, it even look quite shiny in the pictures. But if you look VERY close, you can actually see the sections of clear peeling. But aside from the paint, yes this car is actually in pretty good shape especially for it's age. Too bad it wasn't garage kept, because the it would be in even better shape! I can tell the previous owner didn't drive it very much, but I can also tell that a lot of the wear and tear on this car is from weather and age.
Well, the paint is kinda a Chrysler thing haha! A respray would do wonders
 

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This car isn't exactly as "clean" as it seems in these pictures. I noticed that the paint looks a LOT better in these pictures than it does in person. The paint on this car is in absolutely HORRIBLE condition. Every single panel has clear peeling or color fading, or BOTH. The roof is by far the worst. I'm surprised it looks so good in these pictures, it even look quite shiny in the pictures. But if you look VERY close, you can actually see the sections of clear peeling. ....
I've got the same issues with the clear coat starting to flake off since I've had to park outside for a while (quick fix to try temporarily below). If you are not already familair with it, the best way to deal with this before considering any sanding and repainting the clear coat is compounding and polishing (do a Google search). There are also lots of YouTube videos on this - search things like "faded paint" + polishing or compounding. To do it right, you really need an orbital polisher like the Porter Cable variable speed 6-inch polisher (~$125) and and a few different pads and 3M (or similar) professional compound and polishing liquids (not cheap). So if you don't have that stuff, it can get expensive. Obviously you can also get an estimate from an auto body shop for compounding and polishing; they can often work miracles on flaked clear coat and faded paint.

However, before you spend any money on all that, pick up a bottle of Meguiar's Ultimate Compound at Walmart or auto parts store. It will work with a cheap orbital buffer or even by hand, so it is worth a try. Then there is also just the cheap Turtle Wax polishing compound in the green tub, and other polishing compounds at the parts stores (NOT rubbing compound - too abrasive). There is a YouTube video (below) on this from mechanic Scotty Kilmer (funny guy) on using the Ultimate Compound, may be some other vids on it too.

Meguiars Ultimate Compound

How to Fix Faded Paint - Scotty Kilmer

Of course you've got to keep it regularly waxed after any compounding and polishing to protect the finish. Meguiar's and Mother's make good waxes, but some people also like Nu Finish.

By the way, there are also kits in the parts stores for polishing the headlights if yours are foggy/faded. Scotty also a few videos on what to do for faded headlights, and there are others about this on YouTube (don't paint them with any clear coat - doesn't last).

There are also lots of YouTube videos on actually repairing the flaking clear coat by wet standing and spraying with a rattle can clear coat, but it is obviously much more work than compounding and polishing. Be aware that lots of the YouTube videos on repairing/fixing flaking clear coat use the "2K" two-part clear coat, but that is dangerous stuff on your lungs. Just a regular 3M mask with organic vapor cartridges and safety glasses like they show in many videos is really not enough protection for that - it can get through your skin too. Much safer to use a one-part "1K" clear coat (a few reviewed on Amazon). It won't hold up as well, but you won't wreck your lungs. Also be aware that the common Dupli-Color "Perfect Match" rattle can paint and clear coat that a lot of the parts stores carry is old-style lacquer, and it can bubble and lift your paint unless you apply it over a primer sealer and color coat; you can't just use the Dupli-Color clear for clear coat repair without the risk of bubbling the paint. If you do wind up doing any clear coat wet sanding and painting, first practice on a small spot to see how it turns out before doing a large area.
 

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I've got the same issues with the clear coat starting to flake off since I've had to park outside for a while (quick fix to try temporarily below). If you are not already familair with it, the best way to deal with this before considering any sanding and repainting the clear coat is compounding and polishing (do a Google search). There are also lots of YouTube videos on this - search things like "faded paint" + polishing or compounding. To do it right, you really need an orbital polisher like the Porter Cable variable speed 6-inch polisher (~$125) and and a few different pads and 3M (or similar) professional compound and polishing liquids (not cheap). So if you don't have that stuff, it can get expensive. Obviously you can also get an estimate from an auto body shop for compounding and polishing; they can often work miracles on flaked clear coat and faded paint.

However, before you spend any money on all that, pick up a bottle of Meguiar's Ultimate Compound at Walmart or auto parts store. It will work with a cheap orbital buffer or even by hand, so it is worth a try. Then there is also just the cheap Turtle Wax polishing compound in the green tub, and other polishing compounds at the parts stores (NOT rubbing compound - too abrasive). There is a YouTube video (below) on this from mechanic Scotty Kilmer (funny guy) on using the Ultimate Compound, may be some other vids on it too.

Meguiars Ultimate Compound

How to Fix Faded Paint - Scotty Kilmer

Of course you've got to keep it regularly waxed after any compounding and polishing to protect the finish. Meguiar's and Mother's make good waxes, but some people also like Nu Finish.

By the way, there are also kits in the parts stores for polishing the headlights if yours are foggy/faded. Scotty also a few videos on what to do for faded headlights, and there are others about this on YouTube (don't paint them with any clear coat - doesn't last).

There are also lots of YouTube videos on actually repairing the flaking clear coat by wet standing and spraying with a rattle can clear coat, but it is obviously much more work than compounding and polishing. Be aware that lots of the YouTube videos on repairing/fixing flaking clear coat use the "2K" two-part clear coat, but that is dangerous stuff on your lungs. Just a regular 3M mask with organic vapor cartridges and safety glasses like they show in many videos is really not enough protection for that - it can get through your skin too. Much safer to use a one-part "1K" clear coat (a few reviewed on Amazon). It won't hold up as well, but you won't wreck your lungs. Also be aware that the common Dupli-Color "Perfect Match" rattle can paint and clear coat that a lot of the parts stores carry is old-style lacquer, and it can bubble and lift your paint unless you apply it over a primer sealer and color coat; you can't just use the Dupli-Color clear for clear coat repair without the risk of bubbling the paint. If you do wind up doing any clear coat wet sanding and painting, first practice on a small spot to see how it turns out before doing a large area.
Scotty looks like Geddy Lee.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Oh this paint is WELL beyond the point of saving it with compound and polish. The clear coat is oxidized and fading on the roof and trunk, and it's peeling on every other panel. It's literally peeling off in sheets. I suspect that's because pretty much every other panel has been repainted at some point. It's pretty obvious due to the overspray, especially on the bumpers. I see a small amount of paint over spray in the engine compartment, and around the tail light area. If I REALLY wanted to make it look better, I could probably pressure wash most of the clear coat off and just re-clear it . But to be quite honest, it's a 25yr old shitbox. I'm more concerned with it running and driving good and being a fairly reliable commuter car. As as it rides good, has good AC and heat, steers and handles well, and reliably runs and drives good and doesn't run hot or leak all the fluids out, then I'm happy with it.
I still have to do some work on the suspension, and looks like I'm gonna have to replace the oil pan gasket because it's got a decent sized leak.
 

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Scotty looks like Geddy Lee.
Yeah, he could be his brother. I think everyone knows that Scotty has a lot of oddball opinions on repairs, but some of his videos are hilarious (millions of subscribers just for the entertainment). But boy, does he hate the some of the recent Fiat Chrysler cars and trucks. I think there is one video where he goes off on all the new car brands to never buy these days - including Volkswagon and Fiat Chrysler and a few others. Mostly reliability issues obviously. He seems to like Honda and Toyota, but he criticizes them also on cars where they've had problems. I believe that he's mostly retired now (just dabbles), but probably has made a huge pile of money from YouTube. He's so famous that he's even got a Wikipedia page now.
 

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This car isn't exactly as "clean" as it seems in these pictures. I noticed that the paint looks a LOT better in these pictures than it does in person. The paint on this car is in absolutely HORRIBLE condition. Every single panel has clear peeling or color fading, or BOTH. The roof is by far the worst. I'm surprised it looks so good in these pictures, it even look quite shiny in the pictures. But if you look VERY close, you can actually see the sections of clear peeling. But aside from the paint, yes this car is actually in pretty good shape especially for it's age. Too bad it wasn't garage kept, because the it would be in even better shape! I can tell the previous owner didn't drive it very much, but I can also tell that a lot of the wear and tear on this car is from weather and age.
The paint may not be that bad. The clearcoat on my hood is almost completely flaked off, but that's the only place. I've been told that the clearcoat on these cars is really bad, but that the car can be polished out and clearcoat resprayed without needing to repaint. I haven't checked into it because I got a hood off the one Intrepid in one of the yards near me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The paint may not be that bad. The clearcoat on my hood is almost completely flaked off, but that's the only place. I've been told that the clearcoat on these cars is really bad, but that the car can be polished out and clearcoat resprayed without needing to repaint. I haven't checked into it because I got a hood off the one Intrepid in one of the yards near me.
Honestly, I might try that. Worst I can do is remove some of the pigment/base coat. But from the small amounts of overspray here and there, it looks like either this entire car was resprayed at one point, or else it's been in a few minor fender benders over the years and had nearly the entire car resprayed.I can clearly tell that at the very least, both the front and rear bumpers were repainted, along with both front fenders and both front doors, and "possibly" the hood. I can also see some overspray on the rear driver's side trunk gasket, that leads me to believe the rear quarter panel was probably painted at some point as well. These had to be minor enough fender benders that they didn't end up being reported to Carfax, because the ONLY thing that showed up on the Carfax report was some services and oil changes that were done over the years. Also, there's some minor damage on the rear driver's side quarter panel, looks as if someone scraped a pole or post or something while parking or backing up or something like that. Definitely not collision damage. So if the rest of the damage was like this, the owner probably had the scrapes and dings repainted as they happened over the years. And the mileages listed are consistent with someone who barely drives anywhere. That explains how it's 25yrs old and doesn't even have 79k miles on it yet. I've been daily driving it since I bought it in November and it just hit 79k.
 

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Honestly, I might try that. Worst I can do is remove some of the pigment/base coat. .......
Before doing any clear coat respraying, like I wrote you may be surprised at what can be done to repair the clear coat and faded paint with just either the super fine wet/dry auto sandpaper (say 3000 or 2500 to start), very-low abrasive compound, and the Meguiar's Ultimate Compound or something similar. You don't have to respray the clear coat at all to achieve decent results, or you can plan maybe to do that later (by yourself or body shop). After removing the areas of flaking clear coat and blending the edges of clear coat into the base coat, obviously waxing the car frequently with a quality wax will help a lot (not cheap Turtle Wax, which leaves streaks) . Lots of reviews of the good wax brands online like Meguiar's, Mother's; Nu Finish, etc.

There are actually dozens of those do-it-yourself YouTube videos like the one posted above as well as web pages with photos on removing flaking clear coat and polishig faded paint. Just search on terms like: "flaking clear coat", wet, dry, paper, polish, compound, etc.

If you go the wet/dry paper route, the huge mistake do-it-yourselfers make is starting out with far too abrasive a paper (like 600 or 800) and putting visible haze in the finish from small scratches, which then have to be tediously buffed out. And the more buffing, the more base coat you are removing. Start out with very low abrasiveness, wipe and check for any haze/scratches before going more abrasive.

Whatever you decide, just an afternoon or two of work might make it look lots better (at least a "10-footer"), especially after waxing.
 

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..... The paint is definitely shot, every single panel is faded and/or has the clear coat peeling off.
For inspiration, in the video below Chrisfix does a low-budget detail and paint touch-up of his beater car, using the Meguiar's Ultimate Compound, and he follows up with the separate Meguiars Polish. He does the whole car by hand (a bit of a workout), but a cheap ($30) orbital polisher like in the Scotty video above will also work. The 6" models like Black & Decker are easier to find bonnets for now than the old 8" ones.

He also shows using 5000 grit wet/dry paper on a lacquer touch-up paint job after it dries. I didn't even know it came that fine, but it may be good to start out that fine or 4000 grit on the flaking clear coat before moving on to 3000, 2500, 2000 if needed; and then the compound and polish.

Just need to go lightly at each step to not remove more clear and color than you need to - experiment on a small inconspicuous area first. The wet/dry paper and Meguiar's with the cheap polisher is low-cost compared to all the other compouding and polishing options with the $120 oribital polisher you see in the other videos - I don't really want to buy all that. But you can always move on to that later if you want.

ChrisFix uses a sponge under the wet/dry paper, but don't use a sponge with the Scotch Brite pad on one side, or you could slip and scratch the paint. Or instead just use a stiff block of some kind of foam. Obviously use a bucket to keep the paper wet and clean. You can also use the Meguiar's (or other brand) clay bar kit first (also cheap) after thorough washing to first remove any grit that has embedded in the clear coat. WalMart and the parts stores have those kits too.

Few more notes, if you wind up doing any paint touch up like ChrisFix shows:
Notice that for the touch-up paint, he uses lacquer primer, color, and clear. In case people are not aware, lacquer is very easy to use, and unlike enamels, mistakes and drips can be easily wet sanded out after drying. Also much safer if you breathe any in. (Still best to wear a half mask with 3M organic vapor cartridge filters, or at the very least an N95).

The Dupli-Color Perfect Match primer, paint and clear that they have at lots of parts stores is lacquer. You just have to use VERY light repeated coats of the primer, color, and clear or it may lift and bubble some OEM paints (try on a small inconspicuous area first). Dupli-Color also has a primer-sealer which may work better than their regular Perfect Match primer for sealing the OEM paint to avoid any lifting. Most of the auto parts stores have the Perfect Match paints in several OEM colors or they can order many colors. For example, they have the 1994 Chrysler Emerald Green Pearl on my car. Dupli-Color has their own instructional videos on YouTube (duplicolortv) if you search ond Dupli-Color Perfect Match.

Also, unlike the headlight stuff that ChrisFix does in the video, Meguir's has their own plastic polish and headlight coating which will work better, with less risk of putting fine scratches haze in the plastic with wet/dry paper (not really good for plastic).

How to Detail Faded Paint by Hand (Paint Correction)

 
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