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Discussion Starter #1
I am sure these are going to be extremely basic questions, but I have no idea what the proper descriptions or terms are for everything that can go wrong with a car's finish making it difficult to search.

This isn't about my Trep, fortunately; I just picked up a 1995 Nissan Altima for my daughter (it's her first car). Hopefully y'all won't mind me posting about it here (paint is pretty universal, right?)...

The car drives great, and he interior has been well cared for. The exterior... not so much. It looks like it's been in the sun for years, parked under trees and birds, not washed in ages, etc. I'm out of work right now so I can't take it to be repainted or to a professional detailer, and I have no equipment like orbital polishers so I'll have to do everything by hand. I'm not expecting miracles, just trying to make what is here more presentable.

Here is the car in question:





(At this point it hasn't even been washed yet.)

The problems here are:

- In several spots it looks like tree sap has fallen onto the paint and hardened, I have no idea how long ago; not sure how to best remove it.



- There is a whitish oval with a smaller oval of dull paint in the center; I'm guessing this is a spot where the clearcoat has worn off.



- The hood has hints of whitish clouding in the clearcoat. In addition it is very rough and dirty, moreso than the rest of the paint on the car (the roof is similar), and there are a couple od spots where the clearcoat is missing (bird droppings?)



- Clearcoat is actually flaking off the grille.



- The back half of the roof has the texture of sandpaper, and there is a large spot where the paint is completely gone; no rust so I'm assuming the gray I see there is primer and not metal, but I'm not sure.



- Paint is missing off the door pillars.



Currently at my disposal, I have a couple of foam applicator pads, lots of terrycloth and microfiber towels, Meguiar's Quick Detailer, Deep Crystal Car Wash, Deep Crystal Paint Cleaner, Deep Crystal Polish, and Deep Crystal Carnauba Wax. I'm assuming I am going to have to get hold of something to remove that sap.

I know the real answer is "repaint it", but much of the body still seems to have decent life left in the paint, and the car's got 170,000 miles on it. I just want my daughter to not be completely embarrassed by the look of her car; it's the best I can do for her right now.

Going on my own, my instinct is to do something like this:

- Wash the car well
- Hand-apply the Deep Crystal Paint Cleaner and Deep Crystal Polish
- Use touch-up paint and touch-up clearcoat on the circles damaged by sap/birds (do I only need the clearcoat where the paint is still there?)
- Apply something like TR-3 Resin Glaze to the whole car to help protect the spots where the clearcoat/paint is missing
- After the glaze has cured for a day, apply the Deep Crystal Wax.

My questions are:

- Is this the right approach?
- Is there some better way to seal that oval with missing clearcoat?
- Should I mask off and use touch-up spray paint on that section of the roof (I know it'll look awful, but hopefully less awful than bare primer) or just seal it to prevent more damage? Am I looking at primer or bare metal?
- Do I attempt to paint the pillars? It doesn't feel like regular paint; is there a special paint for those? Or do I just accept that as part of the "charm" of a 16-year old car?
- Is this too much for an amateur? Do I need to bite the bullet and take it somewhere?

Thanks for any guidance you can share.

--Chris
 

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Clear coat is shot, but since you cant do anything about that yet, I would say to do this list.

- Wash the whole car in Meguiars Ultimate, with hot water.
- Then use Meguiar's claybar kit kit and go over the whole car, exactly as directed. Avoid the spots where the paint is flaking or the clearcoat has disappeared. It will only make it worse. Go around those spots. On spots such as the tree sap, you may have to let the quick detailer sit for a little bit, but the HOT water (not warm) that you use to wash the car with should help loosen it up for the most part.
- After clay baring the car, use Meguiar's Ultimate compound, just as directed. Once again avoiding the flaking paint or clear coat spots.
- Then use some kind of polishing system, such as meguiar's.
- then use the gold carnuba wax on the car in one coat, followed by a coat of triple protection wax treatment, then another coating of the gold carnuba.

It wont look new, and you cant get rid of the clear coat spots and the flaking without a repaint, but it will most definitely look better.

All supplies should total no more than $40ish bucks.
 

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Don't waste a whole lot of time and money on such bad paint. You don't need claybars, compound, fancy waxes/polishes, etc. Wash it and hit it with a can of Pledge. It will shine much better and from 20 feet it might look OK. It won;t hold up to too much rain, but your daughter can very easily re-apply it if she is that interested in the car's appearance.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I mostly am trying to fix the obvious things and keep it from getting worse if possible. Even the cheapest paint job would be too extravagant for it. Now if it was an Intrepid that would be a different story.... :)

The sides and trunk are in fairly good shape, it's the hood and roof that are bad. I could live with the roof (who looks up there anyway). I'd considered just having the hood painted but it would look out of place looking TOO good. "Hey, could you paint it and then throw a few rocks at it and leave it in the sun and rain a bit so it blends?" :)
 

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You need a good buffer and rubbing compound to have any hope of getting that to look decent, which you can. Meg's has a Paint Restoration kit that has a clay bar, ultimate compound, some pads, and gold class cash wash. So that should take care of the chemicals you'll need. The kit costs around $30.00 from Advance. If nothing else you definitely will need a good rubbing compound to get any real results.


You could also just paint it (or parts of it) yourself. Sand it, prime it, get color matched paint (you can get them in spray cans), and then have a body shop spray it with clear.
 

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I think so, but I'm not sure where. I think the easiest thing to do would be to get some black spray paint, sand the pillars and spray them.

This is the kit by the way:

 

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Crash course on auto paint refinishing. This is the "Back-Yard-Anything-Is-Better-Than-What-I've-Got" Method.

Door Pillars: Looks like you might have a vinyl sticker called an applique on there. If it is you can take a hair dryer and heat it up. Use a razor blade (carefully!) and see if it peels up. If it does go slow and take it off. You can get replacement appliques from Nissan but they are a royal PITA to apply. (Usually a wet-application much like putting on window tint) Your better off removing the applique, prepping the area and painting it satin black.

Do Not Park your car under a tree for shade during the paint process. Even light wind will stir up pollen and dust that will get into the paint. Watch your weather forecast. Look for a day that's not overly humid or windy.

As for the rest of the car, the grey your seeing on the roof is indeed primer and the only way to fix it is to sand the rough areas smooth with 320 grit sandpaper (you can do this by hand...takes a while w/o a sander but will still be ok). At this point you'll want to have a grey 3M Scotchbrite pad and rough up the rest of the roof. (I know it's already rough, but it needs to have the sandpaper texture removed). Wash with Dawn Detergent. NOT the stuff with Aloe... it will strip all the old wax and most other assorted junk off. Let it dry...be it a squeegee or shammy get all the water off the roof and mask it off with newspaper and masking tape.

If you have sanded through to the metal in any place you'll need to put a light coat of primer on the bare metal before going on to color and clear. Let it dry and lightly sand with grey 3M pad.

You can get cans of Spray paint at your local auto store. We're going for better, not showroom. Dupli-Color is popular and fairly inexpensive. You'll want both color and clear. Wipe the area off with a rag lightly dipped in paint prep grease/wax remover. (You can actually get a decent result with window cleaner with Ammonia. It will act as a grease and wax remover not as effective, but cheaper) . One hand with the cleaner, one hand with a clean dry cloth. Once done, wipe the area off with a Tack cloth (.99 at most stores). DON'T SKIP THIS STEP. Tack cloth is essential when refinishing just about anything. Use light pressure and let the cloth do the work.

You should always use a piece of cardboard as a test area to see how the paint flows. Paint color then clear. You can then hold the piece of cardboard up to the car to see how close of a color match it will be.

Spray color with one light coat. Let it dry about 5 min. and apply another coat. The can of paint will give you directions on how long til fully dry. (Usually 30 min.) Once dry, wipe again with Tack cloth and spray 1 light coat of clear. Let it tack up then spray a second, slightly heaver coat. Watch how the paint flows. Too much and you'll get runs.

Use these steps for all parts you want to refinish. As for the clear on the bumper you can just wash it, rough it up, tack and use clear. As for the hood....you might want to leave well enough alone. Hoods are easily the most recognizable part of a car. Easy to mess up and when done wrong they'll make an entire car look horrible.

Final option. You might get away with a riced out look if you paint the hood,roof and trunk lid a mat or flat black. After the black dries, mask off a stripe down the drivers side and paint it the body color.

This could be a Father-Daughter project too! Get her input on what she wants. No sense in going crazy with all this effort if the effect is going to be "My dad just did it..." Get her thoughts on color scheme and what she'd like to see. Have her help by sanding or masking. Let's face it. It's a great opportunity to teach her how to take care of a car and in the end she'll appreciate all the work that was done to make it look good for her. It will also foster a "it's mine and I'm going to take care of it after all the work I did" mentality too!

Good Luck!
 

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Clear coat is shot, but since you cant do anything about that yet, I would say to do this list.

- Wash the whole car in Meguiars Ultimate, with hot water.
- Then use Meguiar's claybar kit kit and go over the whole car, exactly as directed. Avoid the spots where the paint is flaking or the clearcoat has disappeared. It will only make it worse. Go around those spots. On spots such as the tree sap, you may have to let the quick detailer sit for a little bit, but the HOT water (not warm) that you use to wash the car with should help loosen it up for the most part.
- After clay baring the car, use Meguiar's Ultimate compound, just as directed. Once again avoiding the flaking paint or clear coat spots.
- Then use some kind of polishing system, such as meguiar's.
- then use the gold carnuba wax on the car in one coat, followed by a coat of triple protection wax treatment, then another coating of the gold carnuba.

It wont look new, and you cant get rid of the clear coat spots and the flaking without a repaint, but it will most definitely look better.

All supplies should total no more than $40ish bucks.
Way, WAY too much effort for a finish like that.

Just wash the car. Use the cleaner, polish, then 4 coats of wax. That's the cheap and easy way to get a decent finish off a paint job like that.

Other option is a completely new paint job. But since it's her first car, got the cheap route.

I think so, but I'm not sure where. I think the easiest thing to do would be to get some black spray paint, sand the pillars and spray them.

This is the kit by the way:

I use that and it's not as good as the Deep Crystal Cleaner.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Crash course on auto paint refinishing. This is the "Back-Yard-Anything-Is-Better-Than-What-I've-Got" Method.

Door Pillars: Looks like you might have a vinyl sticker called an applique on there. If it is you can take a hair dryer and heat it up. Use a razor blade (carefully!) and see if it peels up. If it does go slow and take it off. You can get replacement appliques from Nissan but they are a royal PITA to apply. (Usually a wet-application much like putting on window tint) Your better off removing the applique, prepping the area and painting it satin black.
Painting the pillars worked out great! My wife took my daughter to a friend's beach house for the weekend so I could have room to work on the car unnoticed, and of course took her hair dryer with her, so I had to remove the applique with just the razorblade... that was a pain. After that I sanded and primed it, then hit it with four light coats of Duplicolor's Flat Black Trim Paint.



Do you suppose I should apply wax on top of the flat black paint?


Odd moment: I applied the first coat at dusk. Went inside to wait 10-15 minutes, when I came back out I had to bring a worklight. When I shined (shone?) the worklight on the car, I found it covered in spiders. (Well, 4 or 5 large spiders, that's covered enough.) I hope there's not a spider colony in the body of the car somewhere... it has been sitting outdoors for 6 months.

You can get cans of Spray paint at your local auto store. We're going for better, not showroom. Dupli-Color is popular and fairly inexpensive.
Discovered that Dupli-Color doesn't offer my paint (Starfire Blue Pearlcoat, BN6). They don't offer the paint for my Intrepid or Charger, either, and no time to order online. Gonna have to just make that primer spot shiny.

Thank you for all the great information! I'll see what she wants to do after the "surprise" part is over and we can either order touch-up paint or take another approach, and in the meantime tomorrow I'll tackle the "make what I've got shiny" part.

--Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Way, WAY too much effort for a finish like that.
This is the kit by the way
I use that and it's not as good as the Deep Crystal Cleaner.
Really? Hm. I bought some Ultimate Compound (I had the Quick Detailer and Deep Crystal Wax already and I thought the clay bar was overkill, so I just got the compound) and I already have Deep Crystal Cleaner. I did buy a cheap Turtle Wax 10" orbital buffer at Wal-Mart, so at least it won't take me forever to apply... it'll be the first time using a buffer.

I thought the car looked pretty decent today while it was still wet after washing, but it quickly dulled after I dried it and looking close I can see the dirt embedded in the surface. So, looking forward to the buff-fest tomorrow. :)
 

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I've used the Ultimate compound and its work very well for me, better than the Deep Crystal (which I also have). That's been my experience.


The pillars turned out great! I'd clear hit them with some clearcoat (comes in a can too) to make the finish last.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I've used the Ultimate compound and its work very well for me, better than the Deep Crystal (which I also have). That's been my experience.
I tried both... I thought the Deep Crystal worked better on the really bad areas. But neither one impressed me much at first, and I was starting to feel like the whole thing had been a waste of time. I was just going to throw some wax on it and call it a weekend, but I just said "what the hell" and went ahead and loaded up the buffer with the Deep Crystal step 2 polish.

The car turned to liquid.

Now the deep scratches, clearcoat failure, cloudiness, etc. are all certainly still there, mind you, but shiny... and the parts of the clearcoat that were still in good condition (more than I think I've been giving the car credit for) have a good wet look. After waxing it, the effort was completely worth it. A 3M headlight cleaning kit with sealant did wonders for the yellowed, nearly opaque headlights too.

The shine, in my mind, overpowers the clearcoat failure enough that from 5 feet away you don't really see any of the flaws if you aren't looking for them, whereas before the horrid condition of the paint was easily visible from any distance.




Thank you all for your help!

--Chris
 

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oh my gosh it looks so much better.
 

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I first used the Deep Crystal system on a 91 S10 that was my mother's and she didn't take care of it at all. The finish was supposed to be black but was dulled so much it almost looked grey. Washed, cleaned, polished, waxed, and then detailer and that truck looked almost brand new. Paint was so smooth that when I was doing the polishing the bottle slid off the hood. Took about 4 hrs I think to do it to get it that way mostly from using the cleaner.
 
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