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How do you repair flaking clearcoat?

Discussion in 'Detailing' started by Brian A, Jan 9, 2009.

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    Brian A

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    The clearcoat on my 1991 BMW-Diamantschwarz-metallic 318i has flaked off a large part of the center of the roof. Likewise, the clearcoat on the engine hood is pretty much shot too; it is still there but appears to be delaminating from the paint.

    All this comes about from being parked outdoors for all of its 18 years.

    I am not looking to fix the paint job up too fanatically, but would like to make it better than it is.

    Is there a cheap way to make a (relatively) attractive repair to this damage?

    If it costs more than about $100, I'll just leave it the way it is and claim its thermal damage caused by reentry into the atmosphere from outer space.

    Sandpaper? Spray cans?
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    mooseheadm5

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    This is common on that era BMW (on all the metallic colors.) I have not seen an easy repair. It will probably need a repaint. This even happened to my brother's friend's E30 in 93!

    M3Driver guest

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    :( Repaint.....
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    Satch SoSoCalifortified

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    Brian's clearcoat

    No wonder they make you park in the back lot!

    :D:D:D
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    Brian A

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    The 1987 325i convertible is pristine in that "authentic" Pebble Beach concours kinda way. Larry Koch once gave it a good looking over and was impressed how the interior wasn't torn up like he expected.

    The 318i Quattroporte, on the other hand, has it's "issues." My father-inlaw owns a Painting and Decorating business (he's the guy you call if you need the 300' dome on your church re-gilded). He is visiting in March. I am thinking about asking him if he could sponge paint or trompe l'oeil it or something.

    ViolinARC guest

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    Bummer...

    +1 on the repaint. Just don't go to Maaco or Earl Scwabe (sp?). Some guy showed up to sell his 540i with a top-o-the-line paint job from an aftermarket painter and it looked like a** in comparison to a real BMW paint job. It had a killer sound system though...LOL!

    RioGrandeMs guest

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    repaint or not to repaint...

    If you've got the patience and persistence, you can "scuff" the entire car twice (for Thorough!!) with 3M red scuff pads and reshoot only the clear coat. Make sure you scuff especially well around the "lost" clear coat edge, edges. Wash it well with a good dish washing liquid and mask that puppy and shoot two 'dusting' clear coats, then one 'wet' coat. It'll look great and you don't have to pay for a full samding down to the color coat kinda paint job.

    Oh, you don't paint ya say?!!; PS if you do the grunt work, with some lead time, most shops will charge you for the final wash, wax cloth dedust, taping, clear and labor. So prep your car, drive it to your painter and watch the magic for 25-30% the Full Repaint costs. Obviously set this up in advance with a "weekend quicie" with your reputable paintshop employee, don't drive far and make sure your THOROUGH with the 3M.
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    mooseheadm5

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    By now the base coat is probably destroyed. This is common on the 80s vintage two stage BMW paints (all the metallics, basically.)
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    Jeff Gomon

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    You could be a real trend setter and cover the entire hood, trunk and roof with some fake carbon fiber look laminate film!!! - http://tinyurl.com/bw37pu - I have seen the Car Wraps on some cars that look pretty cool as well. I am, of course, half kidding, but I have seen this as a way to mask damage or other issues. My good friend wrapped the very lower lip on his 91 318is front air dam with this Carbon Fiber film and it actually looks great. His lip was broken and cracked so he repaired it by beefing up the back side and adding filler to the front. This film finished it off well, especially with the Diamond Black color of his car.

    That said, I have been painting cars and airplanes for over 22 years, if it is flaking off, it will continue to flake off if you do a spray over with clear. It may not happen the next day, but it will happen. If you aren't that concerned, play around with it. Try some different things and if worse comes to worse, you had to repaint it anyway......sand it all and start fresh.
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    granthr

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    Brian, I was going to suggest the respray of only clear coat, but the prep does have to be done correctly. But as Jeff mentions it might not hold up.

    So, since it does not look so great to begin with, why don't you try and respray the clear coat yourself? You can probably rent a spray gun and compressor if you don't have either. Maybe even get a hood from your local junk yard to practice on, try to find one with similar clear coat flaking.

    If it does not turn out so well, maybe down the road you can get that inevitable repaint. :D

    zaxjax guest

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    mooseheadm5

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    Probably only works on small areas. The 80s BMW flaking clear coat usually affects the whole top of the car. The base coat is usually toast as well.
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    Brian A

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    This is indeed what is happening to my car. The clear coat is effectively "delaminating" from the base coat. There is no use in buffing and respraying.

    The roof was so bad, that I decided to repair it (I had nothing to lose). The clearcoat comes off so easily I just lightly scraped a big rectangle of it off with a razor blade scraper. I buffed the base coat with a medium grit rubbing compound, masked the rectangle and resprayed with spray can clear coat. It looks fine; the base coat is now hopefully protected for a few years more and all the horrible flaking is gone.

    I won't do the hood this way, because the clearcoat is still intact although delaminating and becoming opaque. There are just too many curves on the hood to use a razor scraper without gouging the base coat.

    My only regret on the roof is not carefully drafting out a rectangle and scraping to the edges of it. My rectangle has irregular edges. If I had drafted and scraped more carefully, the slight color/sheen difference between the factory and spray can clear coat would have looked like the edges for a breakaway roof section for rear passenger ejection seats.
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    granthr

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    Glad to hear you were able to improve the roof without much expense. You just used the ole rattle can? :D Gotta love em.

    Maybe for the hood you should try wet sanding the clear coat off or at least the bad sections. Then respray a clear coat on it like you did the roof. Although I would suggest doing the whole thing so you don't have "edges". Keep us informed what you do!
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    mooseheadm5

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    It is only a few bolts to pull the hood, just remove the whole thing to avoid having to mask anything on the car.
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    Jeff Gomon

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    Agree, take the hood off, put it on some saw horses and block sand the edges as described. If you are going to use rattle can clear coat then fine. You can produce an acceptable finish with it. I would lay down a few coats and let it FULLY dry then check for fisheyes and runs etc.. If there are then color sand / wet sand any imperfections with 600 then 1000 grit and then buff it back to a shine with compound. Might turn out decent, but much better than what you currently have.
    As I stated in a previous post, don't know how long it will last or if it will adhere as well as a catalysed clear coat system over fresh base coat.
    Anxious to see the results just the same and good luck to you. Hey, you really got nothing to lose!!! The experience will be good as well.
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    Brian A

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    There is indeed something very liberating about owning a car with crappy paint. Dirt? Bird poop? Who cares! I've only washed the car once since I bought it, which was October.

    I kind of favor sponge painting or roller painting it, but the problem is that car is in dent free, rust free and mechanically excellent. I feel I should give it real paint someday. Oh well.
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    granthr

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    That doesn't count! You live in California! The weather out there is the whole reason there is a product called "California Car Duster"!!! :D :D You can get away with not "washing" your car for long periods of time if you keep it dust free. I am so envious! :D

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