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Applying Clear Coat: Do’s and Dont’s

DetailXPerts applying clear coat

Applying Clear Coat: Do’s and Dont’s

Applying clear coat helps preserve and protect your color coat from oxidation and damage. This transparent paint layer also restores your vehicle’s glossy finish. Knowing how to fix clear coat peeling is also a great way to save on garage bills. But you must also look after your new clear coat to ensure lasting results.

We recommend downloading our Eco Wash Guide. It highlights what makes our auto spa unique. For example, our green technology gently removes dirt and contaminants. And our regular steam cleaning and wax treatments will help maintain your clear coat gloss and shine.

Eco Auto Wash Guide


Your Guide to Applying Clear Coat

Why do you need to fix peeling clear coat? Maintaining the exterior extends the life of your vehicle and protects your investment. Without the extra layer, paint can peel away and cause rust damage. However, applying clear coat can be tricky if you have not done it before. Here are some tips and tricks to guide you through the process.


Do Inspect Your Vehicle

First, inspect your car exterior carefully to see where to apply the clear coat. The first sign of peeling indicates that the outside layer needs replacing. Most of the time, the damage is obvious. The top of the vehicle tends to be where most of the paint will peel, especially around the hood.


Don’t Buy Clear Coat Without Doing Some Research

There are different types of clear coats, such as single-part formulas or 2-part clear coats. You can apply them with spray cans, spray guns, or air brushes. So, take a moment to figure out the best buy for your vehicle and budget. For example, single-part automotive spray paint does not require a catalyst. It is usually the most affordable clear coat, and ideal for quick touch-ups and filling scratches.

You can also buy 2 component sprayable clear coat that will harden quickly for a more durable finish. Alternatively, use clear coat in a tin with an activator – ideal for working on larger areas of your vehicle. You apply this clear coat with a spray gun or air brush.

When choosing the best clear coat for your car, consider factors such as the weather conditions in your area. For example, if you live somewhere that gets strong, year-round sunshine, it is worth paying a bit extra for a high-quality, UV-resistant clear coat.


Do Prepare the Area Before Applying Clear Coat

Prepping the area ensures a flawless finish. First, wash the affected area, or use our steam cleaning technology to clean your car exterior effectively. Getting rid of dirt, dust, and grease gets you off to a great start. Next, thoroughly dry the area.

Then, use fine sandpaper to remove the previous layers of damaged and peeling clear coat. For example, 400-600 grit sandpaper will effectively do the job. Preparing and properly sanding down the surface guarantees the new layer of clear coat will go on evenly. For more tips, see our home remedies for oxidized paint.


Don’t Rush the Job

Applying clear coat is not a rushed job. So, set aside enough time to prepare and apply the clear coat. Moving slowly and steadily while overlapping coverage provides an even surface. The clear coat should be thin but have enough coverage that there are no holes in the layers.

Before you spray the clear coat on the exterior, consider practicing first. Grab a piece of scrap metal and test the product and your technique. Also note that clear coats are made of resins, solvents, and additives. So, always stir or shake the contents to ensure these components come together to achieve professional-looking results.


Do Apply Multiple Layers

Clear coats require multiple layers to cover every area of the paint. And each layer should be smooth and thin. If the clear coat is too thick, you risk paint drips and will not get an even finish. Also, in between each layer, you need to allow time for the solution to dry.

Wait at least 10 minutes before applying the second coat. This layer can be slightly thicker than the first. Make sure you allow about an hour for this to dry. You can apply three to four layers of clear coat to achieve the glossiest finish.


Don’t Forget to Wash Your Car Regularly

After successfully applying clear coat, be sure to look after your vehicle otherwise you will have to repeat the clear coat process before long. The easiest way to maintain your paintwork is to clean your vehicle at least once a month. This helps to protect your car exterior from weather and wear.

Avoid harsh brushes and washing techniques that could nick or scratch your paintwork. Instead, consider gentler steam cleaning methods and eco-friendly wash products. Our car detailing that comes to you is an option if you are short on time.



Applying clear coat seals and protects your car exterior. And it also restores a beautiful, mirror shine to the paintwork, leaving your vehicle looking like new. If you follow our steps, always work in a clean environment with plenty of ventilation. Preparation is a vital part of the process, too. For instance, sand down any imperfections first before applying clear coat.

Take preventative measures, too. Protect your clear coat with regular car care. You can schedule an appointment for our mobile cleaning services. Our water-saving auto wash cleans an average-size car with only 1 pint of water. Download our Eco Car Wash Benefit Guide to learn more.

Eco Auto Wash Guide

What’s more, we make life easier by coming to you. Our mobile detailers bring their steam cleaning equipment to where your vehicle is parked. Don’t forget to ask if we are running any special deals and discounts.

Also, please sign up for our monthly newsletter. It has all the latest news and tips on car care. You can also find out about owning a DetailXPerts franchise.

DetailXPerts is a nationwide mobile vehicle detailing and commercial cleaning company. We believe a better clean begins eco green. Our difference is industry-leading green technology. We use science-backed steam methods and biodegradable products to clean and sanitize on demand. And our mobile vehicle detailing service comes to you! Please get in touch if you want to set up an appointment or have questions about what or how we clean. Our team loves sharing car tips and how we achieve safe sanitization with our steam-sterilizing methods. We write about auto detailing, janitorial services, fleet cleaning, franchising, and more. So be sure to check back for our next article. Happy driving!


Editor’s note: This article was updated in January 2023 for comprehensiveness.


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