Automotive Paint Problems Easy To Spot

by Don Elliott on August 7, 2012

The difference between a good paint job and average paint job can be spotted through small imperfections that may not have been caught in the paint shop’s quality assurance during the painting process.

Al Thomas, associate professor and department head of Collision Repair at the Pennsylvania College of Technology and frequent contributor to the Auto Body Repair Network, is quick to point out that achieving a perfect paint job is nearly impossible. However, knowing how to spot the most common defects and correct them during refinishing is the key to proper car maintenance and a great paint job that can go a long way to improving your used car’s value .

Thomas says, “These six common defects are ones that can be prevented either during application (runs, orange peel, and solvent popping) or during surface preparations (overspray, dirt nibs and fish eye).”

Runs – Whether you call them runs, drips, sags or blobs, an excess amount of paint will result in a bulge in the paint that is unacceptable. Most runs are repairable by buffing off the excess paint volume with a pumice stone until the paint thickness is evened out.

Orange peel – This is an irregular surface caused by either an improper adjustment of the paint gun or by paint that is improperly mixed and too thick. The orange peel finish is a dimpled like the outside of an orange rather than a flat and even finish. Some automotive repair shops  have to create a little orange peel to match the original factory paint finish that may contain some orange peel appearance missed during assembly line production.

Solvent popping – Solvent popping occurs when a second coat of paint is applied to soon over the base coat. Solvents from the base coat attempt to get out as part of the drying process, leaving craters in the surface of the overcoat that are almost impossible to repair. Strip and repaint is often the only solution.

Overspray – Occasionally, even the best prepped cars show overspray as the paint works its way under and around the protective masking. Removing the overspray is necessary for a quality paint job. A finish detailer can remove overspray from molding, glass and unpainted surfaces using detailing clay and other more aggressive techniques.

Dirt nibs – Proper preparation is the best control for dirt nibs, small flecks of paint contaminant including grit and dust that do not get removed before the paint is applied. Dirt nibs are difficult to control even in the best down draft paint booths.

Fish eye –Fish eye occurs when there is a contaminant like silicon or wax on the surface to be painted. The paint won’t adhere to the contaminant and separates into a fish eye shaped crater. Depending on the severity of the fish eye, it is possible to paint over the problem without fish eye occurring in the overcoat. Otherwise, it is necessary to strip the paint down to the contaminant and repaint to repair.

It is the little things that can take down a properly done automotive paint finish.

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