Clear Coat Removal Advice

I’ve been working on prepping the plastic body panels for paint and have, like may of you, run into the problem of removing the thick top layer of clear that sits on the paint. I’ve tried sanding, chipping and finally heating it, so here’s what I found to be the easiest solution.

Someone here has suggested a heat gun and a putty knife. This is the correct and easiest way to remove the paint, however heating and scraping at the same time is not the correct method.

The clear needs to be heated to the point it is bubbling and turns from a clear to a cloudy and milky layer and then some more. This requires a good deal of heating; it will begin to melt. It will bubble. EDIT- Bubble slightly, no larger than when water is just about to boil. You don’t want big bubbles. This is where you want it to be. Do not scrape it at this point; keep going until all of the clear you want to remove in that section has been heated to the same consistency. If you try and remove it while hot it can and will turn into a gooey mess that will just require a lot more work later, plus you’ll end up digging into the paint and plastic below. Let it cool until you can touch it, then break out the putty knife and rubber mallet and start chipping away. The heat will have released the bond between the clear and the paint, making this job a lot easier (if not possible).

A few warnings. Be sure that when heating any part of the panel that it is not stressed in the position where it sits as this can cause the panel to bend with heat. Be careful around any holes; they can deform. Same goes for crevices. They can warp (although it’s not hard to repair with additional heat). Wear goggles! I had not had any of the bubbling clear coat pop or splatter, but it could happen, and when you begin chipping little (sharp) shards of plastic will go flying en every direction. You should probably wear a respirator as well; who knows what kind of chemicals are released with the heat.

Hope this helps.

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Thanks, been looking at the hood and thinking of having it wrapped but not priced it out. On my 2002, as the gel coat has been “sun heated”, it peels off but leaves a flaky, striped look behind. The stripes seem to match where it was last stuck to the color. Have you seen that?

Yes, this is exactly what it looks like when the clear is removed. I’m going to be hitting it with 220 tomorrow to see if it goes away. I’ll report back.

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Whomever posted on this topic before said to not get the clear so hot as it will rebond to the paint layer. This is correct. I broke out the torch to see if it would speed up the process- Nope, got too hot and rebonded. Stick to a heat gun.

thanks for info,i was thinking of that then i see a fire in a hood
did your also got white colour then top layer release ?

Yes, but I don’t think mine got quite so hot and not as bubbly. So, did yours peel off easy?

ok,no this was not mine,my problem is now on rear blue fender

Ah, ok. Just heat it up enough that it begins to cloud up. I got too aggressive this morning with a torch and rebonded it to the plastic.

It believe it was me that recommended not Overheating the clear. I can’t be sure but what I was told was that the Factory clear coat was a Low Heat Powder coat. (That would make sense because of how thick it is) anyways. I found that if you heated the clear to the “right temp” the clear would peel or lift. BUT if you overheated it the clear would RE BOND and stick like tarzans Grip” so the trick it to get it to the right temp and keep working it. I know it sucks. Almost worth buying a new hood/fender from NEV acessories is its real bad. Or if you have cracks. Unless you have more time then sucks spending all this time on cracked and peeling parts and then hrs and to prep prime and paint and only have them crack 1 years down the road. I learned the hard way like May of you. Some times JUNK is JUNK and you just have to PONY up $ to get quality. Not hatein on anyone trying to save a buck just trying to keep it real.

Grant, I think that was you who wrote that. Everything was going great until I thought I’d be smart and speed up the process with a torch.

It’s only natural to think If a little heat is good then more may be better. Been their done that.
What color are you going to paint your gem?
I listed the products I used in a thread called “painting a gem”

You’d think, right? More isn’t better? My GF actually came outside and said, “you know I read somewhere that if you heat it too much it’ll just be harder to get off.” She found your post via google.

The car is yellow now and I am torn between a few choices.

First choice: Plastic (Hood, mud flap things, rear wheel cover, storage box) pearl white. Rear shock plastic cover black. Hood will have a black stripe from the top to just below the lights (body line). Black top.

Second choice: Plastic painted silver, candy coat orange metallic over the silver. No
They look brand new.

I wish the pics from your “painting a Gem car” thread showed up!

Yes I’m real sorry that my pictures are no longer available I invested a lot of time and energy in uploading them to Photobucket.

Photobucket then decided that it was no longer going to allow links “from the pictures I posted” to be viewable unless you signed up and paid photo bucket almost $400 a year, what a joke!!! So on every website that I had contributed photos of (how to) or (progress of a project) became un viewable. it was as if Photobucket decided it would wait a few years for people to become invested in it & then hold you ransom, I’m sorry for the Long winded explanation, but I Hate Photobucket. Thank God this website allows you to post your own photos with out having a third party (like photo bucket) host them. This was all done before this Fourm updated to the current format. That allows you to post right from your device to the Fourm. :slight_smile:

Back to the topic or Painting your Gem. This is what my car came out like.

It happens. I used to have a photo studio and shot exotics for a few dealers and folks who wanted to document their collections. I uploaded a few thousand pics to a service that used gmail to store the pics. About a year later google shut them down and all I was left with was just a handful of what I’d shot. Frustrating for sure.

What are those seats out of? I need to replace the low backs in my car and have been looking for same that are decent. Problem is it’s a beach car and get rained on as it lived outside.

The best way they I have found for removing the clear coat with minimal damage to body is to use a blow gun , keep the air pressure up pretty gd and start where it’s is lifted a little. Changing directions and angles some . Sometimes stop and use quick bursts for stubborn spots . Seems to work week anywhere but is beginning to lift . If it’s stuck like new then break out the sander .

I think I might have found an easy way to remove the clear coat, at least for people up north. I had a small section of clear coat that had delamination and after the last rain followed by freezing temperatures, the delamination was considerably larger with water inside. It looks like if you can get some water in between the clear coat and then let it freeze, it will pop off a decent section of the clear coat.

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You can also use compressed air and a non-OSHA rubber tip blowgun to get similar results. Just find a flap and blow…

A pressure washer does a decent job.

Wow…your cart looks great! Do you mind sharing the specs on your wheels and tires? Did you have to modify the rear fender to allow them to fit? Also, did the speedometer need any adjusting? Thanks in advance!