Hood & Spat delaminating

About three weeks after receiving my used 2006 Gem from an SC private party last summer, I noticed that the clear coating (very thick, not just a sprayed clear-coat, I think) on the hood & spat had begun delaminating in several places, and water was getting between the clear top surface and the underlying plastic body. This has continued and now large areas are separated and, where no longer stuck well to the plastic body panel, are chipping and easily snapped off. I have to do something about this, as I want to sell the GEM and it looks terrible. A local auto body shop had never seen such a coating and didn’t have a clue what to do (didn’t want to even try). I have chipped off most of the loose places, but where it has not delaminated it seems impossible to get it off so as to re-paint the whole unit. I tried a hair dryer to heat it up some, but that didn’t do anything helpful. I’m at a loss…has anyone seen this happen? Any suggestions on how to removed the coating where it is still adhered? I’ve attached a couple photos. Thanks.

I have the same issue, only thing I’ve found to work is sand paper. Take forever to get it off. Did you find a easier way?

No, sorry, I haven’t found or heard of a better way, and yes, sanding the clear coat off is extremely difficult. Now I’m having electrical issues each time I go to use the Gem. Acts like there is a loose connection somewhere. Kind of had it with this vehicle, gotta admit. Think I’ll lease an electric Smart Car. Anyone want a Gem with nice wheels, vinyl doors and 7hp with new batteries for slightly more than the cost of the batteries?

Where are you located?

Bar Harbor, Maine.

Too far, sorry.

Roger, understood–we’re too far from just about everywhere. But hey, Acadia National Park makes it worth it.

Looks like it might be “Plasti-dipped”. That’s one of the problem with the process. Probably better off buying a new hood and starting over rather than trying to peel off the coating.

Sanding it by hand would be very labor intensive. Did you consider soda blasting (NOT sand blasting)? Soda blasting is a much less destructive process than sand and is often used on irreplaceable or very “thin” metal parts for that reason.

What sort of electrical problems are you having? What batteries are installed?


Yes, sanding is almost impossible by hand, barely do-able by disc (and leaves surface rough and in need of fine sanding. But new parts (front & rear) have been quoted at $1000 (if they can be found).

The batteries are Polaris branded gel, purchased new from the Gem dealer in Bangor, ME, last Sept for $1474 (kept plugged in all winter without issues, have performed fine the little I’ve used the car…maybe 50 miles all this year).

If anyone is nearby and is interested, I’m ready to give the car away (for $2000).

Probably best to list it on your local Craigslist or maybe eBay if you’re serious about wanting to get rid of it. Unfortunately the market for GEMs is pretty limited at best and even more so if it’s not 100% “right”. You have to find a buyer that a) wants a GEM and b) isn’t afraid of tackling problems and in your case c) is either local OR willing to pickup [or ship].

I know GEMs can be very frustrating when they aren’t working right. I went through a time sorting out all my various “quirks” when I purchased my 01 GEM so I’m keen to help/advise when I can. Sorry about your issues.


Roger that, I will indeed list it asap–and hope to have it running, if ugly, when I do.


Especially when winter is coming all too soon to Maine!

I have the same problem with my 05 eS. Haven’t tried anything yet as I want to get it up and running first, but when I get that far with it I’ll give you a shout.

Thanks, John, that would be great.

I’m taking mine to a local paint supply to see if they can recommend a stripeer.

Today I spoke with one of the guys at Innovation motorsports. They customize a lot of GEM’s. They told me they use a blasting method most of the time, buy also have had good results by removing what’s loose then feathering the edges of what wont come loose, to blend in with the rest of the surface. then prime and paint.
I’m going to give it a try and see how it works. I’ll post the results when I’m done.

All four of ours have peeled. I remember seeing an aftermarket company selling GEM body panels but can’t remember where.

Thanks Piper 247. Blasting I can see might work to refinish completely, but I’ve watched the feathered edge that seemed secure continue loosening and delaminating further after a short while. Maybe with a new primer coat and finish it would stop? It would be really frustrating to do all that work (or pay someone to do it…although I can’t find anyone willing to even try) and then discover it is just delaminating again.

I’m at a loss–please post any results from your experiments.

And if anyone can point me toward an aftermarket source for the hods and spat, that would be great.

I wonder if your delaminating problem is systemic to GEMs in general or peculiar to your particular repaint job or the type of paint used. I know that certain plastics are tough to paint and if you don’t do it correctly w/ special primer, “plastic bonding paint” and correct technique, I could see it delaminating over time as the plastic flexs, expands/contracts etc.


Hi Al,

I’ve heard from several others who say theirs are delaminating, too.

Yes, that primer/special paint info what a local auto specialist told me as well. I’m loathe to even attempt it given how difficult it is to get the delaming clear coat off. I think I have found a buyer who restores Gems and can deal with it, though.