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Hey, you're in the vehicle / car zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

Cars / Trucks / Vans Category: Body Appearance

Maintenance Issues:

How to restore a vehicle's paint job before resorting to the costly action of repainting it.

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

  • Appropriate auto body rubbing products: liquid polish, polishing compound, and rubbing compound
  • Appropriate auto wax
  • Cloth/rag


There may come a time when you despise looking at your vehicle because its appearance has diminished with age:  The paint job no longer presents itself well, putting it mildly--or, to be frank, it's just so ugly in its deteriorated condition.  Suffice it to say, the vehicle no longer shines, but gives you and every one who touches its deteriorated state a "piece of itself," which is that grime from the grayish powdery substance on its deteriorated painted surface--commonly referred to as "chalk."  With this unsightly condition, you may be more than ready to take your vehicle to the body shop to have it repainted, but should you take this step? You should try to evaluate other auto body makeover options that may be less costlier and yet just as effective as a repaint job. The option discussed below is "rubbing out" the vehicle's body for its original finish and shine.

Opting to try rubbing out the deteriorated top of the vehicle's finish may be such an ideal option for your situation. With this rubbing-out option, if you are lucky, you may get the vehicle's body to shine once again with the gloss of the paint that is uncovered by the rub-out removal of the chalk that once desecrated and essentially buried it.

Specifically as to the type of auto body rubbing products you'll need:  When purchasing one


from an automotive parts store or online, be considerate of the varying abrasive strength of such products.  You'll want to get an auto body rubbing product that is abrasive enough to have all the chalk removed, but not one that is so abrasive that the underlying good paint surface and primer are damaged in any away.  In this realm of auto body rubbing products, there are essentially three types that are usually defined by their abrasiveness:  1) liquid polish (mildly abrasive); 2) polishing compound (moderately or highly abrasive); and 3) rubbing compound (highly abrasive).  (Read the manufacturer's labeling of each product to ascertain the exact abrasive rating in addition to how to properly apply it.)

Generally, you should start with the least abrasive auto body rubbing product, which is usually the liquid polish.  Start applying this product, per the manufacturer's instructions, using an appropriate cloth, on the part of the vehicle that is least unnoticeable at first, or just one part of the auto body--the hood, roof, fender or door.  Should this product not do enough to safely, but effectively, restore the vehicle's surface, try the next auto body rubbing product with much more of an abrasive element, the polishing compound, following the manufacturer's instructions.  If you find that it does not work, try the rubbing compound.  Of the three types, once you find the auto body rubbing product that works for you, complete the part of the auto body you started, and then go on to the other parts of the auto body to completion.

If you are successful in restoring the vehicle's finish, immediately apply one coat of wax, per the instructions of the manufacturer of the wax product; do not attempt to apply a second coat of wax, as it is not necessary and actually useless.

So, rub away for hopefully a better looking vehicle.

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


Click here to apply for person to person auto financing.



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