How to Sand a Car

How to Sand a Car
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how to sand a carKnowing how to sand a car is not only essential if you’re into restorations but also extremely useful if you want to repair and repaint your car without spending a lot of money. It’s tricky but by following the steps below you’ll be able to achieve excellent results and save a whole lot of money.

It’s a long process but the results are peerless and the satisfaction of completing a perfect paint task is quite a fantastic feeling. In most restoration cases, the most important phase of the entire process is sanding the car’s old paint – which deserves full know-how in itself and that’s exactly what we’ll be taking a look at today!

How to Sand a Car in 5 Steps

If you want to learn how to sand a car like a true professional, you will need to learn and perform the following steps but before we begin, these are the items you need:

  • Random orbital sander (electric or pneumatic)
  • Sandpaper of various grits
  • Body filler (if needed)
  • Dust mask
  • Eye goggles

Now let’s begin!

1 – Thoroughly Clean and Clear All Surfaces

Firs, start by cleaning the entire car to remove dust or any other potential obstacles that can make the process difficult or get in the way of achieving a great result. Take your time to remove any fixtures as well as any detailing such as wing mirrors, badges and the headlight surrounds.

Protect everything else in your car using a masking film or abrasion resistance – this will make sure that it remains safe from unnecessary damage.

2 – Carefully Repair Any Existing Damage

Start by checking the selected surfaces for damage and try to mark out which ones are superficial and which ones are deep. While the superficial ones (light scratches, etc…) can be easily repaired by just sanding a slight layer off, deeper dents need filling to maintain the car’s integrity and to ensure that the final result looks as good as new after the fresh coats of paint.

3 – Remove the Old Layers of Paint

For this initial phase where you want to get rid of the rougher, outer layers of paint, attach the coarse abrasive discs to the orbital sanding machine and give the surfaces a thorough pass. While sanding, you should apply a smooth motion, not moving or stopping quickly and without applying too much pressure – just enough to do away with the outermost layer of the paint. You should ensure that the entire surface of the car has been sanded down to similar levels.

After this is done, it’s time to move on to a finer grit of sandpaper and perform another pass. Although 2 passes are usually enough for this phase, you should keep performing them until all the old paint and imperfections are gone.

4 – Achieve a New, Scratch-Free Finish

After reaching the primer, you should switch to the finest grade you have to help remove any scratches made by your course disk (if any are left after the previous step). Ensure that at this stage there are no visible scratches and that the surfaces are smooth and even, ready to take on a fresh coat of paint.

5 – Make Sure All Surfaces are Ready for a New Coat of Paint

At this stage, you should aim for the matte finish and not a high polish since it does not offer enough grip for new paint and primer. With this in mind, there should be less or no visible scratches or marks left by your final sanding phase so just slowly but surely apply your new coats of paint.

And just like that, you’re done!


The Best Ways, Tips and Tricks to Sand a Car

Here we’ll look at a few tips and tricks you might not know or might have missed during the steps above. Whether you are planning to restore your old paint job or use a different color on the car to make it look fresh and new, here are the best ways to sand your car and make the entire process much more effective and easier.

Use the Right Sandpaper Grit

Ensure that you are using the right grit of the sandpaper when sanding your car. The grit of sandpaper refers to its roughness and the rate at which it can help you sand away the paint as well as other materials on the surface. Remember to start with a lower grit to remove rougher coats of paint and damage and then slowly climb the grit ladder to achieve an increasingly finer, more polished result.

Use Wet Sand for a Better Finish

For you to achieve the best paint finish for your car, it’s a good idea to wet-sand it before starting to paint. The best-wet sanding sandpapers range between 1,000 and 2,000 grits since they provide excellent results and absolutely eliminate any scratches, even if super small. Also, be sure to keep your paper wet throughout the entire process and never allow it to become dry or the friction will be too much and cause unwanted abrasions.

Use the Sanding Blocks for an Even Finish  

Although not essential in all jobs, sanding blocks can be great tools when repainting your car as they give you more flexibility in motion. An excellent sanding block is about 12 inches long, and its flat side is covered with sandpaper. If you know how to use a sanding block, you will be in the position to identify any low or high spots that may be available on the surface of your vehicle. The entire sanding process is just like a foundation of a house. If you get one part wrong, you will see the effects in other phases of your work so always take your time and do your best.


Congratulations, you now know how to sand a car like a true expert and you’re on your way to achieve excellent results! Thank you for reading and I’ll see you on the next one.

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