Colour Coding Your Car   Girls and Motors, for the racer in all us girls



Index > Car Modifying > Colour Coding Step by Step Guide

Colour Coding Your Car Step by Step Guide

I have put this guide together, to help those who are unsure about how to go about colour coding bits of their cars. Itís not a difficult process, but does require a lot of patience and effort to get a good result.

For this process, you will need:

  1. Two Buckets, one with warm soapy water and a sponge and one filled with warm tap water
  2. Some Wet and Dry abrasive paper. I tend to use grades: 400, 1500, and 2000. Halfords or any car accessory shops stock this.
  3. A can of Primer
  4. A can of your chosen colour.
  5. A can of Clear Coat lacquer
  6. Some cutting compound and polish/wax
  7. And finally, as stated before, some patience. The key here is to take your time. Rushing will only create headaches later on, and the end result will look rubbish.
Right then, lets begin!



Step 1

Decide what part or parts you want to colour code. Be careful here, as some parts will look good, and some will look tacky in some cases. It may be an idea to try something small for your first attempt. Remove the part from the car if possible, as it makes life easier.

For this guide, I'll spray my radiator cover just to show you.


Step 2

Clean the part with soapy warm water and a sponge. Chances are, it will be fairly dirty and full of dirt containments, which hinder the paintís ability to stick to the part, so a good clean in all the nooks and crannies will help to remove these.


Clean the part

Step 3

Key the part up. This involves a good rub down with 400 grade wet and dry, to take the surface finish off the part, to allow the Primer to stick to it. Failure to do this would result in the paint flaking off in a few weeks!


Key the part up

Step 4

A quick note here, always wear protection people!! ;) Seriously, wear a mask. Inhaling paint fumes is not a good idea, and will not do your lungs any good whatsoever! You have been warned!


Wear protection

Priming. This coating allows the paint to stick. This comes in a variety of colours, but I tend to use Grey, as itís easy to work with, and helps to bring the colour out later.


Prime the part

Start with a very light coat, just lightly covering the part. Leave to dry. After 10mins or so, it should be dry so apply another light coat. Carry on applying light coats, with drying time in between, until a decent coverage is achieved. Now leave this to dry properly for around an hour.


Allow to dry

Step 5

Tea break! While thatís drying, why not make a brew? Youíve earned it!


Tea break

Step 6

Now the primers dry, take a look at the result. You will notice many small imperfections in the finish. These need to be removed; otherwise they will show through when the paint is applied.


Remove imperfections

To do this, use 1500 Grade wet and dry, and plenty of water. A light rub down is only needed, as too much pressure with break through the primer and remove all your hard work! Keep stopping and checking to see how you are getting on.


Use 1500 grade wet and dry

When a nice smooth surface is achieved, stop, and rinse the entire gunk off under the hose.

Now leave this to dry.


Step 7

Now we are ready to paint. As this is a guide, I used some paint I had mixed up already, just to show you. You will have bought the correct paint for youíre car though.

Again, a light dusting coat first of all, and leave to dry. Then, build up the coats lightly until a good even coverage is achieved, and the colour appears deep and matt.


Layer the paint

3-4 coats are usually enough. Avoid leathering the part in paint, as you run the risk of it cracking later on.


Apply 3-4 coats

Leave to dry again for an hour or so, why not make another cuppa, or walk the dog or something?


Step 8

Now we apply the clear coat laquer. This is what gives the paint a protective layer, and also makes it shine.


Apply clear coat laquer

Yet again, 3-4 very light coats, building up until a good shine is visible. Donít forget those drying times in between!

After the final coat, leave it to dry overnight, to allow it to dry and harden up a bit. Placing the part I a spare room in your house is a good idea, as the room temperature helps this process speed up.


Step 9

Now its completely dry, we can take a look at our work.


Look at work

Hmm, looks pretty good, but thereís still some imperfections in there from dust particles etc. We need to remove them. Here, we use 2000 Grade wet and dry, and loads of water. VERY light pressure here, as we donít want to risk breaking through the laquer. Let the paper do the work here, and remember to repeatedly stop and check your progress.


Remove remaining imperfections

When almost all the texture has disappeared, stop and rinse off with a hose.


Step 10

When thatís dried off, we need to buff it up to a nice shine. Use 2 cloths, one to apply the polish, and one to remove. Iím using 3M fast cut here, but places such as Halfords sell cutting compounds.

Apply some onto your cloth, and then massage it into the lacquer, using adequate pressure, but not too much. Remember, the lacquer is still soft here, and so too much pressure will mark it.


Buff and shine part

Now, with your second cloth, buff it up to a good shine. Repeat this if necessary until a good result is achieved.

Finally, we need to give the part some extra protection with a good hick layer of polish or preferably wax. This gives it some extra shine, and protects the finish.

Refit the part, stand back, and admire your work!!


Fit part to car



*TIP* To speed up drying times, use a hair dryer. Donít place the nozzle too close to it, otherwise you may burn the finish!

I hope this guide has been of some use to you, and I hope it gives you the confidence to have a go yourself, and produce great results! Doing things yourself is always more satisfying, and a lot cheaper than paying someone else to do it for you!

By MattM3

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