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How to: Prevent and Eliminate Peeling on a Paint Finish

How can I get rid of peeling on a car paint surface?

You’ve finished painting your auto, but the paint is flaking off. Sometimes that happens when the paint film doesn’t stick to the surface under it. Peeling can be repaired by removing the finish that’s peeling, then feather edging and refinishing. Severe cases will require stripping to the substrate and refinishing.

In this article, I’ll answer common questions about how to prevent peeling and eliminate it when it happens.

  • What is peeling?
  • What causes peeling?
  • How can I repair a surface showing signs of peeling?
  • How do I prevent peeling?

What is peeling?

Peeling, also called flaking or delamination, is when the paint pulls away from the surface under it.

What causes peeling?

Peeling happens for several reasons:

  • You did not properly sand and clean the substrate.
  • You did not apply an undercoat or you used the wrong undercoat type of substrate.
  • You did not allow enough flash or dry time or you exceeded the product’s maximum recoat time.
  • You sprayed your undercoat or finish too thin.
  • There was a problem with how you applied your clear coat, such as:
  • The clear coat you applied was too thin.
  • You failed to clean the basecoat with solvent before clear coating.
  • You failed to sand the basecoat before applying an additional basecoat or clear coat.
  • You used fisheye eliminator in the basecoat.
  • You applied a basecoat that was too thick.
  • You over-reduced or under-reduced your basecoat.

How can I repair a surface showing signs of peeling?

There are two ways to fix peeling areas:

  • Remove the finish in the affected area, then featheredge and refinish.


  • Strip to a bare substrate and refinish.


How do I prevent peeling?

You can prevent peeling by:

  • Cleaning and preparing all substrates according to the product recommendations.
  • Using the recommended undercoat (primer) for the substrate. You may need to use a special primer and flex additive to get the best results on plastic parts.
  • Recoat all products within the recommended minimum and maximum recoat time.
  • Apply a sufficient number of coats to obtain the recommended film thickness.
  • Follow all basecoat and clear coat application recommendations.
  • Adhesion promoter should only be used when specifically recommended (mainly for plastics).

Following these tips will help prevent peeling on the finish of your newly painted car.