How to Sand a Car

Painting a vehicle involves a lot of prep work and one of the most essential tasks is sanding. It prevents the vehicle from having uneven and rough paint. However this is a challenging task. An automobile repair shop can do this but if you are planning to save some serious money by going DIY, then you would have to ensure a good foundation for the paint by learning how to properly sand a car. Follow the directions.

Things Needed

  • Sand paper (#120, #320, #200 and #600 Grit)
  • Sander pad
  • Power sander
  • Air compressor
  • Wood block
  • Dry cloth

Sanding Car


Every inch of the car on which the primer will be applied has to be sanded properly, this will ensure a smooth surface. The bare metal should not be sanded down if the car is in a good condition as this is only recommended for those cars which have rust.

Those who are already familiar with sanding a car, it is expected that they would have to remove all the foam parts and external plastic from the body. This will make the sanding job much easier and will prevent the parts from getting damaged during the sanding process. It is also necessary to remove the head, tail and running lights. If you are nervous about any other parts like emblems and logos that can’t be removed, then the better option is cover them with tape.

For removing hard scratches, rust and other materials that spoil your car’s surface, a power sander has to be used. It is recommended to do sanding in a straight motion, circular is not good because it shows sanding marks through the final finish which you definitely don’t want. For preventing scratches, line it with a back-and-forth motion. If there’s a great amount of rust or surface damage, then sander pads might be needed. For safety during sanding, always use safety goggles and dust mask to prevent respiratory distress or other injury. Work in an area that is well-ventilated.

Use an air compressor to remove the dust produced by the sanding and any other dirt on the surface. Air compressor helps to do comprehensive cleaning because the air reaches deep into the small spaces that traps dust which can interfere with the final finishing.

The final part of sanding is the most physical. A 120-grit sandpaper has to be wrapped around a wooden block and move over less accessible areas and any of the areas that the sander could have possibly missed. Sanding should be done in a straight line. 200-grit sandpaper will remove fine scratches, then the 320-grit and 600-grit sandpaper should be used for a really smooth finish. Use air compressor for removing any dust produced. Before examining the body closely, use a dry cloth to wipe the surface clean. Now sand and remove dust using air compressor until you get fully satisfied with the job.

Additional Tips

  • Sanding a car thoroughly can take a few days.
  • Make sure you sand straight to prevent scratches.
  • Always wear a goggles and dust mask while you sand.
  • Sand your car in a well-ventilated area.

Further Readings: