How to Paint a Vehicle Fender with Spray Paint – Cheap & Easy!

How to Paint a Vehicle Fender with Spray Paint – Cheap & Easy!

Welcome back to the 6th Gear Garage! Today,
I’m going to show you how to prep, paint & polish a replacement fender for a fraction
of the price you’d pay body shop. I’m working on the $500 Toyota Camry this
week and I’m going to begin replacing this front fender, which was the victim of a parking
lot hit & run. On a cheap daily driver like my 225k mile
Camry, it might not be worth paying the deductible and having insurance handle the repair, if
you even have full coverage. I looked locally for a used fender in the
same metallic grey, but couldn’t find one. So I bought this aftermarket one online for
$30. Before I paint it to match, I bolted it on
the car for a quick test fit to be sure all of the body lines were even and nothing got
tweaked in shipping. If any body work has to be done, it’s best
to do it before you go through the painting process. Now that I’m sure the fitment is good, I
have it set up for painting. Most body parts are shipped with this matte
black primer, called E-coat, or EDP, which stands for Electro Deposit Primer. Some paint manufacturers say it’s okay to
paint directly over it, others say to use a primer sealer first. Let’s take a look at some of the products
I’ll be using today. I have a roll of paper towels, more specifically
the blue shop towels. They’re tougher and leave less lent than
regular paper towels. Some wax & grease remover. a can of primer sealer, two cans of color-matched
paint and clear coat. Here’s a scuff pad, a tack cloth, and a
half mask to keep all of these products out of my lungs. I have my fender on stands so I’m standing
comfortably and not hunched over working on the ground. There’s also a lot of dust on the ground,
which I don’t want near the fender. First, I ‘m using the scuff pad to scuff
up the surface to help the primer bond better. I’m sanding in a cross hatch pattern instead
of the same direction all the time. Here’s a before & after comparison of how
the surface should look. Now I need to clean all the sanding dust from
the surface using Wax and Grease remover, and a towel. I can see here I have plenty of dust from
sanding. So I’m just going to pour a little of the
wax & grease remover onto the rag to make it damp. And then wipe the whole thing down. This step also removes any grease and oils
from the surface, even though they may not be visible. Even touching the fender with your hands can
leave oils. It’s been about 5 minutes and the wax & grease
remover should have evaporated by now. As you can see, it’s still glossy and wet. This can mean the product is too old… A lot of chemicals have a limited shelf life. I’ll leave this blooper in the video to
remind everyone to always check the date on the product BEFORE applying it. Wow 2005! That might explain… I’ll use this PPG DX330 instead. This how fast a wax & grease remover should
evaporate. With the fender clean and dry, it’s time
for primer sealer. I’m spraying all of the hard to reach areas
first. These edges are the least visible when the
fender is installed. I do these first, so I don’t apply too much
extra on the visible areas while trying to cover the tight areas last. Once I have those done, it’s time for the
main surface. A big mistake is applying the coats too heavy. The first coat should look light and splotchy,
showing some of the black through. I can always add additional coats and that’s
better than dealing with a run because I applied the primer too heavy. Here’s a better look at how light the first
coat is. I’ll let this dry for 10 minutes, per the
instructions on the can and come back for coat number 2. A safe way to see if your coat has dried is
to scratch it with your fingernail in a hidden area. The second coat of primer sealer should be
just like the first. I’m keeping it light and doing the edges
first, then the main surface. I see I have a thin area here… and another
here… Those aren’t too bad though and will be
covered by the third coat, which is the wet coat. Final coat of Primer! This coat is called the wet coat, because
it’s a little heavier than the previous coats. I’m not going thick enough to produce any
runs, but this coat should be heavy enough to look kind of glossy once it’s down. This helps to fill in any of the lighter spray
areas from the first two coats. Here’s a close shot of the wet coat, while
it’s still wet. You can see it’s a little on the glossy
side, reflecting the lights. I let the primer cure overnight and its nice
and dry today. Let’s take a closer look… Everything is smooth and uniform… I’m running my hand across to feel for any
debris that might be in the finish. Oh what’s this… With cats, it was bound to happen… A cat hair landed on here and dried into the
primer. Hey it happens, so I’ll show you the easy
fix. Here I have some 500 grit sandpaper, and I’m
just going to lightly sand the area where the hair is. 400 or 600 grit would work just as well. Now I don’t want to sand too much with my
fingers and risk removing too much material in such a small area, going through the primer. So I have a foam sanding sponge. Using a sponge will make the sanding process
more uniform than just pressing with my fingers. This hair wasn’t very deep in the primer,
so I’m just gonna lightly go over the surface to remove it. I can feel some other fine particles of dust
when running my hand across the surface. So I’m using the sanding sponge wrapped
in 500 grit to knock those high points down with the rest of the surface. Be careful when using a sponge or sanding
block on an edge, because it’s easy to sand through the material on those areas. Now I’m wiping the entire surface down with
some wax & grease remover. I’m just going back and touching up those
spots on the edge where I sanded through the primer a little bit. I’m almost ready to paint, but the surface
still needs to be spotless, so I have a tack cloth. These are just thin cloths that are slightly
sticky. I’m just lightly rubbing them over the surface,
not even pressing down really. This cloth will pick up things left behind
by the towel & wax & grease remover. There you go, you can see some of the dirt
on the tack cloth that was removed from the fender. Now that the prep is complete, It’s finally
time to paint! I picked up a couple of cans of this Perfect
Match from the parts store. It’s supposed to match the Toyota factory
metallic grey. One cool thing I found by reading all the
instructions is that the little tip on the spray nozzle can rotate, to adjust the spray
pattern to be more vertical or horizontal. Just as I did with the primer, I’m spraying
all of the hard to reach areas & hidden edges first. Again, I’m keeping the first coat light. Now I’m going over the main surface… the
part that will be visible when the fender is installed on the car. You can see I didn’t even cover all of the
primer yet and that’s just fine. Splotchy is alright for this coat. It’s going too heavy that will cause problems. The second color coat is also a light coat,
just like the first. Now the color has covered up all of the primer. You’ll notice there’s some orange peel
happening. Orange peel refers to the tiny bumps throughout
the surface instead of it being smooth like glass. That’s just how lacquer paint tends to lay
down, and having a metallic flake doesn’t help. Professional urethane paint self levels much
better because the lacquer paint starts to atomize, or dry, as soon as it leaves the
nozzle, so it does’t lay down as smooth. But I’m going to fix that later with a polishing
compound. On to the third coat of color, which will
be the wet coat. This coat’s going to be a little heavier
than the first two. This helps to fill in any of the lighter spray
areas from the first two coats and will help the finish look more glossy. Once again, I’m hitting all the hidden areas
… before covering the main surface. Now I’m ready to start laying down the wet
coat on the surface. I have a drip on the nozzle. And another drip. I gotta stop here… The nozzle is spitting tiny balls of paint onto the fender. The nozzle was shooting little splats of paint
on to my fender. There’s a big one. There’s one. There’s another…. There’s some more. Too bad this happened on the final color coat. There’s no way I can leave this the way
it is… I’m going to let this wet coat dry and do
another with the other can to cover all of these paint splats. I took the spitting can outside and recorded
it spraying in slow motion. You can see each time I let off the nozzle
and the spray stopped, a little drop of paint followed. Alright I have a NEW can of paint and I’m
going to try this final wet coat again. Sometimes aerosol cans do that, so I’ll
leave that bit in the video instead of editing it out. So if you get a spitting can, just set it
aside, let the coat dry, and re-do that coat with a fresh can. This fender is a 1-can job, but I’m glad
I bought the second can, just in case. Better to have it and not need it than make
another trip to the store. Here’s a close look at the wet coat applied. Some of the lighter orange peel has been filled
in and the color is looking more smooth and glossy now. Also the tiny globs of paint from the spitting
can are no longer visible. Time for clear coat! I have 2 cans here. The labels are slightly different but they’re
both clear lacquer paint. The old one has a ball that rattles. The newer one has no ball inside. I shook this thing forever and I guess they
figured the ball wasn’t needed because there was no pigment. I’m using the older can with the ball inside
to cover all of the hidden areas, just in case this nozzle spits too. Now I have the new can and I’m using that
for the main surface. The full can seems to have a wider spray pattern
as well. The first layer of clear was light. I mentioned the old can is being used for
the edges, because it’s almost empty. The new more full can is used for the flat
surface. Here’s a tip about aerosol cans… The nozzle has a tube inside that goes to
the bottom of the can, and grabs from the very bottom. This mean when I’m holding the can upright,
as I am while painting these edges, it’s going to suck up paint at the bottom continuously. If I turn the can sideways to paint a flat
horizontal surface, the paint inside will flow to the side and the nozzle will spray
out air or shoot blanks, which can also result in spit balls. So now I have the nearly full can for the
horizontal surface. I’m able to turn the can at an angle to
apply the paint more evenly on the surface, than if I had to hold
it upright. One thing to be careful of when it comes to lacquer paint, is don’t spill gas on it. It’s not chemical resistant, so gas on lacquer paint is about the same as paint thinner. This coat was a little heaver than light,
but not quite a wet coat. I want the clear to be thicker because I’m
planning on polishing the paint with a cutting compound to remove orange peel, and that process
does remove some material from the surface. So some extra clear isn’t a bad thing. Final coat of clear. I still have some clear left in this old can,
so I’m using that on the edges again. If it does run out and spit any balls of paint,
it’s on the edge, which isn’t visible when the fender is installed, so no big deal. Now I have the more full can for the surface. This is the final wet coat and I’m laying
it on heavy, but not enough to cause a run. You can see that last heavy wet coat made
a huge difference in the level of gloss. That will dull down some once the clear dries. There is some orange peel showing, but that’s
something I can fix after with polishing. Look at the reflection in the door… Now in the painted fender. My work here is not done. Wetsanding and polishing is a step for any
paint job to look perfect, including do it yourself aerosols. This $500 Camry isn’t a show car, so I’m
not going to try to achieve a glass smooth finish. The orange peel on the fender isn’t bad
enough that I need to wet sand. Even the original paint has a tiny bit of
orange peel. Because lacquer paint is soft compared to
urethane, especially when it’s fresh, I only need to polish this fender to get it
to match the original paint. I applied some cutting compound and buffed
the paint using a terry cloth pad on a low speed orbital buffer. An expensive variable high speed buffer isn’t
necessary when polishing out lacquer aerosol paint. Wet sanding is usually done first, because it removes a lot more material than polishing… And the polishing compound will take out any fine scratches left by the sandpaper when wet sanding. I’m taking a break to check my progress. Right now I’m looking at the factory paint
on the A Pillar. Here you can see a good reflection. Now let’s compare it to the fender. I have some more polishing to do in this area
here. I’ve polished out most of the orange peel
on the top edge. Some of the contours are hard to get in with
the buffer. So sometimes they have to be done by hand. With the large surface of the 10” polishing
pad, it’s can be easy to remove too much material from the clear coat on some of the
edges and raised areas, while trying to get into the recessed areas. So I’m going to polish this recessed area
by hand. This takes some elbow grease, but it’s precise
and easy to control. I’m using the same compound on a terry cloth
and going in tiny circles. And let’s have a look… at that shine! Again, because this is fresh lacquer paint,
it’s soft enough to easily polish by hand, or low speed orbital buffer. If I wanted to wet sand or polish further,
I’d apply more coats of clear to allow safe removal of more orange peel. I brought the car outside to get a better
look at the final result. I’m extremely happy with this. You just saw the budget paint process from
start to finish. I’m going to let the car sit in the sun
for a few days to fully cure the paint, then I’ll put a coat of wax over the fender to
seal & protect the new paint. Here’s a look at the before… and the after. For less then $100, and that’s including
the cost of the replacement fender, I did this job right here in my garage. I hope this video will help you save some
money doing this job yourself. Let me know if you have any questions in the
comments section – I read em all. As always, thanks for watching and subscribe
for more how-to videos and other project updates, here at the 6th Gear Garage!

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. What a GREAT job you did with this video.  I really appreciate the camera work, audio,  everything…. As Good As It Gets….

  2. Please help! I was run off the road into a guard rail and banged up my fender and bumper.
    I'm afraid of being canceled by my insurer, so I'm going to try and do the work myself.
    I have a couple of questions. You mentioned purchasing the parts pre-painted. Do you know where I can purchase pre-painted parts? Also, the cheaper the better. Can you tell me where you purchased your fender for $35?

  3. Great video! Would you mind sharing what kind of cutting compound you used and how long did you wait before using it? How's the paint been holding up over the last few months?

  4. Why not just pull the original dent from the fender. Fill with bondo / prime / paint ? You don’t need a primer sealer also with that cheap Chinese fender

  5. Idk if I missed it but you can avoid those paint blobs by heating up the aerosol can with a heat gun. Creating more pressure inside, better spray.

  6. Good video…unfortunately i got TERRIBLE results with my paint. I had my color matched thru Dupli-Color, the surface was prepped, sanded, wiped down to make sure it was clean, wiped off with a tack cloth…i shot one light coat, 3 consecutively heavier coats ..making sure it was nicely and evenly covered…waited 30 mins and applied clear coat…waited 30 mins between coats…its blotchy, no gloss, terrible finish. Dupli-Color said i was supposed to wet sand between each color coat and before applying the clear. Sadly i wasted over $150 in grease/wax remover, tack cloths, sand paper, primer, paint and clear coat.

  7. You can solve the spitting can problem by holding the can upside down and spraying, it will clear the spray line

  8. Great video, Do i need to sand the color coat before applying the clear coat, not using laquer, the finish is quite matt, not smooth(has metalic )no orange peel, nice coverage.

  9. Showing how to fix the orange peel saved me from having to repaint my fender hopefully – thanks man!

  10. I accidentally nicked the paint with the can while applying the clear coat🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ how do I fix it? Please help me

  11. I second the other comments about showing your mistakes. For DIY-ers like us it helps to see how to fix our mistakes when they inevitably come up. Thank you!

  12. Is there any problem with not painting or priming the inside of the fender panel? Would leaving the EDP alone allow that surface to rust eventually?

  13. I'm about to use that kind of paint for my truck hood if I do it over the weekend you think the paint will be cured. Or good to drive by Monday for work. If I started the paint process Friday evening?

  14. Hi – simple question do you not need to paint the inside of the panel or just leave it in the primer it came in?

  15. What site did you order your fender from? The cheapest one I can find is 62 dollars. I have an 04 impala

  16. I got a fender from a junk yard and it's painted white and I need it black. How much of the white do I need to remove before I can primer it? Just scuff it? Remove it completely? It's on a old rusted Ranger and I don't want to spend too much more on it. And why do I need a primer sealer? How about just primer? I can afford a few spray cans, but I don't need a factory finish spending a few hundred dollars for someone else to do it.

  17. Great video, very detailed. Great to see the flaws were not edited out, show what to look out for. I am about to do this process myself. Thanks for the pointers.

  18. Told reduce the chance or dust and debris landing on your painting surface pour water around the surrounding floors and walls ( the dust/debris will stick to the water). It helps to have a bucket near by to make sure the floor stays wet! (DIY TIP)

  19. Hi. I noticed you didn’t do anything to the inside of this fender. I’ve researched this a bit and most paint shops use some type of material to cover inside panels. Reason I think is that e coat will not hold up to weather. Even inside doors, quarters, etc. I see others using gravel guard or painting these areas with auto paint. It means having to sand inside areas just like the outside. Most painters I watch sand the inside as well as outside with sandpaper. Then go over it with abrasive pads. Before painting. But great budget job for sure.

  20. Another tip I use is if you happen to get a bug on the paint or clear get a piece of tap and be careful but the tape will adhere to the bug removing with minimal scuff

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