How to Refinish a Carbon Fiber Hood With Clear Coat

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Carbon fiber is an ultra-lightweight, extremely durable material originally used to make precision molded aircraft parts. Carbon fiber has become popular for automotive parts, particularly in the aftermarket. Carbon fiber is a black and gray material with a distinctive square or diamond checked weave pattern. Some automotive applications of carbon fiber are merely cosmetic, such as dashboard trim. But a carbon fiber hood has a performance purpose: It makes the car lighter and holds up to the stresses of race driving. Still, a carbon fiber hood can be damaged. Bugs and rocks can cause nicks in the carbon fiber, for instance. Refinishing a carbon fiber hood with clear coat can make the hood smooth, shiny and bright again. Remove the hood from the car, or cover every part of the car except for the hood.

Things You'll Need

  • 600-grit sandpaper
  • 900-grit sandpaper
  • Water
  • Clear coat spray
  • Use 600-grit sandpaper to sand the entire outer surface of the carbon fiber hood. Keep the sandpaper and your hand flat against the surface. The sandpaper should stay soaking wet with water the entire time. Hold a running water hose over the sandpaper -- a helper simplifies the task -- or continuously dunk the paper into a bucket of water. Rinse the hood to make sure it is dull, with no shiny areas.

  • Sand the hood again using 900-grit sandpaper and water. This smooths the scratches from the 600-grit sandpaper and makes the surface as smooth as possible. Rinse the hood and allow it to dry completely.

  • Spray three to four coats of clear coat paint on the carbon fiber hood. Hold the sprayer 6 to 8 inches from the surface and use left-to-right-and-back motions, beginning at the top of the hood near the windshield and working down toward the front end. Wait five minutes between each coat and wait one full day before handling the hood.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't spray paint inside a closed building without proper ventilation.
  • Don't sand the hood too hard, or the carbon fiber design can become distorted. Keep the sandpaper flat on the surface.
  • Photo Credit Yasuhide Fumoto/Photodisc/Getty Images
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