The Best Way to Paint a Wrangler

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The Jeep Wrangler is a great vehicle to paint thanks to the number of parts on the vehicle that can be quickly and easily removed. Other vehicles have literally hundreds of pounds of trim and plastic parts that need to be removed prior to painting. The Jeep Wrangler requires a tougher paint, however, which is not so much a type of paint, but the way that it is applied. This helps prevent nicks and scratches when the Jeep is off road.

Things You'll Need

  • 3/8-in. drive socket set
  • Screwdrivers
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Masking tape
  • Masking paper
  • Wax and grease remover
  • Clean rags
  • HVLP spray gun
  • Automotive paint
  • Automotive clear coat
  • 1000-grit wet/dry sandpaper
  • Orbital buffer
  • Polishing compound
  • Remove parts from the vehicle that you do not wish to paint using the screwdrivers and socket set. This includes the fender flares, side view mirrors, bumpers, bikini top, headlights, taillights and door handles. Also remove the spare tire carrier, tow hooks and windshield wipers to ease the painting process.

  • Remove any decals or stickers left on the Wrangler. Early wranglers with intact hood eagles in good condition may be worth keeping, as they are expensive to replace with reproduction stickers.

  • Clean the Wrangler thoroughly with soap and water, including the engine compartment, under the hood, chassis, and the interior. This prevents old excess dust or dirt from contaminating the paint.

  • Wet one clean rag with wax and grease remover and wipe the vehicle's surface to clean away any grease and wax that did not come off during the washing process. Follow the wet rag with a dry rag quickly to avoid allowing the wax and grease remover to dry on the surface.

  • Mask off the areas of the vehicle that could not be removed, but that should not be painted, using the masking paper and masking tape. This includes the engine compartment, windshield, wheels and chassis. Also, slide a piece of masking paper behind the Wrangler's open grill to prevent paint from getting on the radiator. Mask off interior pieces that could not be removed, such as the dashboard and steering wheel.

  • Scuff the surface of the old paint using the gray scuff pad to remove any trace of gloss from the vehicle surface. Because fresh paint will not adhere to gloss, anywhere the vehicle is to be painted must be scuffed. If you are painting the rear cargo area, open the tailgate and scuff the door jambs as well.

  • Clean the surface again with a fresh rag dampened with wax and grease remover followed by a clean, dry rag. This removes the dust created by scuffing the vehicle, which would contaminate the paint and create what are called "fish eyes."

  • Fill the spray gun reservoir with your choice of paint, and then attach the spray gun to its air compressor. Paint the underside of the hood first, then lower the hood gently and continue working along the center line of the Wrangler, working from the front to the back of the hood. Overlap each stroke by one-half to ensure good coverage of the paint. Next paint the windshield frame, taking care to unlock the frame and lower it so that you can paint the hinges between the hood and the frame.

  • Continue painting the front of the Wrangler, working from the front end around the vehicle in a counter-clockwise direction. Take care to paint the door jambs as well as the visible metal parts in the Wrangler's interior.

  • Allow the paint to tack up according to the package instructions, then apply the clear top coat in exactly the same way that you applied the paint. You do not have to apply clear coat to the underside of the hood. Allow the clear top coat to dry completely before sanding and buffing.

  • Sand the Wrangler with 1000-grit wet/dry sandpaper and water, but do not attempt to make the finish too smooth. Smoothing to the point of glass smoothness makes scratches more apparent in the vehicle's surface. Instead, sand the surface lightly, then buff to give the finish what is called "orange peel." This is a slightly textured surface that helps hide scratches.

References

  • "Practical Auto & Truck Restoration"; John Gunnell; 2010
  • "Pro Paint & Body"; Jim Richardson; 2002
  • "How to Paint Your Car on a Budget"; Pat Ganahl; 2006
  • Photo Credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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