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1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo (ZJ)
Trimming wheel openings.

September 2006

The hardest part about changing colors is choosing the color. At first I thought I was going to paint it Mystic Teal Metallic which is a blue/green color shifting paint. It was popular on the Camero's and Trans Am's of 10 years ago. Then I thought I'd go with a Sunburst Orange which is becoming popular this year. Finally I decided I'd paint it to match our other vehicle. A 2006 Jeep Commander painted Inferno Red Pearl. I picked out the color when we were test driving Commanders and this color reminded me of my first car. It was a sweet 1967 Chevelle SS that I painted a Red Metallic color. I spent over a year building that car with my Dad. Two weeks after it was finally painted and complete... I rolled it and totalled it! But that's a whole different story.

The following photos are taked during the painting process. If there is an interest in this kind of thing I may post some do-it-yourself tips for preparing your trucks for painting. This would be useful for those of you wanting to save some money. If you prep it yourself and tow it to your local bodyshop, they'll be glad to paint if for you for a reduced cost. Don't expect a warranty, you prep it, you're responsible for how it looks. As my Dad would say, you either have time or money.

Click on any image for a larger view.


Sanding De-Trimming Masking
The first step to painting any car is the de-trimming and sanding process. De-trimming basically means removing anything that may get overspray on it. There are various degrees of this. The most extreme is to remove EVERYTHING that is not to be painted. Not very common as it involves taking out the glass, pulling the engine, stripping the interior, etc. Leaving a shell to paint, with nothing to mask. In my case, I'm not building a show car by any means so only the "easy" stuff was removed. i.e. lights, trim, weather stripping, emblems, etc.

After everything is off it's time to sand it. It's a good idea to wash the vehicle and degrease before sanding it. Mask off anything you don't want scratched (like window mouldings). The trick is to sand through any clear coat but not through the basecoat. If you go through the clearcoat, don't go through the e-coat (factory primer). If you go through the e-coat, it will need to be re-primed with a good metal etching primer (2K primer). Sometimes when sanding out deep scratches or rock chips you'll go down to the metal. You'll need to use various grit sand paper ranging from 180 to 600, sometimes rougher or finer depending on what's being painted. The tool of choice for sanding is a 6" Dual Action Sander (called a "DA"). Stay away from the edges, these need to be done by hand. By the way, if you want perfection the entire car will be sanded by hand.

Then it's time to mask it off. There are tons of different masking paper and masking tape out there. We like to use a paper that will not let paint soak through or allow dry paint to flake off. The idea is simple, mask off anything you don't want painted. This looks easy, but it takes practice. If you don't know what you're doing here it's easy to over mask or under mask. There are also chemicals you can put on the car to help you out. Like adhesion promotors when masking rubber or liquid mask for chrome wheels, etc.

When everything was masked off, the jeep was blowed off one more time and degreased again.


Sealer being applied Basecoat being painted Finish off with clearcoat Finish off with clearcoat
Painting basecoat/clearcoat is pretty straight forward. Having quality paint guns will make all the difference. Knowing how to use the gun is just as important. We use gravity feed guns, most shops do.

The first step is to tack the entire vehicle down to clean any small bits of dust... this is also done between layers as well. A sealer is used to cover the old paint and primer, it's really just a primer, it comes if various colors.

Second step is apply the base coat. This is the color itself. Generally this does not have any gloss, it does contain the color tint, metallic, mica, pearl, etc. The idea is to give good coverage, generally around three coats should do it for a color change.

The last step is spraying the clear coat. Two or more coats is good. This gives the gloss/shine and also protection against small scratches and chips.

From here the jeep rolls into the oven for drying, or it can stay in the booth if you have time to let it air dry. Also in the last step is painting all the misc parts like bumpers, claddings, vents, hood, hatch, etc. The same process goes for the parts.


Fit front bumper to measure Fit rear bumper to measure Fit rear bumper to measure Cutting the plastic parts Gluing the lip in place
Here it is painted along with some of the painted parts.

Here is where it will get wet sanded... yes you can sand a new paint job! This is done if you want a smoother finish or to remove any little specks of dust that may be in the paint (hopefully not). Time for reassembly. This is a tedious process, it's a lot quicker taking the stuff off than putting it back on. And greater car must be taken, now is not a good time to scratch the paint.

After everything is assembled it will be vacuumed and cleaned... and considered done!



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