Car Painting 101: Do You Need Primer?

When you paint your own car, using primer is typically one of the first steps. Primer helps the paint adhere better to the car, helps the paint job last longer, and gives it a smoother texture. However, not all paint jobs require primer. Here is what you should know about primer and deciding if you need it.

About Paint Primer

Paint primer is often used before painting your car, but isn't always mandatory. It is like a bonding agent, where it provides a good surface for the paint to stick to. Without primer, the surface you are painting might not be smooth enough, and the paint could fade, crack, or not go on evenly. Primer comes in just as many colors as paint itself, so you can match the colors and use it as an additional layer before your paint. It is also great when changing the color drastically, as it reduces how many coats of car paint you need.

Deciding When to Use It

There are some situations where using primer on your car prior to painting it is highly recommended. One situation is when you are painting over exposed metal. If you are providing collision repairs and need to paint a section of the car with metal that has been exposed, just painting it without primer isn't going to work. This type of material needs a couple coats of primer first before the paint will stick to the metal and go on evenly.

You also want to add primer first when changing your car to a different color. Changing colors entirely is a more complicated process. If you have decided to try it on your own, use primer first. Depending on how light or dark you are going, you might need multiple coats of primer, followed by multiple coats of auto paint before you get the color you want.

When it Isn't Necessary

If you are just painting a small section of your car, you probably don't need to add primer. This is such a small paint job, that adding primer is often just added work that isn't entirely necessary. For example, if you have a small ding on your passenger side door and need to paint it after repairing the dent, don't worry about primer.

When you aren't sure whether or not you need primer, it is best to use it as it won't harm the painting process.

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