Getting latex paint off a car
July 22, 2008 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday I managed to rub my car against a steel pole with about umpteen layers of latex paint on it. It left a streak of latex on my car. How do I get the paint off without wrecking the clear-coat finish of my car?

So I'm at the gas station, and I'm backing my car (1996 Contour) up to the pump at about 2-3 MPH, and after I do so I notice I'm too close to the pump. So I slowly back out, move the car over, and then realize what this weird noise I heard twice was.

There are these steel poles filled with concrete that are there to protect the gas pump from, well, people like me hitting them. The poles were covered with about 100 layers of white latex paint. I was too close to the poll, and the top of my wheelwell rubbed against it.

The physical damage doesn't appear to be much -- a tiny dent that looks like it was hit by a hail stone. But it did deposit this white line of latex paint on the car. There was no green paint on the pole, and a little bit of picking at the white paint revealed the green clearcoat is still there, so that gives me hope I can get the white paint off and that'll be good enough. (I'm about to sell this car in a couple months, anyway.)

So, how do I get it off without wrecking the paint underneath? Buff it off? Goo Gone? Any ideas?
posted by dw to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
Buffer / orbital polisher.
posted by zippy at 9:43 AM on July 22, 2008

posted by rhizome at 9:45 AM on July 22, 2008

I've used WD-40 for exactly this. Follow up with a little polishing compound.
posted by sanka at 9:45 AM on July 22, 2008

I have used Goo-gone in this situation before with good results.
posted by Lame_username at 9:58 AM on July 22, 2008

posted by xotis at 10:00 AM on July 22, 2008

A light hand and a scratch remover compound. It was a parking garage and a bit more damage. Slow and gentle worked wonders on everything but the dent.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:18 AM on July 22, 2008

IPA (Isopropyl alcohol) then clay bar on anything thats left. Do not use polish. Wax when done.
posted by wongcorgi at 10:32 AM on July 22, 2008

Will IPA or clay bar remove the rough patches of evaporate left by the leaking pipe in my garage? It's a slightly rough surface that comes off very slowly with a plastic scrubber. Products like Lime-Off for C.L.R. warn you not to use them on painted surfaces.
posted by KRS at 11:31 AM on July 22, 2008

I'd use an oil (WD-40 is a great choice, but baby oil or cooking oil is fine) with the type of scrubbing sponge that's appropriate for non-stick pans, or with a credit card. If the scratch is small, scrape with a finger nail. Then wipe off the oil and wash the area with dish soap in water. I'd be tempted to use Goo-Gone, but it needs to be tested in an inconspicuous spot first.
posted by wryly at 11:46 AM on July 22, 2008

Claybar followed by wax. The clay bar may work on the leaky pipe patches but proceed with caution. A claybar is essentially a very fine abrasive and the leaky pipe patches might be a lot softer than a normal clear coat.

Worse thing about a claybar on a 10 year old car is that it might make the painted spot look brand new shiny. You might end up going over the whole car to even it out.
posted by Mitheral at 2:35 PM on July 22, 2008

Try a ScrapeRite plastic razor blade. These things are amazingly useful.

I've removed bits of unwanted paint from my car using the harder yellow blades and a little water. The most important thing is to keep the blade clean as you use it. A dirty blade may scratch the paint you want to keep.
posted by jupiter at 11:10 AM on July 23, 2008

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