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This is really more of a general bodywork question...but it applies specifically to the Insight and the paint on this car. So if anyone happens to know...

When I picked up my '01 5-speed last August, there were many great things about it (not the least of which was only 29K on the odometer!) but there was one downside -- the car looked like it had either spent its life towed behind a motorhome with no cover on the nose or it had been driven through repeated, severe sandstorms. The front of the car, especially the front half of the hood, was just pelted with "micro-dings," many of them too small to call "chips." A lot of them were so small that it looked more like talcum powder on the car.

I tried to take care of the worst of this with a product called Dr. Color Chip that is essentially a wipe on/wipe off process (http://www.drcolorchip.com/). It worked pretty well...especially for the really tiny stuff. But with the larger chips, as expected, the paint sat down into the chips and no matter how I tried to "skim" the surface to remove the residual paint, I was removing paint from each imperfection and still leaving a "crater."

So, after talking about this with a buddy of mine back East who used to own a body shop, I decided that the best plan might be to get the factory touch-up in the new applicators with the needle-ball and dab the paint into the chips, leaving a slight glob of paint that would -- in the reverse of the above situation -- stand up over the surrounding surface. After it dried, I would then sand it down and then use a polish to bring the paint back.

I tell you what, I have never experienced something as counter-intuitive as taking a piece of sandpaper to a glossy paint surface! I mean, I've seen it done on all the shows like AHR, OverHaulin', etc...and I understand what's going on. It's just that it felt so WRONG :oops:

Still, I went ahead with 3M 2000 wetordry and a sanding block, trying very hard to not put down any additional pressure that would unnecessarily sand the clear coat.

Long story short, it seems to have worked pretty well...and everything polished right back up. For sure, it's a lot better than it looked last August. But if I had to be critical of my own work, I'd say that it looks like I could have sanded more (which, of course, is preferrable to having it look like I should have sanded less)...the touch-ups are still visible to me when I really get down and look at them...and I was hoping they would blend better. But I was just petrified that I was going to sand down through the clear coat. In fact, in places, the sandpaper was starting to come up with a pinkish slurry (the car is red).

Does anyone know how thick the clearcoat on the Insight is? With a 2000-grit paper, could I have sanded more and perhaps further blended the touch-up globs? Or did I get about the best that I could hope for, short of re-shooting the hood?
 

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According to my body & fender man, the clear-coat on my 2005 red Insight was extremely thin, barely a factor.

Wanting a "show car" for weekend events, I had long planned to spend some extra $$ and really fix-up this car nice.

The day I drove the new car home from the dealer (downtown Seattle Honda) I began sanding with 1000 grit wet. I removed the bumpers, antenna mount, small trim. Then the owner of the body shop (a long time paint expert) sprayed about 4 coats of expensive clear (Sikkens autoclear III) and 2 days later sanded it out all the way to 3000 grit, then 2 grades of buffing compound.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Billy said:
According to my body & fender man, the clear-coat on my 2005 red Insight was extremely thin, barely a factor.
Thanks for the reply, Billy...that comment confirms what I feared was the case -- a really thin clear coat. Well, I probably accomplished about all I was going to with the light sanding I did.

As it is, there are some ripples in the body work on the passenger side (apparently where the previous owner didn't control the door as it was opening into something)...the paint isn't broken, but the aluminum is dimpled. I've had two body shops tell me that they couldn't guarantee that they'd be able to pound it out without the paint cracking. So they both suggested that I just live with the damage until the day comes when I'm ready to have the entire car resprayed.
 

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Are you sure the car even has clear coat? I opened my driver side door a couple of times so that it rubbed against the loose, flapping lid of a cardboard box--just a slight rub--and wore the paint on one small part of the door edge down to the metal. I think it has just a very thin color coat.
 

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Perhaps the thin layer was staying within the design concept to keep the car as light as possible :lol:

Sorry....I couldn't resist.

JoeCVT - Just your average CVT owner
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Dougie said:
Are you sure the car even has clear coat? I opened my driver side door a couple of times so that it rubbed against the loose, flapping lid of a cardboard box--just a slight rub--and wore the paint on one small part of the door edge down to the metal. I think it has just a very thin color coat.
From what I'd found about the Insight after I bought it, it has a clear coat. Not to say you might not have better information. And I, too, have seen the results of a very thin coat on the door edges.
 

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joecvt said:
Perhaps the thin layer was staying within the design concept to keep the car as light as possible :lol:
Honda taking a page from the book of Colin Chapman :? :shock:

The Insight's paint is, indeed, very thin. We have so many chips on the front bumper and hood, it's impossible to count them all. One more reason to be glad to have an Aluminum car.
 

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I can only imagine the extra weight and reduced MPG if a thicker clear coat were applied....
 

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Total film build on a car, this includes everything... primer, base and clear coat, is usually only 5-6 mils (mil = 1/1000 of an inch) thick. The "safe" amount you can remove is usually determined to be .3 to .5 mil of material. Luckily you didn't go through as you mentioned, but the only way to really know is to have a proper paint thickness gauge. These are expensive alone if you are working on steel body panels, the ones that will work on plastic or non-ferrous metals can cost thousands of dollars.

The only caveat here is if you did remove more than a "safe" amount of clear coat yet didn't go through it's still possible to create problems down the road because the UV inhibitive stuff is in the upper layers of the clear so it's possible in 6 months clear coat failure might set in. I'm not saying this is going to happen, but it's a possibility, I've seen it happen.
 
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