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The Wrong Way to Paint a Car

Q. I have a 1999 Dodge Ram truck, I ran over a container with latex paint in it, and the paint is all over the passenger side wheel well and on the door. Any suggestions on how to remove the latex paint? Will mineral spirits ruin the paint finish on my truck?

Please advise as soon as possible,
Thanks!

Out Foxing The Fox?

A. This has always been a tough problem to handle. You have to remove one layer of paint without damaging the layer underneath. The only good thing is that the paint is latex and not an oil based paint. If it is indeed latex paint, there's a good chance that you can get it off without damaging the finish on your truck too much.

There are a few things you can try to get it off. If the paint is fairly heavy, you can try, very carefully, getting under an edge with a razor blade and see if it will peel off. Latex paint does not stick very well to an oil base paint and if you have enough "bite" it should peel off easily. You can go to a parts store and get plastic razor blades that will minimize any possible damage to the finish.

Another thing to try is a product called SofScrub, or something like that, working a small area at a time. Go to a supermarket and look in the cleaning aisle for those sponges that are used for teflon pans. I can't think of the brand name, but they are two tone green. One side is course and the other is a like a regular sponge. Hot water will give better results than cold.

The trick is to find a chemical that will take the latex off and not the trucks finish. Rubbing compound is a good choice. Work it on the paint until it starts to come off. You can try a hardware store for a latex paint remover. Test it, or any chemical you try, on a spot that can't be seen, like the underside of the hood. Mineral spirits may stain the finish and I would stay away from any solvents like lacquer thinner.

No matter what method you use, it's going to take a lot of work to remove that paint. When you are done, give the truck a good washing and a good coat of wax, and let me know how you make out.

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