How to Properly Prep a Panel for Automotive Spray Paint

Automotive Spray Paint

At ERA Paints, we many times are asked how to prep a panel for painting and clearcoat. We sell what we feel is the best automotive spray paint around, however if you don’t prep your surface correctly paint of any quality will NOT spray on and adhere properly. So spend a couple of minutes to read an intro to proper prep procedures. While you’re at it, please visit our YouTube channel where you’ll find lots of prepping & painting videos, along with a comprehensive catalog of How to Find Paint Code videos on your vehicle.

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First, before doing any bondo-ing, sanding, priming or painting, you should always thoroughly CLEAN the surface. Wash the area with kitchen dish soap (Dawn or similar) and water (rinse thoroughly, dry completely). This process removes dust and dirt from the paint surface.

Wax/Grease Remover

Then use wax/grease remover (rubbing alcohol is an OK subsitute) to remove oils, grease, wax, tar, bugs and other contaminates. Simply put: automotive spray paint or primer will not stick to a contaminated surface – you will end up with fish eyes, paint flaking, etc if your surface is not property prepped. Even the oils from your hands will contaminate paint surfaces, so you should either wash your hands thoroughly before starting, or wear nitrile gloves. Paint does not react well to ANY type of oils and greases. Paint surfaces can also be impacted by contaminates in the air. So never be spraying lubricants like WD-40 or silicon any near your project area – you would be surprised at how such particles suspended in the air can contaminate a paint surface!

Remember that a car paint spray can is pressurized as it comes out of the aerosol can. You’d be surprised at how much air it pushes, and this suspends dust particles in the air. Therefore be sure to sweep the concrete or floor before beginning work and either tape off tires & adjoining panels or wash the mud & dust off from them. You MUST clean off tar or any other types of grime. The paint surface must be COMPLETELY free of any type of contaminates.

You can find all of the best automotive spray paintautomotive touch up paintsupplies and prep kits for your do-it-yourself Auto Touch Up Paint project at We specialize in customize-formulated car spray paint specifically matched to your car!

Here’s a video from start to finish on

Automotive Spray Paint

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Some interesting Trends in the Auto Industry – SEMA 2018

Hey we just returned from the 2018 annual SEMA show (Specialty Equipment Market Association) in Las Vegas, Oct 30-Nov 2 2018. If you are looking to customize your new Ford F100, Jeep Wrangler or want to throw $100K at a restomod project with aftermarket/specialty stuff, this is the place to come to find what’s latest & greatest. Believe it or not 150K people attend this weeklong spectacle, second only to the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) @ 250K people… HUGE doesn’t really describe it. Take a look at their website here. “The SEMA Show is the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world. It draws the industry’s brightest minds and hottest products to one place, the Las Vegas Convention Center”. Sema is all about add-on accessories for your ride.

And if that’s not enough, there’s a sister show called AAPEX  – Automotive Aftermarket Product Expo – which occurs at the same time a mile or two away at the Sands Convention Center. Here you’ll find every vendor known to man who makes aftermarket parts like replacement alternators and LED headlamps.

So we attended a SEMA ‘future trends’ seminar, hosted the SEMA Director of Market Research. Here are some industry stats:

The Specialty aftermarket market segment is worth $44Billion (healthy growth at 4% annually) in the US. How do people buy parts? 38% of these sales are done online, while 62% are purchased instore (these numbers are not changing). Pickup upgrades are the largest sector of the specialty-equipment industry (29% of total). Following behind are SUVs & CUVs (crossovers) at 22%, and mid range cars (15%). The Jeep Wrangler is the most popular accessorized vehicle.

Some Trends:

-We will continue to see more & more smaller turbo-ized engines (4 cyl, lower dispacement engines, & <3 liters), as this is a good equation for better fuel economy & performance for smaller cars.

-Speaking of smaller cars, the Crossover market (smaller 4wd vehicles build on car platforms) is a very popular, ever-growing segment. Most crossover ads are about getting outdoors and being active.

-It’s true that teenagers aren’t getting driver’s licenses at the same rate as 10 or 15 years ago (it’s costly for teenage drivers – I KNOW ALL ABOUT IT!@!!$%@), but by their 20’s this population is buying cars as they need transportation for jobs & families. A third of 16-24 year old segment is personalizing their ride.

Probably the two most talked-about industry developments are:

-Electric: by 2025 18% of vehicles will be electric. Impediments to market penetration are charging station availability and consumer habits (people don’t like having to wait for an hour or more to charge the battery).

-Autonomous (self-driving) cars: way over hyped, too many manufacturers, very low consumer adoption for now. $80 billion has been invested in R&D in this space to date! Auto ownership is a big human hurdle to mass adoption of autonomous autos (interestingly currently only .5% of all trips are made via Lyft n Uber).

You can download the entire market research report from the sema website:

A Discussion on Spray Can ‘Weights’

Why does a 12 ounce spray can of paint not weight 12 ounces?

Occasionally we get questions about the weight of a spray can.  Mostly commonly customers ask “why does a 12 ounce can of paint not weigh 12 ounces?”  The key point to understand is that paint is a liquid and it is typically measured by VOLUME.  So spray cans identify content by volume (NOT WEIGHT).  And since a liquid  is typically measured by volume, the volume does not include the weight of the can.


Let’s talk about WEIGHT for a moment:  In addition to the weight of paint, weight is also comprised of the weight of the can itself as well as the weight of reducer and propellant.  Paint by nature is very thick – in fact it is typically too thick to apply or even spray.  Reducer is a required additive that decreases viscosity so that the paint will spray.  Propellant creates pressure inside the can and it is the ingredient that allows the can contents to spray out of the can.  Additionally, paint ‘weights’ can have significant variations.  Primers, clearcoats and light colors are generally heavier (more viscous) than darker colors of paint.

What you are getting when you purchase a spray can

So what are you getting when you purchase 12 ounces of ‘paint’ from us or one of our competitors (even auto parts stores offerings)?

-Reducer & propellant: 8.5 oz by volume
-Paint/primer/clearcoat: 3.5 oz by volume

As you can see, reducers and propellants are the majority of contents by volume (and weight), not only in spray paints but also for primers and clearcoats.  Our specifications call for 100 grams (3.5 oz by volume) of paint per can.  And the canning system we (and our competitors) use will allow a maximum 3.5oz volume of paint to be dispensed, and we tend to ‘fill to the brim’ the dispensing cap with paint.  The weight by volume of liquid paint will vary depending on how thick (viscous) the paint is (this is why some cans will appear to have ‘less’ paint/primer/clearcoat in them.

Here are the total (gross) weights of our products:

-Spray paint (12 oz by volume): approx. 13.5 oz gross weight
-Primer and Clearcoat (10 oz by volume): approx. 14 oz gross weight

So why does a can labeled with 12 oz ‘weigh’ as much as a 10 oz can?

So why does a can labeled with 12 oz ‘weigh’ as much as a 10 oz can?  This all has to do with the definition of ‘ounces’:  ounces can be used to measure weight OR fluid (liquid) volume.  When we look at the label on a spray can, many times we assume that 12 ounces is the WEIGHT OF THE CAN AND CONTENTS.  However, the actual definition is the VOLUME OF THE CONTENTS!  Furthermore, it is important to note that, practically speaking, the only liquid that both weighs 1 ounce by weight AND volume is water – most other liquids will be ‘heavier’ or ‘lighter’ by weight.  Paint, reducer and propellants are all ‘lighter’ than water.  However they all have the same volume.  And this is why a can of spray paint actually weighs less than primer and clearcoat.

Incidentally, we have MSDS sheets (data sheets) for all of these products, and these are also available to you upon request.  And rest assured, you ARE getting your money’s worth when we sell you 12 ounces of paint!  Just be aware that the recipe or formulation includes paint, reducer and propellant.

Need some spray can car paint? Visit ERA Paints Store for premium quality paint and accessories.

Scratch Repair and Rock Chips: the 5 big Myths


Applicator size the dealership uses for scratch repair

The scratch repair touch up paint my car dealership sells me is the best way to fix scratches and chips. Not true.

The biggest problem is with the applicator: it’s just too large! Most chips and scratches are best touched up with a fine dabber (like we use) or a fine-tipped artist’s brush…the kind used by hobbyists who assemble model cars and airplanes.

The second problem with dealership paint is that it tends to be thinned out with clearcoat. On light metallics, this makes the paint transparent. That is…you can see through the paint and into the scratch below. We sell you a small amount of paint without the fillers. Its color coverage is excellent. And it’s the same excellent EOM-quality paint that your vehicle was painted with.

You can’t touch up large scratch repairs

You can’t touch up anything larger than 2 inches wide. Sometimes true…sometimes not. Blacks, whites, solid reds, and most dark reds, blues, and greens, can be touched up, sanded flat, then buffed to a shine. It’s not a 100% repair, but it can get you out of a $1k+ body shop bill. Silvers, golds, and all other light metallics can’t be touched up beyond 2 inches wide. The metallic flake in the paint simply does not lay down flat. It reflects light in varying directions and draws attention to the scratch.

Touch up paint doesn’t stick to plastic

You can touch up steel parts, but touch up doesn’t stick to plastic. Not true. As long as the plastic surfaces have been cleaned with wax and grease remover or iosopropyl alcohol, touch up paint will bond permanently.

Touch up paint always looks dull when repairing scratches

Touch up paint always looks dull…like freckles all over the face of your car. This is true of do-it-yourself touch ups, which don’t involve the application of the “clearcoat” that gives paint its shine. The professional’s trick is to mix in a small catalyzed (two part) clearcoat with the basecoat (colored paint) prior to applying it to the car.

Touch up paint will fall out

Touch up paint will eventually fall out, buff out, or be removed by car washes. Again, as long as the scratch repair area is completely clean prior to touch-up, the repair is permanent. Touch up paint is of the same formulation as the car’s factory paint (urethane), and there’s no reason it won’t have the same lifespan.

Looking for scratch repair products? Look no further as ERA Paints offers premium quality paint and products that provide a long term solution. Visit our store!

Looking for how to videos? Check out our YouTube for up-to-date information on how to properly apply touch up paint. 

We pride ourselves on quality products, competitive prices and outstanding customer satisfaction.

If you are more interested in ERA Paints and our strive for vehicle care, follow us on our social media:

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Should You Fill Your Vehicle’s Tires with Nitrogen?

A member of the Dodge Challenger owners’ forum was buying a new car from a dealer and noticed green valve-stem caps on all four tires. The salesman told him that the tires had been filled with nitrogen, which would keep the tire pressure and temperature more consistent and that it would prevent tire rot from the inside out. It wasn’t a free add-on, though. The “nitrogen upgrade” was a $69 item on the supplemental window sticker. Another forum member later posted that his dealer was charging $179 for this same “upgrade.”


Some dealerships and tire stores claim that filling your tires with nitrogen will save you money on gas while offering better performance than air. But a closer look reveals that nitrogen has few benefits and much higher costs. For starters, a typical nitrogen fill-up will cost you about $6 per tire.

Why Nitrogen?

The Get Nitrogen Institute Web site says that with nitrogen tire inflation, drivers will note improvements in a vehicle’s handling, fuel efficiency and tire life. All this is achieved through better tire-pressure retention, improved fuel economy and cooler-running tire temperatures, the institute says.

This sounds great in theory but let’s take a closer look at each of those claims.

Better tire-pressure retention:

Over time, a tire will gradually lose pressure. Changes in temperature will accelerate this. The general rule of thumb is a loss of 1 psi for every 10-degree rise or fall in temperature. The institute says that nitrogen has a more stable pressure, since it has larger molecules than oxygen that are less likely to seep through the permeable tire walls.In 2006, Consumer Reports conducted a year-long study to determine how much air loss was experienced in tires filled with nitrogen versus those filled with air. The results showed that nitrogen did reduce pressure loss over time, but it was only a 1.3 psi difference from air-filled tires. Among 31 pairs of tires, the average loss of air-filled tires was 3.5 psi from the initial 30 psi setting. Nitrogen-filled tires lost an average of 2.2 psi from the initial setting. Nitrogen won the test, but not by a significant margin.

Improved fuel economy:

The EPA says that under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. The theory is that since nitrogen loses pressure at a slower rate than air, you are more likely to be at the correct psi and therefore get better fuel economy.If you are proactive and check your tire pressure at least once a month, you can offset this difference with free air, and you won’t need expensive nitrogen. We think this invalidates the “better fuel economy with nitrogen” argument.For many people, however, this kind of maintenance is easier said than done. Most people either forget to regularly check and top off their tires, or never learned how to do it in the first place. Even Edmunds employees (typically a pretty car-savvy group) were under-inflating or over-inflating their tires, according to a tire-pressure study we conducted a few years ago.

Nitrogen and your car’s sensors:

And though tire-pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) now come standard on cars, a 2009 National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that only 57 percent of vehicles with TPMS had the correct tire pressure. That’s because most systems are only meant to signal that a tire has very low pressure, not to show that the pressure is optimal.

Cooler running temperatures: When air is pressurized, the humidity in it condenses to a liquid and collects in the air storage tank you use at the local gas station. When you add compressed air to the tire, the water comes along for the ride.

Tire heat:

As the tire heats up during driving, that water changes to a gas, which then expands, increasing tire pressure. Because nitrogen is dry, there is no water in the tire to contribute to pressure fluctuations.But this fluctuation in temperature isn’t as significant as you might think. A 2008 ExxonMobil studyplotted the changes in temperature over the course of various inflation pressures. The lines on the graph were virtually on top of each other. In other words, the change in temperature when using nitrogen was negligible.

Prevent wheel rot:

Nitrogen proponents will also point out that water in a tire can lead to wheel rot. A tire engineer who anonymously maintains Barry’s Tire Tech, a blog on a number of tire issues, says this isn’t really a problem with modern cars.”Alloy wheels don’t really have a problem with water inside the tire,” the engineer writes in a post on nitrogen inflation. “They are coated to keep aluminum from forming aluminum oxide, which forms a crust, which isn’t very attractive.

But even then, this crust protects the aluminum from further corrosion from the water.”Where wheels have problems is when the aluminum alloy contacts steel, such as the steel spring clip used on wheel weights. It’s a particular issue when salt is present, the engineer writes. “But this problem is totally independent of the inflation gas,” he says. “Steel wheels only have a problem if the paint is damaged.”

Cost and Convenience

Let’s say a person bought a set of tires at Costco, a place that uses nitrogen to fill all the tires they sell. If he needs to top off the tires with more nitrogen, he won’t be able to go to just any gas station. He can use regular air if there is nothing else available, but that would dilute the nitrogen in the tires. He’ll have to go back to Costco and wait until the tire technicians can attend to the car. On a busy day, he could be there awhile.

Where can I get nitrogen?

Nitrogen is free at Costco and at some car dealerships we called, but these are rare cases. We called a number of tire shops that carry nitrogen and found that the prices for a nitrogen fill ranged from $5-$7 per tire. Assuming our consumer was diligent about checking his tires monthly, he could potentially spend about $84 a year on nitrogen alone per tire. Compare that to the most gas stations, where air is free or a 75-cent fill-up for all four tires at the most.

Finding tire shops with nitrogen could be an issue, too. We called a number of large chains, including America’s Tire Co., Discount Tire and Walmart. None carried nitrogen.

Is Nitrogen Worth It?

The air we breathe is made up of 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen and a few other elements. To get the desired benefits for tires, nitrogen needs to be at least 93 percent pure, according to nitrogen service equipment providers quoted on So talking about adding an extra 15 percent of nitrogen and getting rid of as much oxygen as possible.


Based on cost, convenience and actual performance benefit, we don’t think nitrogen is worth it. A much better use of your money would be to buy a good tire-pressure gauge and check your tires frequently. This is a good idea even if you have a tire-pressure monitoring system in your vehicle. The warning lights aren’t required to come on until you have less than 25 percent of the recommended tire pressure. Having the correct tire pressure will get you many of the benefits of using nitrogen and will ensure that your tires last longer.

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