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Primer is an important component of most painting processes, especially if you are planning to paint your car with a spray gun. It’s usually applied to bare metal surfaces before the top coat is applied.
However, primers can also be used to fill up light scratches and cover small surface imperfections when restoring your car’s beauty.
Unfortunately, with so many types of automotive primers out there, finding the best one for your car painting project isn’t always an easy task. That’s why in this article, we’ve analyzed the most popular products at the moment to help you find the best primer for car paint that will suit your needs.
So, let’s start from there!
5 Best Primers for Car Paint Reviews
1. SpeedoKote SMR 210/211 Urethane Primer
Intended for refinishing and repairing mobile devices, the SMR 210/211 primer from SpeedoKote is an excellent option for your car priming needs. The product includes thick high-build urethane primer as its major component, making it easy to spray and sand until you get a smooth and flawless finish.
Plus, it can protect the primer and base from severe weather conditions, fading, bubbling, harsh chemicals, and similar car paint problems.
Each primer can comes with 1 gallon (3.785 L) of the primer. In addition, the set includes a 32 oz (0.9475 L) bottle of multi-use activator to help the primer dry fast and provide exceptional adhesion.
Best of all, the activator allows you to thin out the primer without comprising the overall finish quality to prevent applying thick, ugly coats.
Another benefit of using SpeedoKote SMR-210/211 is that it delivers a perfect gloss and color handout after sanding. Specifically, it leaves a perfect medium gray color after application.
And with its easy 4:1 mix and high build-up formula, it fills the surface well.
On the downside, this automotive primer emits an unpleasant smell. For that reason, you’ll need a reliable respirator if you want to have a smooth working session when applying this product.
Moreover, this formula has high VOC levels, so it may not meet the strict VOC regulations in some states like Delaware, Maryland, or California. If you live in any of these states, order a formula with lower Volatile Organic Compounds like SMR-221/ 222 instead.
- Great adhesion
- Fast drying time (dries within a day)
- Easy to sand
- High-build 2K urethane primer
- Includes a multi-use activator
- Can be applied over old paint
- Has an unpleasant smell
- Not ideal for use in some states
2. U-Pol Urethane Primer + Hardener
Automotive primers can be broadly classified into 2 types; those that harden without any additional coats and those that come with a hardener. U-Pol urethane primer belongs to the latter category.
This means that you’ll get a separate hardener that you can mix with the primer to speed up the drying time, giving you more control over your car painting project.
For excellent results, it’s recommended that you mix the primer and hardener at a ratio of 4: 1. This standard mixing ratio allows the primer to adhere well to the bare metal surface.
Interestingly, you can also use this urethane primer and hardener as a sealer. However, to do that, you need to mix the primer, hardener, and reducer at a ratio of 4:1:1 to thin the solution.
That aside, this automotive is ideal for spot repair and large panels. This is because it’s relatively easy to sand and its formula has excellent surface leveling and build-up properties.
Even better, you can either apply it directly over bare metal, galvanized metal, aluminum, unsanded E-coat, and most plastics. Moreover, it keeps the surface in good shape and has scratch-resistant qualities.
After application, this primer delivers a neutral gray color when it dries, making it ideal for covering old paint and providing a smooth surface for the topcoat. At the same time, it dries up very hard and maintains superior adhesion properties.
In addition, its high opacity coverage and excellent film build successfully hide cracks, making it a great option for several car paint jobs.
- Excellent opacity for hiding cracks
- Delivers an excellent film build & surface leveling properties
- Includes a standard temperature hardener
- Scratch -resistant
- Can be infrared-cured, low-backed, or air dried
- May require thinning
- Its formula is not VOC-compliant in California
3. Rust-Oleum 286793 Primer Spray
Established in 1921, Rust-Oleum is one of the oldest car paint manufacturers in the automotive industry. The company is known to produce durable high-quality products, making it a popular brand among most mechanics and car enthusiasts. Well, its 286790 automotive primer spray is not an exception!
With its rust-protective properties, this primer will protect your car’s surface from rust damage. Its formula contains special ingredients that cover rust to ensure you get sufficient coverage for textured or damaged metal.
More importantly, the formula helps the metal surface bond with the top coat. Not to forget that you can even apply it on the most difficult car surfaces and still get an excellent finish.
So, apart from providing a perfect surface for coating, it will protect and seal the metal surface.
In addition, this universal bonding primer comes in a ready-to-use 12 oz spray can, allowing you to apply it right away. Plus, it can dry within 30 minutes provided you are working at the right temperature.
On top of that, this multi-purpose formula works perfectly on both the interior and exterior surfaces of cars, trucks, and other vehicles.
Also, you can use it on fiberglass, plastics, bumpers, trim, aluminum, galvanized steel, and other metal projects.
The only issue with this primer is that it may leave some rough spots after spraying. However, you can gently sand the surface once the primer dries fully and still get a smooth ready-to-coat surface.
- Comes ready-to-use
- Easy to apply
- Adheres to various surfaces
- Fast drying time
- Available in a set of six 12 oz cans
- Each can cover up to 10 – 12 sq ft
- May not adhere to some plastic surfaces
4. Dupli-Color EBPR00 310 Primer
Dupli-Color EBPR00 is a top-notch high-quality automotive primer that is compatible with all OEM surfaces. Thanks to its ability to provide protection and an additional gloss for the surface.
In addition, it’s relatively easy to use and dries pretty fast, making it one of the best car paint primers for beginners.
To make it even easier to apply, this primer comes in a 12 oz spray can. More notably, the spray can have an adjustable EZ touch 360-deg nozzle that delivers a wide spray pattern to ensure you get smooth, uniform coats.
Plus, it’s ideal for scenarios where the original car paint has scratches or is chipping off. Moreover, this primer is ideal for use on surfaces that need repair.
Regarding the formula, this primer is made from acrylic lacquer. Even better, this formula can fill scratches, ensuring you get a perfectly smooth surface before you apply the top paint coat or primer.
Lastly, this automotive primer comes in a complete line of exact-match colors, making it ideal for use on both later and current models of domestic and imported vehicles. In addition, this makes it a perfect option for small-scale touch-ups and priming vehicle accessories.
- Dries quickly (30 minutes)
- Ideal for a wide range of applications
- Ensures maximum coverage
- Comes ready to use
- Suitable for repairing damaged surfaces
- Only works best in the 70 – 80 deg F temperature range and low humidity levels
5. EverCoat 713 Feather Fill G2 Primer
Although Evercoat is relatively new to the field of car primers compared to the previous brands, they have been developing automotive coatings with their formula since 1953. And their Evercoat 713 G2 primer is increasingly becoming a popular primer among car enthusiasts.
For starters, this high-solids high-build formula contains premium-grade polyester. This gives it an exceptional ability to fill up minor scratches on your car’s surface efficiently.
On top of that, it protects the applied coat from shrinking. This primer is available in 4 colors of black and gray shades, allowing you to choose a lighter primer to highlight the next layer or a vibrant one as the base for your top coat.
It’s also worth mentioning that this formula is specifically formulated to go with 1K & 2K etch primers. Not to forget that it’s extremely easy to apply and sand since it dries within a short duration.
Best of all, unlike some primers on our list, it’s compliant with the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) regulations for the state of California.
Perhaps the only drawback of this primer is that it has a short window of usage after mixing it to get better viscosity. To be precise, it has a pot of around 30 minutes.
Therefore, you need to use up the amount you’ve already mixed as fast as possible. In this regard, we recommend mixing a pint of the primer at a time to ensure maximum use of the whole 1-gallon can.
- Compliant with VOC regulations in all states
- Works with 1K & 2K etch primers
- Resists shrinking
- Available in 4 colors of black & gray shades
- High-build premium polyester primer
- Not an ideal standalone primer
- Easily clogs sandpaper
Things to Consider when buying the best primer for Car Paint (Buying Guide)
Type of automotive primer
The type of automotive primer you end up using varies significantly depending on your project needs. Besides, different types of car paint primers tend to withstand sanding differently.
So, before you settle on any primer, it’s important to understand the different types of primers available. The most common primers on the market are;
This type of primer offers a good standard base to help the car paint adhere well to the metal surface. In addition, epoxy primers provide a quality paint finish and are corrosion-resistant.
However, they don’t sand as well as urethane automotive primers since they easily clog the sandpaper, especially when sanded dry.
Polyester primer is a 2-part high-build primer that delivers an excellent build and fills small scratches and dings. This makes them the perfect primer option where extensive bodywork has been done.
At the same time, this type of primer is relatively easy to sand, making it a great choice for straightening wave side panels. In addition, their high solid content prevents the primer from shrinking once it cures.
Urethane primer surface
This is another 2-part primer surfacer that is commonly used in conjunction with filler or putty when doing repairs. More notably, it’s commonly applied over a secondary base primer since it doesn’t offer the best corrosion resistance.
Urethane sealer is commonly used as a strong adhesive layer for the car paint to adhere to and doesn’t have any filler capabilities. However, it is a perfect option when you are painting a car that is already in good condition. Alternatively, you can use it to seal off a good amount of filler or bodywork.
Acid etch primer
Like urethane surfacer primers, acid etch primers don’t provide much corrosion resistance. Instead, they’re formulated to offer a strong bonding surface for the top coat. Plus, they dry much more quickly than other types of primers, making them ideal for use when you want to speed up the repair time.
Moreover, they eliminate the need for a metal conditioner since you can apply them directly to bare metal, and then cover them with a secondary primer like urethane or epoxy.
Enamel primers provide a perfect base for car paint and have a fair to a good level of corrosion/’ resistance. Plus, they’re more economical than some types of automotive primers.
These primers dry fast and sand better than most types of car paint primers. Unfortunately, they tend to bubble and crack in the long run.
However, they’re an excellent option for small bodywork projects. Also, you can apply them beneath a corrosion prevention layer.
Moisture cure urethane primer
As the name implies, these types of automotive primers offer top-notch protection against moisture and rust. For that, they’re commonly used in areas where complete rust elimination is almost impossible.
Even better, they cure quickly when exposed to moisture in the air, reducing the curing time in half.
Ease of use
The best primer for car paint should have a straightforward application process. That way, users don’t have to go through several steps to prepare the primer before it’s applied to the car surfaces.
In that regard, some car paint primers come in aerosol spray cans, while others have to be mixed with different solutions. Whichever the case, make sure you choose a product that is easy to apply.
Apart from helping the car paint adhere well to the metal surface, a primer should have the ability to protect the surface from rust and corrosion. So, when buying an automotive primer, choose the one with excellent corrosion capabilities.
This will help to prevent rust formation when you drive or park your car around wet surfaces.
Lastly, choose a primer that can adhere well to different surfaces including metal, fiberglass, aluminum, and more. This will help to ensure that the primer adheres well to any surface you encounter during your car painting project.
It’s always a good idea to apply a primer before you cover any surface with any type of car paint. This will help the car paint coat adhere well to the car surface, without peeling off over time, which may expose the metal underneath to rust and other elements.
Moreover, this will help you save a lot of time and money in the long run, especially considering how costly a fresh paint job can be.
Read next: What is paint primer?