Automotive Primer – Uses, Types and Purchase Tips

This article will teach you all you need to know about automotive primer, from its uses, types, application, and important tips to achieving a perfect body for your vehicle.

If you don’t have an idea of what an auto primer is, an automotive primer is a very important part of the automotive painting process which makes the paint stick to metals (vehicle body).

In summary, if you paint your vehicle without applying a primer to the body then you’ll likely experience peeling, and rust flaking in no time.

What is Automotive Primer?

Automotive primer refers to a paint-like substance that’s usually applied to freshly sanded metal (undercoat) before a layer of paint is applied (topcoat) and then allowed to dry.

Just like paints have different types, so do primer also; you can choose to buy an automotive primer that is applied with a spray gun or one that’s applied to the surface of the sanded vehicle with a brush.

What is the importance of Primer?

Painting or retouching a vehicle without applying a primer to the initial surface might condemn your car in no time. If you don’t know the importance of priming a vehicle surface in the painting process, there here are some below:

  • It has good filling capabilities
  • Helps in sealing against two elements
  • Primer makes the paint stick to the metal body of your car thereby acting as a bonding agent
  • Helps levels rough surfaces
  • Priming helps prevent rush and moisture by adding additional layers to your vehicle

In addition, A Primer makes your auto body last longer by preventing rust, peeling, or damage done to your vehicle.

It’s not advisable to paint your car without applying a primer to serve as the filler because you’ll watch your vehicle peel or rust due to the reaction between the metal and paint chemicals.

When do I use Auto Primer?

Applying a primer to your automotive depends on the condition of the vehicle. Whenever you’re dealing with bare metals, old or new, then you’ll need to primer the surface before applying paint to it.

Also, If you’re working on any minor repair that will require you to sand down the body of the vehicle then it’s expedient that you apply primers to the surface before covering it with automotive paints.

WARNING: If you scrape, sand, or remove old paint, you May release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESSES, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD ALSO AVOID EXPOSURE. Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA Vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log on to

However, if you’re working on a plastic surface or any part of your vehicle that doesn’t cut through to the vehicle steel pans then you can leave out using the primer as it isn’t necessary.

How do you Prep a car for Primer?

Auto Primer is applied to finished and smooth metal surfaces that are free of dents, dings, scratches, or makes. Here are a few guides to follow when preparing your car for a primer.

  1. Remove any dust either by sanding by hand or grinding
  2. Fill any large dents or scratches on the body except the primer you’ve chosen can fix that, an example is the polyester Primer
  3. Also, proceed to sand down any inconsistencies after filling the dent to achieve a smooth auto surface
  4. Once you’re done with the sanding process, proceed with making sure the surface is clean from any particles.
  5. You can also wash the vehicle and clean the grounded surfaces with a rag to enable better contact with the primer.
  6. Finally, allow the surface to dry completely before applying the primer paints.
Recommended:  Mullen Automotive Cars - EV Auto Review

If you’re confused about how long you should wait after primer to paint a car then I’ll say it depends on the weather condition in your area.

On a sunny day, A Primer should be completely desired for up to 2 hours but on a rainy day then you can wait for up to 24 hours before proceeding with the Paint application.

In most cases, it should take less though.

How to Use Auto Primer on a Vehicle

If you’re performing bodywork or repainting that will require you to sand your car to bare metal or remove rust then you’ll surely need to primer the auto body during refinishing.

Also, most primer products come in two parts which require you to mix them before use – they’re the base and the activator respectively. All you need to do is follow the mixing guidelines shown to you.

Although, some require you to mix more than two substances while some come in the complete aerosol form for easy and faster application.

Once you’ve mixed your auto primer then you can follow the below guide to apply them to the auto body.

The decision to use either a gun spray or a brush by hand depends on the size of the project in view. If it’s a small paint retouch then you can use your hand to make sure the job is perfect. However, a spray gun should serve on a large project.

  1. Apply the primer paint to the auto body carefully making sure you address all lines and curves on the car.
  2. After applying the primers, drying time might differ depending on the type of primer used, so do well to check the labels and instructions. You can also give it extra time to avoid getting a bad painting job.
  3. Also, most times you’ll likely use up to two primer paints at a time on a job and this is so because of the difference in sizes and areas it’s needed.
  4. Finally, do well to leave no auto body untouched to provide maximum rust protection and paint friction.
  5. Also, do well to wash your priming equipment and avoid bringing fire close range

That’s it.

Once you’ve finished applying the primer to the auto body parts then you should also give it some time to dry before you initiate the painting process.

Can I Paint a Car with no Primer?

YES, and NO, it all depends on the nature of the task, if it is a minor painting job that will not touch the metal of the vehicle then priming isn’t necessary, meanwhile, if the painting requires you to sand the initial body of the car then painting the car without the primer on the surface will only cause the paint to peel, break or finally lead to rust of the car surface.

Recommended:  Drivetrain Malfunction BMW: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Fix

Different Types of Automotive Primers

Your choice of primer paint depends on the type of job/project or surface you’re working on and just so you know not all primers can withstand deep sanding.

However, You can achieve a lasting, high-quality auto paint job and extra rust protection with a good primer base. Here are the different kinds of auto primers you can choose from.

1. Urethane Primer Surfacer: This kind of two-part primer surfacer is often used over a secondary base primer because it doesn’t offer the best corrosion protection.

It is applied in conjunction with any epoxy or fillers you’re utilizing to do repairs.

2. Epoxy Primer: In order to guarantee that the auto paint binds to the metal and supports a high-quality paint job, epoxy primer is regarded as a good standard base.

Epoxy primer for vehicles won’t sand and several other types, like urethane primer, because it is made expressly to prevent corrosion.

3. Polyester Primer: Polyester primer has the maximum filling capacity of any sprayable primer and has what’s known as an excellent “build” in the auto industry.

It fills minor scratches and bumps similarly to how adhesive or filler would. This makes it ideal for simultaneously filling bodywork imperfections and providing an excellent paint-bonding surface.

This makes an excellent primer for little repair and filling tasks but might not be the ideal option for a complete automobile because it tends to be a little more brittle and susceptible to breaking than urethane or adhesive once dry.

4. Urethane Sealer: This primer is the most convenient to use as a bonding layer for the paint to attach to. It doesn’t offer any filling capabilities, so it’s best to use on a car that’s in nearly perfect condition.

5. Acid Etch Primer: Another excellent, standard automobile paint primer. Similar to urethane surfacer, acid etch primer excels at creating a solid surface for paint adhesion rather than corrosion prevention.

Utilize acid etch primer in addition to a sealer or corrosion preventative if additional corrosion prevention is desired. Since this kind of primer dries faster than the others, it is frequently utilized in body repairs in car shops to shorten turnaround times.

This works best when sprayed straight to bare metal and coated with a secondary primer, such as epoxy or urethane since it does away with the need for a metal conditioner.

6. Enamel Primer/Sealers: Enamel Primers provide a good base for auto paints to stick to. They’re just like epoxy and they offer rust resistance.

7. Lacquer Primer/Sealers: Lacquer Primer dries quickly and sand well but they can cause cracks or bubbles in the long run, so it’s advisable to use them for small body works.

8. Moisture Cure Urethane Primer: moisture Cure primers are best for paint adhesion and rust prevention. You’ll not regret going for it if you’ll like to only prevent rust and also get a good painting output.

They also dry up quickly if exposed to moisture, so you don’t have to waste more time before you start painting.

That’s all the types of primers that you’d encounter in the automotive aftermarket, so let’s see which one is the best one to go for on our list.

What Kind of Primer Should I use for Automotive?

Depending on your automotive projects and needs, here are some Primers you should use for certain jobs.

Huge Paint Projects

If you ever need to paint the entirety of your automotive then the best primer to choose as a base should be Epoxy Primer since it serves as a strong adhesion and rust protection.

Recommended:  Tramlining – Definition, Causes, Prevention and How to Fix It

For Minor Repairs

If you ever need to paint a small section of your vehicle for any reason then you can go for the Polyester Primer because it acts as a filler for scratches and dings thereby giving you an excellent build.

Rust Protection

If the project is mainly to prevent further rust from happening then you can apply the moisture Cure Urethane Primer as it offers the best rust prevention for your cars.

For the best Adhesion/Strength

If you’re searching for a primer that’ll provide a good base for your auto paints to stick to them you can try out the Enamel Primers/Sealers.

That’s it.

What Colour of Primer Should I use for Automotive?

Most people often ask if the choice of color you use for your primer paints matters, and the answer is simply NO.

But if you’re looking for the best color you can choose from whole buying your primer paints then I’ll tell you to go for the Grey or Black color Primer.

They’re the most commonly used ones and any paint color can easily blend over them.

Do Primer Fill Scratches?

Yes, the Polyester Primer in specific has the maximum filling capacity to give you an excellent build. It help fills any scratches, bumps, or marks on your vehicle.

What is a Self Etching Primer?

In brief, self-etching Primer always requires you to spray another over them or the paint won’t stick to the automotive.

Remember I said earlier that some primer requires you to mix two or more other paints to get the desired result, this is what we call self-etching in the automotive world.

However, you can speak to your paint dealer to give you advice on the best auto primer paints to choose for a specific project.

How to Locate Automotive Primer Stores Near Me

If you want to get automotive primer paint for your vehicle and you don’t know which store you could possibly get them from, this article will guide you on how to locate one easily.

Firstly, before you proceed with the below guide make sure you’ve gone to any paint store nearby you and relate your need to any of their experts.

He/she should offer you a way to get primer paint if there is any location close by. Also, there are many companies and e-commerce websites you can purchase from, you can see the list of auto paint companies here.

However, if you don’t want to stress yourself doing the above research then continue reading…

  1. Navigate to Google search
  2. Type “Automotive Primer near me” or “Automotive Primer Near Los Angeles “ etc and search.
  3. You should see search results tailored according to your location.

automotive primer

You can then decide to make an in-store purchase or shop for the primer paint online.

That’s it.


Automotive primer is the most important that’s required if you want to apply paints to your vehicle to enable it to stick to bare metal.

Most times, the painting process requires you to first sand the auto body, and apply primer paints before finishing with the topcoat.

Failure to use a primer on your paint will lead to cracks, peeling, and eventually rust in your vehicle.

You can also follow the above guide to choose the best automotive primer for your projects.