Parkers guide to car primer

Get your car ready for paint by understanding the different types of primer available.

A car that has been primed for painting

by Ryan Gilmore |

If you're planning on repainting your car then a good primer is essential for getting a decent finish. Thing is, there are a load of different types of primer available and not all of them will give you the right results.

We've researched the best primer possible if you are intending to get busy with the paint gun or rattle can. This list is by no means exhaustive, but any primer not covered on this list is used for very specific and specialist jobs only.

The best primers for your car

Standard primer

This is the basic primer you can buy for your car and is largely used for repair work in spots (e.g. repairing deep scratches) because it won't damage or lift any surrounding paintwork. It's no good for dealing with rust but is often the cheapest type of primer you can buy.

Hycote White Primer Car

The best standard car primer
Hycote White Primer Car
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We like this option from Hycote for simple primer because of the quality it offers. It offers good coverage and an even coating without running and the adhesion it offers is solid too. This set comes with two 800 ml aerosols making it great value for money.

Etch primer

Etch primer is perfect for applying to a bare metal panel. It offers excellent adhesion to steel, aluminium and fibreglass making it the perfect choice for restored body panels. It shouldn't be used for spot repairs however as it can lift existing paint leading to bad looking results.

Simoniz Etch Primer

The best etch primer
Simoniz Etch Primer
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This spray from Simoniz is our top choice for etch primer for being good quality, reasonably priced and the fact it can help prevent corrosion. Each aerosol is 500ml and is designed to be used on bare metal surfaces to create a smooth surface perfect for painting.

Anti-rust Primer

If you own an older car (or one that lived in a field for a couple of years) that has plenty of surface rust and you're not wanting to sandblast it then an anti-rust primer is a clever choice. They use acid to neutralise and seal any rust by turning it into black iron phosphate.

Jenolite Anti-Rust Primer Aerosol

the best primer for rust removal
Jenolite Anti-Rust Primer Aerosol
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Our top choice for rust removing primer, Jenolite anti-rust primer seals rust to prevent it from spreading through the metal. It can be used on steel, iron and aluminium and will offer excellent moisture resistance and corrosion protection. It's also touch dry in just 30 minutes.

Plastic primer

You may have noticed that cars feature a lot more plastic these days and traditional primers are designed for metals. Don't worry though, plastic primer is available for preparing your bumpers and other plastic body pieces for painting.

Autotek AT00PPG500 500ml Plastic Primer

The best plastic primer
Autotek AT00PPG500 500ml Plastic Primer
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This is our top plastic primer because it's really good value and is an effective way to avoid having to replace your plastic panels.

Filler primer

A way of correcting minor blemishes in your car's bodywork without needing to go to town with the filler, filler primer is a time-saving solution that will hide these imperfections and leave a tough layer that's perfect for painting over.

Jenolite Primer Filler Aerosol Paint

The best filler primer
Jenolite Primer Filler Aerosol Paint
Amazon

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We like this filler primer from Jenolite because it's so effective at masking those small imperfections that can spoil the look of a car. It's quick-drying and can be used on more than just metal (it works with wood and plastic too).

What you need to know about primer

Do I need to protect myself?

Primer is dispensed from a pressurised aerosol canister and is extremely flammable meaning you should avoid naked flames and store it away from heat sources.

You should wear eye protection because it's sure to irritate them if it goes in, also remember to only use primer in an area with plenty of ventilation because it can cause drowsiness or dizziness.

What equipment do I need for primer?

Masking tape and paper/tarp will ensure you don't get any overspray onto areas you don't want primer covering.

Sand paper of different grades will ensure the surface is smooth for the primer

Car washing products to ensure there are no contaminants on your car.

Prevention is the best course of action

Instead of having to fork out for a repainted panel, it makes sense to take care of your paint as best you can. We recommend investing in some paint sealant or looking at ceramic coating your car to keep your paint in good nick.

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