Having carbon fiber parts on your car can be a real showstopper. Unfortunately, most of the manufacturers that create these carbon fiber parts use a cheap final clear coat. Over time the finish on the carbon fiber part can become yellow, milky, and chalky in appearance. When purchasing carbon fiber parts you really get what you pay for, for the most part the more expensive the part is the better quality you will receive. Unfortunately, many of us are on a budget and cannot afford those elite carbon fiber parts; so, about two years down the road the finish our carbon fiber parts such as hoods and deck lids began to yellow and fade. Many people believe that they just have to live with the condition of the parts, but unknowingly to most they can be refinished. The manufacturers of the carbon fiber parts don't want you to know this because this way they can sell more carbon fiber parts when the finish begins to fade. You can refinish your old worn out carbon fiber parts at-home without spending a enormous amount of money on new ones. The cost of most carbon fiber hoods is about $500. The cost of repairing the sun faded carbon fiber part is only about $250 or less if you already have some of the recommended supplies. However, you're going to need some materials. Below is a list of supplies that you will need to refinish your carbon fiber parts.
You're going to need a cheap HV LP gravity feed paint gun (such is found at harbor freight, some 400 grit sandpaper, a sanding block, a quart of clear coat with activator, a tack rag, a 2 hp and 8 gallon compressor, and a gallon of Virgin lacquer thinner.
The first step in refinishing carbon fiber parts is to remove the old sun and weather damage clear coat. You're going to need to sand off the old clear coat down to the gel coat, if the finish on your carbon fiber parts is heavily damaged by the Sun and has a chalky and hatched finish you may want to start with 240 grit sandpaper to make the process faster. Then go over the 240 grit sandpaper scratches with the 400 grit to smooth them out. After you have sanded down to the gel coat on the carbon fiber part you're going to want to check for imperfections in the surface, you can do this by pouring water on the carbon fiber part and this will simulate the finish that clear coat will give the part. If you see any imperfections in the surface such as a dull reflection or old pre-existing clear coat then you will need to do some more sanding. After you've done your sanding and you have checked the carbon fiber part with cleaned clear water then you're ready for the next step.
Dry the carbon fiber part very good and used a Scotch Brite pad to remove any existing dust or debris. Use the tack rag to wipe off dust that you cannot see. For the next step your going to need a good mask for painting with filters and make sure you're doing this in an environment that will be friendly to sprain clear coat such as a garage or a large shed. Another thing to keep in mind is that you are going to produce fumes, with that being said you need to have an old box fan that will suck the fumes out of the room.
Depending on the weather conditions you may need to mix more or less activator into the clear, if it's cold then you will use slightly more activator then if it's warm outside. Mix up the clear coat according to the instructions and don't forget to wear your mask in the process, paint fumes can cause lung cancer. Before you pour clear coat into your paint gun you're going to need to put some virgin lacquer thinner in the gun and practice spraying. Use the adjustments on the gun to make a fan pattern that is approximately 8 to 10 inches in vertical width. Do not necessarily pay attention to the inlet pressure on the gun that is recommended, more importantly it needs to feel right; play with the regulator for a few minutes to get a good feel for what kind of pressure you should be using by spraying the virgin lacquer thinner.
Now you're ready to start spraying the clear coat. Began by mixing up the clear coat as the instructions explain. For this step you also need paint strainers, put the paint strainer in the cup of the paint gun on the top and pour the mixed up clear into the gun. Make sure your box fan is running at this point. If you live in a residential area you're going to want to do this fairly early in the morning so you do not attract a lot of attention from the fumes. Make sure that you are free of dust and debris so it does not fall in the clear coat that you are spraying. Try spraying on a test panel such as a piece of cardboard before you begin on the carbon fiber part, this will ensure that you have a good spray pattern and your pressure from your regulator is set correctly. Once you have done this now it is time to put some clear coat on that carbon fiber part. Your first coat of clear should go on wet. You will be putting on three coats of clear, between each coat of clear you need to wait a minimum of 10 minutes; this is called your flash time. You should begin spraying at the very edge of the hood closest to you and continue spraying towards the middle of the hood, now walk around to the other side of the hood and continue spraying from where the middle stopped and finish at the other edge closest to you. You do not want to begin spraying in the very middle of the hood, this can lead to dry spraying. Immediately after you're done spraying take a very good look at how you put the material on, if you have any spots that are dry hit them again. Now that you have your first coat of clear down wait your flash times and repeat the process two more times so that you have ultimately three coats of clear. You should wait at least 12 hours before attempting to put the carbon fiber part back on the car. If you follow all of these steps carefully your old worn out carbon fiber part will look brand new again.