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7,494 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Painting your hatch trim strip

Strip removal time needed: 15-20 minutes
Working time needed: 2 hours
Overall drying time time: 10 hours
Strip installation time: 10-15 minutes

Materials needed:
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • 10mm socket with screwdriver base
  • Painter's tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Cardboard
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Clear coat
Note! This was done on my 2005 ZX3, and only that car. I am not responsible for any damage you do due to failure of examining your personal car prior to following any step within this walkthrough. Be sure to check everything over before you start!

Removing hatch trim strip:

Start by opening your hatch, locating all 4 screws. Each side has 2 screws, pictured like this:

After removing all 4 screws, you will see small screw caps inside the holes. These will try to come out as you start pulling down on the hatch, so be careful.

The way I conquered the hatch panel was by pulling down forcefully on all 4 corners. Remember about those caps.

Once all 4 corners are nice and loose, you will need to work your fingers around the perimeter of the panel. There are metal clips that are tough to get out by pulling at each corner.

I had a hard time getting the clips near the wiper motor off, so I shoved my hand in and pushed down on the panel, away from the motor, instead of pulling near the motor.

Once the panel comes off, this is what the inside part of the plastic panel, plus the inside part of the bare hatch now look like:

There are five 10mm nuts that need to be removed. Four are very visible, with holes revealing their positions, while one is hidden behind the wiper motor.

My screwdriver allowed a 10mm socket to go on, which was the EASIEST way I could imagine doing it. I couldn't imagine doing this with a socket wrench.

To get the strip off, I had to remove my license plate, but that was nothing more than 4 flat head screws.

Now that the strip is nearly off, we can see the two license plate lights that are attached with 2 wires each. These wires simply slide off the lights, so just be careful.

Your strip should now be removed!

Remove the license plate lights, because we do not want to paint these. There are 2 different ends to these, one is a rounded clip and the other looks like 2 prong wedges. You need to push on the rounded clip part to pop the plastic cover out.

The light will rotate on its hinge (the other end), so you must turn the strip around and pull it out.

Preparing to paint:

Tape off the Ford emblem with painter's tape and place your trim strip on a nice stable surface, and give it a nice wash and dry to remove any surface blemishes.

Once dried, give the strip a nice sanding, to remove any blemishes that could show up in the paint. Be sure to scratch the surface up properly, since the primer is going to need to stick to the plastic.

Be sure to take your time, and you will end up with a trim strip looking like how mine came out:


After sanding down the plastic thoroughly, we now use our cardboard as a base for our painting. We do not want to get paint anywhere, so try to enclose the area properly, but allow sunlight and fresh air to be around.

Shake the can of primer thoroughly for approximately two minutes.

Spray one light coat of primer along the surface of the strip. Do not forget to get the underside, since it will still be visible to people outside the car.

Allow ten to twenty minutes of drying time for each coat. I used the sunlight to dry my strip faster.

Continue with approximately four or five more coats, ensuring equal distribution of the primer on the dry surface of the previously primered strip.

Once completed, use a very fine sandpaper to roughen up the primered surface without ripping up the primer.

We are done priming and now we are moving on to the actual painting of the strip. Begin by shaking up the can of paint thoroughly for two minutes.

Just like the primer, we start by giving the strip a light coat of paint (in my case, CD Silver paint) and allowing the paint to dry for approximately twenty minutes per coat.

Be sure not to make heavy coats, otherwise you will be fighting drops and runs!

Continue with as many coats as you need. Here is what mine looked like at the end of the painting process.

Continue by shaking the can of clear coat for two minutes.

Start by laying a very light layer of clear coat on the painted surface of the trim strip. This coat will act as the base for the next layers. Allow this coat to dry for fifteen to twenty minutes.

Return and spray on three or so more coats, which can get gradually heavier. The heavier the clear coat layer, the more shine the trim will have. Just remember there is such a thing as too little or too much clear coat.

Allow the strip to dry overnight. Have a nice dinner, a few cold beers (or glasses of whisky in my case), and wake up bright and early tomorrow.

Return to the trim strip and examine for any defects, which would require wet sanding with a very very fine grain piece of wet sandpaper.

Replace the license plate lights by wedging the 2 prong side in, and pushing on the other side. Remove the painter's tape from the Ford emblem.

Install is the same as removal, only reversed.

Here is what my final result looks like:

Hope you liked the how to. Any questions can be posted in this thread. Since I took the time to write this, I would appreciate some
. Thank you!


Painting your side mirror caps

891 Posts
thats a good write up...I wonder if dupli color has sonic blue paint...i want my hatch painted lol

7,494 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
The grits I have are strange, they're P grits, which I don't know the conversion to regular grit.. I will look tomorrow.

Busy Monkey
4,461 Posts
Thanks, great write up.
Here's how mine turned out, it looks way better. [8D]
I spent a few days on it to make sure I did a good job.
It has no runs, fish eyes, or dust specks in it [thumb]

453 Posts
i started doing this yesterday. i sanded for 3 hours using a couple different grit papers. and today i primed it. it would be so much easier if i had an extra hatch strip, cant drive to work in the morning or at night without license plate bulbs it sucks.

453 Posts
thats ghetto, im afraid some one would just walk by and rip it off, then again driving around with a primed hatch strip looks silly too but whatever[limp]
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