Will Lacquer Thinner Damage Car Paint? (You Must Know)

You may have heard people raving about how lacquer thinner helped to deal with a stubborn stain on their car’s surface. However, they don’t tell you the whole story, which brings us to today’s topic: will lacquer thinner damage car paint?

Well, lacquer thinner can remove wax and hurt a car clear coat. In extreme cases, lacquer thinner will soften paint and make it possible to lift it from the car’s surface.

Today I’ll tell you why lacquer thinner is not suitable as a vehicle cleaner and what to do if your vehicle gets damaged by lacquer thinner. 

What Is Lacquer Thinner?

Lacquer thinner is a strong solvent and liquid thinner. It contains up to ten ingredients. Hence, it is a compound whose mixtures vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Lacquer thinner is usually used to thin lacquer, including lacquer paint, making it easier to apply on metal and wood surfaces. The chemical composition of lacquer thinner allows it to separate the lacquer molecules and makes the paint easier to use.
For this reason, lacquer thinner is a strong cleaning agent for cleaning paint equipment after using lacquer-based paint. In addition, lacquer thinner dries fast, leaving a streak-free finish.

Owing to the strong chemicals in lacquer thinner, it’s a good product for removing adhesive residues, paint overspray, and ink from surfaces. However, lacquer thinner is highly flammable and toxic. In addition, it is harmful when ingested or inhaled, and it can also cause skin and eyes irritation. Hence, proper handling is a must to avoid breathing its fumes or coming into contact with its sprays, gas, dust, or vapors.

Will Lacquer Thinner Damage Car Paint?

Yes, lacquer thinner will damage car paint. It’s a good degreaser and can even help remove tar and paint overspray from road paint. However, it will strip the wax and clear coat too. Additionally, if you were to use lacquer thinner on lacquer paint, it will cause the paint to come off or soften the paint enough to come off down to the bare metal. 

lacquer thinner will damage car paint

Best Lacquer Thinner Alternatives

Stoner Car Care Tar, Sap, and Asphalt Remover is the best lacquer thinner alternatives

Stoner Tar, Sap, and Asphalt Remover

Chemical Guys  Bug and Tar Remover is an alternative for lacquer thinner

Chemical Guys Bug and Tar Remover

How Does Lacquer Thinner Damage Your Car Paint?

Lacquer thinner is highly volatile and contains a high concentration of molecules that vaporize easily. It is so strong that it will soften cured, oil-based coatings like wax and the clear coat. If you leave it long enough, it can penetrate the paint layers and dissolve before it vaporizes.
Due to its strength, lacquer paint can also damage rubber and plastic parts on vehicles.

What To Do If Lacquer Thinner Damages Car Paint?

If you damage the clear coat on your car during a lacquer thinner application, you can repair it at home if the damage is not extensive.


Step 1: Use the Simple Green degreaser to remove any remaining wax on the damaged part. 

Step 2: Take the painter’s tape to mark a clear area where you’ll be working. Do not go an inch over where the original clear coat ends. 

Step 3: With the 800-grit sandpaper, sand down the clear coat. Remember to use a heavy hand on the most damaged areas and a lighter hand on the areas close to the undamaged parts. This sanding technique helps to create a smooth transition between the two areas.

Step 4: Now it’s time for the clear coat. This process is best done with a spray gun. However, first, test the clear coat on a scrap metal. It will help you know how to apply the clear coat to use evenly. 

See also: How Many Coats of Clear Coat On a Car ?

When To Use Lacquer Thinner On Cars?

Lacquer thinner has many uses on various vehicle parts. Here are the most common uses.

1. Clean Auto Engine Parts

Cleaning your car’s engine is essential for maintaining peak performance and preventing premature wear. Over time, grease, oil, and dirt can build up on engine parts, making them work less efficiently. When cleaning your engine, it’s essential to use a product that will not damage the parts or cause other problems. Lacquer thinner is an effective engine cleaner that will safely remove all types of build-up without harming the engine.

Follow these steps below:

  • Put on some protective gloves.
  • Soak a rag or towel in lacquer thinner.
  • Wipe down the engine parts you wish to clean using the lacquer thinner-soaked rag.
  • Be sure to get all the nooks and crannies.
  • Let the lacquer thinner sit on the build-up for a few minutes to loosen it.
  • Then wipe everything down with a clean rag to remove the build-up and lacquer thinner.
  • Your engine should now be clean and free of any harmful build-up!

2. Clean Car Exterior

Removing rust stains: Lacquer thinner can help lift rust without penetrating the metal. It evaporates quickly without leaving any residue. That’s why some mechanics use it instead of acetone. 

Removing pain splatter or tree sap on glass : You can also use lacquer thinner to remove tree sap since it dissolves right away. However, it can produce toxic vapors, so you should always wear protective gear. 

See also: How To Remove Paint Splatter From Car

Using Lacquer thinner to Clean auto parts and other engine parts,Remove  rust stains and Remove tree sap.

Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer Thinner Vs. Paint Thinner: Are They Similar or Different?

Lacquer thinner is not the same as paint thinner. As we’ve indicated, lacquer thinner can contain up to ten ingredients and is used to thin lacquer to make it easy to apply. Remember that lacquer is the preferred finish on furniture and cabinets. As such, it needs to apply without leaving bumps or an orange-peel effect.

Therefore, lacquer thinner is the go-to solvent for lacquer and lacquer paints. On the other hand, paint thinner is a liquid that acts as a solvent or thinner for oil-based and latex paints and other coatings. There are different types of paint thinners, depending on how they are derived.

For example, paint thinners come from pine (turpentine), citrus, and even soy. All these are paint thinners because of their purpose. To this end, paint thinner can purely be derived from mineral spirits or have additives such as benzene.
Paint thinner helps the paint flow better, and it’s also suitable for removing dried paint on smooth surfaces. Like lacquer thinner, paint thinner can also remove paint on cleaning equipment, such as painting guns before it dries out.

Lacquer thinner contains up to 40% methanol, while paint thinner does not contain any methanol. Additionally, paint thinner is 80% mineral spirits and 7% benzene, while lacquer thinner does not have any benzene or mineral spirits. Other ingredients in lacquer thinner include acetone, toluene, hydrotreated light distillate, and ethyl acetate in various percentages.

Which is stronger, paint thinner or lacquer thinner?

Lacquer thinner is generally stronger than paint thinner because it is specifically designed to remove lacquer-based paints and finishes. However, both solvents are quite harsh and can damage surfaces if not used correctly. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and take all necessary safety precautions when using either type of solvent.

Will Paint Thinner Remove Clear Coat?

Yes, paint thinner is a harsh solvent that can damage the clear coat and paint job if not used correctly. If you must use paint thinner to remove car clear coat, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and take all necessary safety precautions.

Will Paint Thinner Damage Car Paint?

Yes, paint thinner contains harsh solvents such as acetone that can strip away the paint job if not used properly. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and take all necessary safety precautions when using paint thinner.

Is Paint Thinner The Same As Mineral Spirits?

Paint thinner and mineral spirits are both solvents that can be used to remove paint, stains, and other finishes from surfaces. However, mineral spirits are typically less harsh than paint thinner and are therefore a better choice for most applications.

When To Use Paint Thinner?

Paint thinner is typically used when cleaning up after painting projects. It can be used to remove paint from brushes, rollers, and other equipment. It can also be used to clean up spills and drips. Paint thinner is also sometimes used as a solvent for certain types of paint.

Buy best thinner for automotive paint below:

Sunnyside Paint Thinner, Cleaner and Degreaser

Sunnyside Paint Thinner

Final Thought

I hope I’ve clarified that lacquer thinner will damage car paint. As you’ve seen, lacquer thinner is aggressive such that it will dissolve the paint even before you have a chance to clean it. For this reason, it’s best to pick less aggressive products if you want to remove paint overspray, tar, or grease on the vehicle’s exterior surface.

You may concern:

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1 thought on “Will Lacquer Thinner Damage Car Paint? (You Must Know)”

  1. Hi! I simply wish to offer you a huge thumbs up for your excellent information you’ve got here on this post. I will be returning to your site for more soon.

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