BMW Peeling or Cracking Clear Coat Paint
This answer is applicable for many BMWs in addition to the one listed below.
car year: 1996
car model: 318i
Dear Otto: I don’t know if you guys have a body work expert, but I bet you do…here’s the problem: my ’96 318i is great in every way, except that for the past 10 years the clear coat has been blistering and peeling off. It started a little here and there, but by now about 25% of it is gone, making my car look like it has eczema! The underlying white paint is fine. 1. Why is this happening [the car is stored inside and generally well-cared for]? 2. Does the car need to be media-blasted to remove the rest of the clear-coat before it can be repainted? Or, is there another way to remove the rest of the clear coat? 3. Did BMW ever have a recall on this issue…was it a significant concern?
The clear-coat peeling has been a minor to moderate problem on many BMW models up through the ’90s (and to a lesser degree, into the 2000s). BMW has never recognized this as a warranty or other responsibility issue. Really, once the clear-coat is cracking and/or peeling, the only recourse is to fully remove it and “start over”. The clear-coat must be sanded off, at least in the peeling or cracking areas and then feathered into the solid areas. When all of the peeling or cracking has been removed, a fresh coat of paint (clear or clear plus color) can be applied.