Miranda's First Car




Introduction: Miranda's First Car

About: Computer programmer and electronics tinkerer extraordinaire. Writing coding since the 4th grade(1974). Scuba Dive Master, Eagle Scout.

Today so many kids are just given new cars and do not really appreciate the work that goes into fixing and maintaining a "New To You" car.

Miranda picked up a Red 2005 Chevy Malibu 4 Door from a family friend. She drove it as-is for the first 6 months to get the obligatory bumps and scratches that come with learning to drive a car done and out of the way. Miranda learned about "USED" -vs- "NEW" tires and parts for her car. We visited the local scrap yards for various parts such as door pulls, mirror, alternator and radio to name a few. Miranda learned how to change the brakes and plug tire when they get nails in them. Then in the spring she decided the car was looking a little rough and wanted to paint it.

This is that journey. (Major Parts List Provided)


Slightly Used 2005 Red Chevy Malibu 4 Door

$24.99 - Bondo Bumper Repair Kit 1 EA BONDO

$68.54 - Driver Side Rocker Panel https://www.jcwhitney.com/details/Chevrolet/Malibu/Key_Parts/Rocker_Panel/2005/FITN0707140L.html#plpslot1

$9.99 - 32 Oz. Bondo® Body Filler https://www.harborfreight.com/32-oz-bondo-body-filler-67721.html

68.80 - Passenger Side Rocker Panel https://www.jcwhitney.com/details/Chevrolet/Malibu/Key_Parts/Rocker_Panel/2005/FITN0707140R.html#plpslot2

$4.99 - 4-1/2 In. 80 Grit Resin Fiber Sanding Discs 5 Pk https://www.harborfreight.com/4-12-in-80-grit-resin-fiber-sanding-discs-5-pk-69977.html

$19.99 - High Speed Air Grinder https://www.harborfreight.com/5-in-high-speed-air-sander-68739.html

$19.99 - 6 In. 220 Grit PSA Sanding Discs 50 Pk. https://www.harborfreight.com/6-in-220-grit-psa-sanding-discs-50-pk-60661.html

$32.99 - 6 In. Dual Action Air Sander https://www.harborfreight.com/6-in-dual-action-air-sander-68152.html

$133.00 - 3M 08115 Panel Adhesive & 3M 08571 Manual Applicator Gun https://www.amazon.com/3M-Adhesive-Manual-Applicator-Sticker/dp/B00KSF9TCW

$19.99 X 2 - 6 In. 320 Grit PSA Sanding Discs 50 Pk. (2 packs) https://www.harborfreight.com/6-in-320-grit-psa-sanding-discs-50-pk-60421.html

$2.99 x 10 - 60 Yd. X 0.94 In. Painter's Tape https://www.harborfreight.com/60-yd-x-094-in-painters-tape-63244.html

$3.99 x 2 - 60 Yd. X 1.88 In. Painter's Tape https://www.harborfreight.com/60-yd-x-188-in-painters-tape-63243.html

$1.00 x 4 - Tack Cloth (bees wax cloth to remove all dust) https://www.harborfreight.com/tack-cloth-66578.html

$125.00 - Sherwin Williams Automotive Paint https://industrial.sherwin-williams.com/na/us/en/automotive.html

Step 1: Bumper Needs Fixed.

New drives always get too close to the light poles and miss-judged shopping cart distances in the parking lots is a task.

The bumper had to come off and be repaired, sanded and primed for painting.

Miranda used $20 Bondo Bumper Kit from a local auto store. Simple and easy to follow instructions.

Step 2: Rusted and Rotted - Rockers

Typical of all Ohio cars with the amount of salt they spread on the roads in the winter and as a result is it rots the rocker panels on cars all the time.

We found one piece replacement rocker panels from JC Whittney online.

Step #1, Grind the rust out.

We used 80 Grit Resin Grinding Disc from Harbor Freight.
Step #2, Grind some more.

Step #3, Dig the rust and rot out of the car.

Step #4, Sand and prime the new rockers for installation.
We used 220 Grit Self Adhesive Sand Paper from Harbor Freight

Step #5, Install rocker panels using 3M Panel Bond Adhesive.
Use clamps to hold the panels in place for 24hrs
We got it off amazon as a kit.

Step #6, Use a little body filler to fill in the gaps and sand it down.

Step 3: The Hood Is the Most Important

The hood is the most important. Everyone looks at the hood first. The sun and weather are brutal on the clear coat of today's cars. The hood needed to be removed and sanded down to remove the clear coat before it was painted.


Step #1, Sand the Hood
Again we used 220 Grit Self Adhesive Sand Paper from Harbor Freight

Step #2, Sand the Hood

Step #3, Sand the Hood

Step #4, Prime the Hood
This will cover the scratches from the 220 Grit paper

Step #5, Sand the Hood
Now we switch to 320 Grit Self Adhesive Sand Paper from Harbor Freight

Step #6, Prime the Hood

This will cover the scratches from the 220 Grit paper

Step #7, Sand the Hood

Step 4: Sand and Prime and Sand and Prime

Sand and Prime and Sand and Prime. Tape and mask off the glass and black parts you do not want painted. The key to a good finish is to sand and prime and sand and prime and then sand some more. The smoother you get the body the better the finish will be.

For 3 days Miranda sanded and primed and sanded some more using 320 grit sand paper.

When sanding it is best use a Dual Action Air Sander for the major areas and then hand sand the rest in straight lines. Avoid sanding in circles as it will harder to get a smooth finish and will require more priming and sanding again.

Ask friends and family to save their newspapers for you to use as masking (saves $)

Step 5: Here Comes the Color

Here Comes The Color. Finally Painting Day.

Miranda has put 60+ hours into grinding, sanding, priming, filling, taping, sweeping and covering.


We visited the local paint store and picked up a can of dark blue that was miss ordered for a car dealer. We paid $125 for the gallon of paint, hardener and reducer and a roll of bright white pin stripe.

The key to painting a car is to take your time. If you are hurried then that will show up in the final results. We were planning on painting Saturday morning but decided to wait a day because of a rain storm coming through Ohio. We waited because we did not want all the moisture while she was painting.

Helpful Tips:

Paint the car in even overlapping strokes. You should overlap the spray pattern by 1/3 for an even coat of paint. Paint the inside of door jambs, fenders, hood and trunk first, wait 20 minutes for the paint to setup then close the doors gently. When you start painting the bulk of the car start on the top of the car on the roof and work your way down and around the car. Use all your paint. You paid for it. Get a nice glossy coat on the hood.

Step 6: Give the Car a Bath

Give the car a bath. 3 weeks later the car got a bath and a fresh coat of wax.

Miranda did a great job and learned a lot about cars. She took her time and her car came out great.
Congratulations Miranda!

Hope you enjoyed this instructable.
Jeff (A.K.A. Dad the helper)

Step 7:

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    Jamal Horst
    Jamal Horst

    1 year ago

    Miranda should have her car under oiled to keep it from rusting again.

    Cats Science Club
    Cats Science Club

    2 years ago

    Very cool that you were able to instruct all this!


    2 years ago

    say you (Jeff) would be like Jupiter jones and Pete Crenshaw combined (from the 3 investigators )


    Question 2 years ago on Step 2

    How does the panel bond over the rot fare long term vs cutting out the rot and repairing the sill with steel? Was the replacement panel (rocker panel) steel too?
    Also, in the UK we have annual inspections (called an MOT), do you guys have that over there? For this side of the pond, if you repair a structural area like this by bonding a new panel over the damage and it is spotted by the tester, it's a fail - but of course this does not allow for modern materials and techniques. Welding a panel over rot is a pass (which always frustrated me!). I've always been curious about how modern adhesives hold up vs welding.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Here is USA we also have annual inspections in certain states and some even have bi-annual inspections as well as smog check stations. The panels we purchased were zinc plated steel. The panels are an exact fit plus the metal thickness of the original area and they fit like a glove. I have used the panel adhesive for repairs on my Chevy Tahoe and on ATV's with great success, the Tahoe is 21 years old with 258,000 miles on it. The bond once cured is permanent. The cost of the epoxy is minimal compared to the dispensing gun. Once you use this stuff you will not go back to welding. I have a friend who installed quarter panels on a old muscle car using this stuff and the seam in undetectable. One big advantage is the metal does not get scorched inside like when it is welded. The best part about using the panel bond is the time saved.

    I will post the repairs for the Chevy Tahoe soon.

    Here is a youtube on the process from 3M. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlzbLA5VWkc


    2 years ago on Step 6

    Way to go Miranda (& Jeff) !!! Miranda can dooooo it !! Wish my stepdaughter had enough gumption to get out of bed. let alone do what Amanda did! Brava, brava, "tu n'as pas froid aux yeux" as the French would say. Courage and willingness to work are worth more than talent.


    2 years ago

    That is amazing! I would have loved to learn so much with my first car :D


    Reply 2 years ago

    If you ever run into car problems or just have questions feel free to email or text me. I have a pretty good knowledge about autos. I spent most of my child hood behind a computer screen and in the family scrap yard with a wrench in my hand.