Spray paint primers are a great way to prime your car before painting it with a new color. But what is the best spray primer?
We’ve gathered feedback from people who have used these products and sorted them out to find the best automotive spray primer products for you.
These top 10 products have been handpicked among hundreds of choices available in the market and can serve you better without costing you more than those crappy products.
So, without any further ado, let’s get into the topic.
Top 10 Best Automotive Primer in a Spray Can:
1. U-POL 0741V Acid#8 Etch Primer Gray Aerosol
Our first pick for you is the U-POL 0741V Acid#8 Etch Primer Gray Aerosol. It’s a bit pricey when you compare it to other spray can auto primers, but this primer outperformed all the others on this list when it comes to performance. And we only had to do it once!
From everything we checked out about this product (and believe us, that took hours), Acid #8 is our recommendation for professional auto priming, as it performs very well even on problematic substrates like aluminum, diamond plate, and galvanized steel.
It promotes paint adhesion to bare metal surfaces, which means this is the product you should be looking at when thinking of raptor-lining your vehicle. For its unmatched adhesion to metal surfaces, we consider this as the best automotive primer for bare metal.
We did see that it ended up with drips when spraying horizontal surfaces due to the low positioning of the nozzle, but you can avoid this by giving it a small flick now and then.
However, you have to stay safe when using this primer since its noxious fumes can clog up your sinuses in seconds!
- High flash point of 41.0
- Light spray gives you more delicate control over the thickness of the coating.
- 13 fl. Oz. can is enough for a layer on most small to medium vehicles
- Can be painted over without problems
- No sanding is required for superior adhesion.
- Expensive compared to a lot of other auto primers.
2. Dupli-Color CP199 Clear Adhesion Promoter Primer
The Dupli-Color CP199 Clear Adhesion Promoter Primer ranks high on our list as one of the best auto primers for use on plastic surfaces. It works on everything from Chrome to Metal, but this is the primer you should look at for coating ABS plastic.
Like the Acid #8 self-etching primer, the Dupli-Color CP199 is meant for both professional and hobby use as it is intended for use on all types of ABS plastic surfaces. This includes automotive plastic surfaces like bumper and mirrors and even IKEA plastic laminate surfaces!
Dupli-color provides precise instructions on the back of this spray can, which are both a benefit and a drawback. They’re highly detailed, making it easy for first-time users, but you also have to follow them to the letter or risk getting a cloudy sheen on your plastic.
It’s not just meant for painting plastic surfaces, though. The Dupli-Color CP199 is perfect for applying Bedliner on metal grills.
However, the can is only 11 oz, which means it comes with even less product than Acid #8. Don’t expect more than one use out of this, with a maximum of two if you’re using it for coating small surfaces.
- You don’t need to wait for the primer to dry.
- Helps paint adhere to plastic for months in harsh conditions
- It works perfectly for all types of surfaces.
- It can be used before applying Bedliner to metal surfaces.
- It doesn’t work for urethane-based paints.
- The can comes with a low quantity of 11 oz.
3. VHT Flameproof Coating Very High Heat Flat White Primer
The VHT Flameproof Coating received several negative reviews, but after taking the time to research it ourselves, we have to say we couldn’t be happier with the result!
If you’ve worked with exhausts, engines, and other high-temperature applications before, you know exactly how hard it is to find an excellent high-heat paint coating. The VHT Flameproof Coating is everything you’re looking for (and, if we’re any judge, more!).
VHT says their high-heat coating will withstand temperatures up to 1093 degrees Celsius or 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. We took particular interest in this, and for once, it’s not exaggerated! You can use this for lining everything from exhaust systems and piston domes to firepits.
Like the Dupli-Color CP199, the can holds 11 oz., but unlike the same, it’s not a significant problem for the VHT Flameproof Coating, as you’ll primarily be using it for small, delicate applications.
Here’s a tip for first-time users: make sure you sand all the rust from the surface first. This helps the coating stick to the surface and later makes sure it cures evenly.
- Extremely affordable product with higher-than-average performance
- The product doesn’t chalk or peel like a lot of high-heat coatings.
- Easy-to-use nozzle design that makes spraying simple
- Surfaces don’t need a layer of a different primer before application
- You need to sand the surface before applying this coating.
- Coated surfaces need to be cured at very high temperatures.
4. 3M Single Step Primer, 08682, 30 mL
The 3M Single Step Primer 08682 is a terrific product. Like the VHT Flameproof Coating, it comes with a singular, recommended use: to promote the adhesion of urethane-based sealants and adhesives in automotive applications.
We initially thought this limitation would pose a problem but soon discovered that it is more than made up for it with over-the-top performance. From what we’re reading, windshield installations completed using the 3M Single Step Primer lasted for years before loosening.
We’re not making up tall tales here. Coming in a tiny 1.01 fluid Oz. bottle, this product can make almost entirely detached windows look new and holding.
You can apply it with Q-tips onto the surface and quickly remove it with a razor if you slip. It also dries very quickly, meaning you don’t have to wait a good bit after applying this primer.
The 3M Single Step Primer does have a seven-day shelf life, though, and absorbs moisture quickly, so make sure you don’t end up waiting too long to use this product!
- Excellent adhesion for automotive applications
- It makes your windows and windshield water-tight if done right.
- Dries extremely quick for convenience
- Can be used on pinch welds to prevent corrosion
- It completely dries out once opened inside of a week.
- The 3M Single Step Primer can eat through the tips of Nitrile gloves, which is why it’s a better idea to use cotton shotgun patches to apply this primer.
5. Bondo Gray Filler Primer, 00720, 11 oz
What makes the Bondo Gray Filler Primer 00720 such a good choice is its affordability and ease of use. If you’re looking for a cheap, inexpensive filler to fill in gashes and scratches on your car before painting, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better one than this.
This Bondo Filler Primer is also an excellent lacquer-based primer, giving even the base primer coating an enviable shine. It’s compatible with most paints and surfaces, but from our research, it works best on surfaces made of metal, fiberglass, and surprisingly, wood!
We loved this product because, unlike many other primers in the same price range, it dries quickly, letting you get to sanding the surface in just under 30 minutes.
While not the best option you’ll find, this primer is also very suitable for auto body repairs. It’s handy for those light scratches your car door picks up over years of use.
The lacquer-based formula doesn’t need to be mixed first and can be sprayed directly onto the surface using any old aerosol spray can.
- You can use this product as both primer and filler.
- Comes with good spray coverage for quick application
- Medium-sized 11 oz. spray can with enough product for multiple uses
- Compatible with a wide variety of paints
- Great for scratch, can apply on dented surfaces.
- Not very effective on plastic surfaces
- The nozzle can come loose when being used horizontally.
6. SEM 39683 Grey Self Etching Primer
If you’re working on aluminum surfaces, we’d recommend using the SEM 39683 Grey Self Etching Primer.
This first-step primer received positive feedback from both DIY users and professional auto body garages, with all of them agreeing on one thing in particular: people who used this product were impressed with how well it covered bare aluminum!
The nozzle on this 15 oz. spray can is much faster than standard spray paint, meaning it sprays faster than what most people are used to. You’ll appreciate this when using it for larger surfaces as it helps you cover more area quickly.
The same thing, though, can be somewhat of a drawback. Its fast spray speed makes this primer spray unsuitable for detail work since you have less control over the spray.
This might be spicy, but we say use this primer exclusively when working on aluminum surfaces. It’s also so durable that you can’t get it off by scraping it!
- Extremely durable primer that’s hard to get off
- It applies promptly and dries fast to let you get to sanding quickly
- The spray can contains 15 oz. of primer suitable for large projects
- Great adhesion to aluminum surfaces
- The faster spray nozzle makes it hard to delicately control the spray.
7. RAPTOR Etch Primer 1K Aerosol UP5023 13.2 Oz
It’s not too often you see a product that matches up to its promise of being ‘foolproof.’ We’re happy to say, though, that like most of their products, Raptor holds up their promise of easy application and good performance with the RAPTOR Etch Primer 1K.
The RAPTOR Etch Primer 1K is excellent for bare metal applications, as it etches and primes bare metal in one easy step.
A great feature of this product is the flat-fan nozzle. It sprays the product in a large fan pattern with excellent coverage and keeps the spray thin enough to control delicately.
Also, we have to say, we love that you can topcoat this etching primer without having to sand it first. Sanding’s one of the worst steps because of the effort required, and this affordable, efficient primer can save you that trouble.
It also works great to keep steel from rusting by forming a protective barrier over it, though if you’re using this on a truck bed, you’ll need two cans minimum.
- Even spray with great coverage to reduce the time required for priming.
- Dries well in under 20 minutes.
- The surface doesn’t have to be sanded, only cleaned and degreased
- Designed to be used with Raptor paints and bed liners
- The nozzle can spray unevenly if even a little loose.
- We also noticed that the product runs out quickly due to the fan-pattern nozzle, so you’ll need multiple cans for larger projects.
8. Best 2K High Build Primer: Eastwood Catalyzed Technology 2K AeroSpray Epoxy Durable Primer
The Eastwood 2K AeroSpray Epoxy Primer, which comes in a 13.3 Fl. Oz. spray can, is a high-quality primer that you can use on several types of surfaces. The best thing about this spray can is the unique 2-Chamber spray of the can itself!
It provides a smooth, even coverage that you usually can’t get without using a spray gun, saving you the cost of buying one.
Besides that, it’s a fairly decent product that comes at a slightly high price, but you need to know that this isn’t a base coat primer. Instead, this epoxy primer smoothes out uneven surfaces so you can paint them without worry.
While it won’t hold up to the high temperatures of automotive engines, the Eastwood 2K AeroSpray Epoxy Primer is perfect for auto bodies. You can even use this on different types of furniture, as it’s safe for application on steel, aluminum, fiberglass, and existing body fillers.
We recommend waiting a long while to sand the surface after applying this product. From our research, giving it about ten days to set in works the best.
- Premium-grade and long-lasting epoxy primer
- Best epoxy primer for carbon fiber surfaces
- Pot life of just under 48 hours after first use
- It can be used on plastic surfaces if you use an adhesion promoter first.
- Doesn’t have a very high-temperature rating.
- Pricey when compared to other epoxy primers.
9. POR-15 41018 Self Etch Primer
We checked out several different applications for the POR-15 41018 Self Etch Primer. Whether it was as part of a truck bed liner application or a repainting job, this primer worked beautifully.
Outstanding durability and strong adherence are two of the best benefits you’ll get from a coat of this highly-rated self-etch primer. Like the RAPTOR Etch Primer 1K, you can also use this as a base coat to protect your bare metal surfaces from rusting.
POR-15 says you should only use this primer over cured POR-15 Rust Coating, but from what we saw, it also adds fantastic durability on bare metal surfaces after applying the company’s prep spray!
As for the spray can itself, it definitely won’t disappoint you. It has a clean, even spray with no chunks at all, and as long as you remember to sand previously painted areas with 320 grit paper first, it will bond in just a few minutes.
We didn’t find anything to grumble about here except, that is, the price. If you’re just looking for something to finish up a low-effort job, you’ll want to consider a cheaper option.
- The nozzle has a clean, even spray pattern.
- Prevents corrosion on surfaces for years
- Surprising adhesive power that makes paint coatings long-lasting
- Can be used without a previous application of POR-15 Rust Coating
- Very expensive when compared to other primers.
- Requires multiple passes for complete coverage.
10. Seymour 20-1674 PBE Professional Primer
The Seymour 20-1674 PBE Professional Primer might be the only product on this list that we don’t recommend for hobby or DIY use. Instead, this self-etching filler primer was made for use by professional body shops that need the best performance.
Like most products on this list, it works with all types of metal and fiberglass surfaces. It’ll protect your car’s surfaces from rusting, though its weld-through rating means that it’s a little more expensive.
The Seymour 20-1674 PPrimer lays with a smooth, even spray and nicely builds on the surface.
Welding can often make some of the primer flake off, but we didn’t see that with this primer. If you ask us, it’s a must-have for large welding projects, and with how low the price is, we’d advise keeping a couple of bottles on your shelf if you’re a frequent welder.
We will give you a small warning, though: powerful chemical cleaners can make most of this primer wash off. If you’re cleaning the surface after applying this, use a gentle cleanser!
- It comes out of the can fast for quick application.
- It doesn’t off-gas too much, meaning you only need minimal protection.
- Very affordable product coming at half the price of others
- You don’t need a spray gun to apply this primer.
- Fast spray can make applying a coating on small surfaces difficult.
- The spray nozzle can get knocked off easily if you’re not careful.
Best Auto Primer in a Spray Can Buying Guide
Picking the right product for your car may not be easy when there are so many options to choose from.
To help you pick the perfect one, we have created this buying guide that will give you all of the information you need before making a decision on which paint primer is right for you. Whether you want a primer for painting over old paint or looking for one to use on bare metal, this guide has you covered.
The first thing you’re going to want when picking out a spray paint primer is superior adhesion.
Adhesion means that the product will stick to your car and not just sit on top of it, which can lead to peeling or chipping down the road. So make sure that you pick something with good adhesion so that your primer will hold up against the elements.
Compatibility with the Surface Material
Not all product is suitable for metal, aluminum, plastic, and other materials a car have. So, you need to figure out which one is compatible with the surface material of your car before you pick something.
Make sure that you know exactly what type of paint it will work best with, whether latex or oil-based primer and how to apply it correctly for maximum adhesion.
Ease of Application
As we previously mentioned, not all products are created equally. So, you don’t want to pick something that is too difficult for you to apply.
You should always check the way you need to follow for the application before making the decision. Some products may feel intimidating but they can be hard to apply without any mess.
So make sure that the one you choose can be applied with ease and won’t leave a mess.
When picking out a product, safety features are very important. This includes things like flammability, toxicity, and more. Make sure that the product you buy is safe for you and your family.
Resistance to the Elements
One of the most important things that you need to consider when picking out an automotive paint primer is resistance against weather and moisture. If it’s not resistant, your car will have problems down the road with peeling or chipping if exposed outside for too long! So always look at how much resistance it has against the elements before making your choice.
Corrosion resistance is also a big factor to consider. You want to find a product that will prevent rusting and corrosion over time.
Durability of the Primer
Just because a product is resistant to the elements doesn’t mean it will hold up over time. So, you need something that can last if exposed outside for a long period of time and maintain its adhesion against other surfaces without peeling or chipping.
Fast Drying Time
Fast-drying products are better as you can start using them right away after applying them. So, you don’t have to wait for a long time before using your car as this can be very frustrating!
So make sure that the primer dries quickly so it doesn’t take too long after application.
Another important factor to consider when picking out a primer is the coverage area you get with it. The product that gives more surface area will cost you less in the long run because you won’t have to use as much of it every time! So, always look for this before making your decision.
Price vs Quality
While price can set you back a little, it may not be the best way to decide on your primer.
The more expensive products don’t always work better than cheaper ones so if you find something that is affordable and has all of the features we mentioned above then go for it! Don’t break the bank buying based on price alone.
If money isn’t an issue for you, then do look up some high-end automotive paint primers and compare them to see which one works best.
Now that we have gone through everything there is when it comes to buying a primer in a spray can, let’s go over the different types of products out there!
Types of Automotive Primer
There are many automotive primer types but we’ll take a look at the most common ones here-
This type is easy to apply and works well with oil or latex paint. They are also compatible with plastics, fiberglass, aluminum, plastic, etc., but they can be toxic for humans if inhaled. So make sure you wear the right protective gear when applying this kind of primer!
Acrylic Latex Based Primer
This type is easy to apply and you don’t need protective gear when applying it. It works well with latex paint, but the downside is that they are not as resistant as solvent-based ones!
Wax Based Primer
This type of primer has good adhesion properties and is compatible with most materials. But they are time-consuming to apply so you will have to wait a long time before you can take the car for a ride! So make sure that you don’t need something that you can use right away before picking out a wax-based primer!
In all honesty? We didn’t have to think about this one. The winner, without any doubt, has to be the U-POL 0741V Acid#8 Etch Primer Gray Aerosol!
This simple and efficient, if a little expensive, primer was the best one we checked out so far. You can use this on a wide variety of automotive metal surfaces like car doors and bumpers, though it might not be the best for high-temperature applications like exhaust pipes.
We also really loved that the spray was thin but robust, giving you reasonable control over the coating. It’s perfect for projects that require delicate layers, like smaller objects and metal surfaces.
As for drawbacks, well, we would say it’s a little expensive, but after considering the other primers here, we’re convinced this primer’s worth the cost!