What Causes Solvent Pop And Fisheye in Automotive Paint?

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Hey, it’s Tony from LearnAutoBodyAndPaint. Today’s we’re going to cover two questions: What Causes Solvent Pop And Fisheye in Automotive Paint?

Here’s the first question from a subscriber:

“I would like to know how to stop chemical pop. Every time I lay my clear coat, I get little wholes on my paint. I lay it heavy and I’m using Iwata 400 with a 1.3 tip and 15 minutes between coats. Can you help me with that?”

Let’s separate the difference between chemical pop and fish eye. A lot of people are confused about those two chemical reactions.

Check out the video as I show a solvent pop and fisheye.

If you look closely, a solvent pop is more of a bubble in your base coat. It could be seen on clear coat as well.

It could be all over your paint or certain sections. It really depends.

Now fisheye looks similar but if you look closely, it actually looks more like a crater. The bubbles are inward.

This guy cut and buffed fisheye and you could see that the compound filled up in the fisheye. The white stuff on the fisheye picture is a compounded wax or whatever he used to go over it.

In fish eye, the paint separates and is not sticking.

I have a previous blog post where I explain this as well:  Top 10 Auto Paint Repair Problems and Solutions

Fish Eyes – Tiny surface finish blemishes that resemble small circles of popped paint bubbles, of fish eye appearance.

Condition : Tiny surface finish blemishes that resemble small circles of popped paint bubbles, which seem to occur almost as soon as paint hits an auto body surface.

Causes Improper Surface Cleaning Or Preparation.

Many waxes and polishes contain silicone, the most common cause of fish eyes. Small traces of silicone do not allow paint to settle evenly; rather they cause material to encircle the speck of silicone and form a fish’s eye. Silicone adheres firmly to the paint film and requires extra effort for its removal. Even small quantities in sanding dust, rags or from cars being polished nearby can cause this failure.- Check for possible contamination in paint materials.

– Check for painter contamination, skin oils, perspiration, greasy foods, etc.

– Check for any oils or contamination that might get into the spray area.

– Check for proper cleaning procedures prior to refinishing.

– Check airborne contamination in spray area.

Effects of the old finish or previous repair: Old finish or previous repair may contain excessive amounts of silicone from additives used during their application. Usually solvent wiping will not remove embedded silicone.

Contamination of air lines: Check for oil in air lines and spray equipment.


Precautions should be taken to remove all traces of silicone by thoroughly cleaning with wax and grease remover. (The use of Fish Eye Eliminator is in no way a replacement for good surface preparation).

Add fish eye eliminator

Drain and clean air pressure regulator daily to remove trapped moisture and dirt. Air compressor tank should also be drained daily.

Solution: After affected coat has set up, apply another double coat of color containing the recommended amount of Fish Eye Eliminator. In severe cases, affected areas should be sanded down and refinished.

Now, let’s cover solvent pop and I’ll go back to the previous blog post on Top 10 Auto Paint Repair Problems and Solutions

Condition: Blisters on the paint surface caused by trapped solvents in the topcoats or primer – a situation which is further aggravated by force drying or uneven heating.

Cause: Improper surface cleaning or preparation

– Check other units to determine if a pattern is beginning to take place.

– Check if the imperfection is on the whole unit or in a specific area.

– Check if defect is specific to one or many colors.

– Check if defect is most prevalent on horizontal surfaces.

Wrong thinner or reducer

– Use of fast-dry thinner or reducer, especially when the material is sprayed too dry or at excessive pressure, can cause solvent popping by trapping air in the film.

– Check for correct reducing solvent.

Excessive film thickness

– Insufficient drying time between coats and too heavy application of the undercoats may trap solvents causing popping of the color coat as they later escape.

– Check for excessive film build up.

– Check for high fluid delivery.

– Check for high viscosity.

– Check for too much overlapping in film build.

– Check for proper flash and purge times.


– Check for high temperature in first part of force dry.

– Check for low air pressure.


Thoroughly clean areas to be painted.

Select the thinner or reducer most suitable for existing painting area conditions.

Don’t pile on undercoats or topcoats. Allow sufficient flash and dry time. Allow proper drying time for undercoats and topcoats. Allow each coat of primer to flash naturally – do not fan.

Solution: For refinishing solvent popping, if damage is extensive and severe, paint must be removed down to undercoat or metal, depending on depth of blisters; then refinish. In less severe cases, sand out, re-surface and re-apply topcoat.

It’s the #BossPainter, Tony from LearnAutoBodyAndPaint. I hope you enjoyed and this helps your project.

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Talk soon! Cheers!


Other Helpful Links:

Top 10 Auto Paint Repair Problems and Solutions

😎10 Must Know Tips When Painting a Car From Scratch! 💪🏎

What Causes Orange Peel? and How To Fix or Prevent Orange Peel Paint

DIY Auto Body Work And Painting Q&A – Paint Biting – Orange Peel – Rust Prevention

Orange Peel Paint Finish – What Causes Orange Peel in Paint?

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