99-04 Mustang Blackout Panel
One common mod for most 99-04 Mustangs is what we call a blackout panel. This is when the section between both tail lights is turned black either by painting or applying a vinyl cover. While vinyl is a nice choice for anyone that thinks they may want to remove it, anyone who plans on keeping it will eventually run into problems with the vinyl peeling or cracking. The vinyl blackout panels normally run between $30-60.
Your other option is painting. You could have this done professionally which would run you anywhere from $100+ or you could do it yourself. The DIY method is what I will be explaining here.
You're going to need a few basic materials for your Mustang blackout panel that you can pick up at your local Wal-Mart or similar store. You'll need a scotchbrite pad, a can of black spray paint (gloss, satin, or flat), a can of adhesion promoter, some masking tape, and a few plastic painters sheets. If you want to take your Ford oval off to get maximum coverage then don't forget some automotive emblem tape (you may need to visit an auto parts store for this). *I recommend paint brands like Krylon as they offer a nozzle that will spray more like an automotive paint gun.
*Note: Try to do this in a well ventilated area to avoid over-spray floating around in an enclosed area like a garage.
Prep work is extremely important. If you're taking the Ford oval off, do it first. Use a hair dryer to reactivate and loosen the original tape holding the emblem on then a piece of dental floss to slide behind it and get it away from the car (remember to tape the back side of the hole where the emblem is or you'll paint the inside of your trunk). Next open the trunk and lay one of your plastic sheets over the trunk, tail lights, and rear bumper. Cut a hole for the trunk latch then close the trunk. This will avoid over-spray on the tail lights and rear bumper.
Next take your masking tape and follow the edge on the trunk that lines up with the top of the tail lights. Make sure your tape is nice and even, this will be the top line on your blackout panel. Now take another plastic sheet and cover the rear window and top of the trunk, taping the plastic down onto your line of tape to ensure no over-spray ends up on the rest of the trunk.
Grab your scotchbrite pad and scuff up the area you'll be painting. You're not looking to remove the paint, just get it to a dull look. Then clean the area up nicely and give it a coat of adhesion promoter.
Give the adhesion promoter 10 minutes to get tacky, then it's paint time. Shake your can well before you start and make sure it has been somewhere warm. The last thing you want is splotchy paint, so find some scrap wood or cardboard and give it a few passes before you start on the blackout panel.
When you start painting remember to go up and down or left to right. Start spraying before the nozzle is pointed at what needs the color (start spraying on the plastic and move over the panel, then spray the other side of plastic before stopping). You're aiming for light, even coats so don't spray too much in one area. This will result in longer drying time and possible running of the paint.
Give your paint about 10 to 15 minutes between each coat to dry. When you're done with your final coat, allow the paint to dry for an hour or two before removing the tape and plastic sheets.
If possible, try to keep the car in a garage, away from the weather, for the rest of the day. If that's not possible there's a good chance your blackout panel will be unharmed but the longer you can let it sit and dry, the less likely it is that anything will happen to your blackout panel.
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