If you do search for "paint dash" you will find about five thousand threads. But I will lay it down real quick.
There are two trains of thought with painting it, vinyl spray, or spray paint. Spray paint gives you a larger variety of colors to choose from, there are thousands of different colors you can go with. But it takes longer to paint, and there are more steps involved.
If you use spray paint, follow these steps.
Wipe down peices with laquer thinner, then sand them with 600+ paper. I personally like to use 1000 grit myself. Wipe off the sanded dust, and coat them with sandable primer. Make sure it is the correct sandable primer, designed for use on plastics. Be sure to use MANY thin coats, take your time. Let them dry at least ten nimutes between coats. After you have them completly covered, let them dry for a few hours. When they are dry, sand them down again. Do not remove the primer, you just want to smooth it out and score it lightly. Wipe off dust. Now begin applying your base color. Again, use MANY thin coats, or you will have runs and a blotchy look to it. Allow 15 minutes drying time between coats, the paint dried fairly quickly because you are using such thin coats. When you have them completly painted, let them dry overnight. Don't worry if some of the paint looks cloudy, this happens with some colors. The next day you want to use clear coat, just ask for clear coat for use on plastics, it is basically clear spray paint. Just like you did with the base color, you want to apply MANY thin coats. This time allow 30 minutes drying time...remember, take your time. DO NOT rush this, or you will have a ****ty outcome. When all the peices are done, let them dry for AT LEAST 24 hours. I personally recommend 48 hours. Clear coat takes a long time to dry, and it takes a few weeks to cure. So after they are dry, be careful putting them on. The clear coat is not cured, and can be messed up. DO NOT wash or touch them for about a month. Then you should be good to go.
Call around some interior trim shops and find some SEM color coat. It is designed for use on plastics. This stuff dries quickly and looks GREAT. When I used it on my pillar trim it looked really thick, all the natural texture was filled in and the peices looked smooth. But after about ten minutes, the stuff dried and conformed to the texture...so it looks like it is actually made of black plastic. There is no need to sand when using this stuff, just wipe down with laquer thinner and let dry before painting. Personally, I do not use thin coats of this stuff, it didn't overlap correctly when I did that. I used a few pretty thick coats and it came out great. After they dry for a few hours, use SEM clear coat. Works the same as the color, a few coats and you should be fine. I would still let dry overnight....but I didn't the first time and nothing happened.
i cheated on mine.,, i took out all my pieces and took them to a friend of a friend of mine who owns a paint shop. ( the guy who owns it is a friend now to) anyway i took all the peices i wanted sprayed down to him . he handed me a scotchbrite pad and some very fine sandpaper and i sanded and taped off everything i wanted painted. took me a few hours cuz i wanted it to come out right. ( here is where it gets wierd) on 99-00 the plastic is hard plastic where as for sure i know the the 02 cougars have a rubbery/softer plastic for the dash peices. this is where you have to sand down like crazy and get through that. once i got this done i preped the plastic with some type of degreaser he had. then let it dry. then we sprayed away. i know it not detailed alot. but thats the basics. ill show a pic of what mine turned out like
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