The application of wear resistant coatings onto the wall of aluminium engine cylinder bores by thermal spray have seen much development over the last 10 years, with regards to both equipment design and also to the material system used. While the technology has been successful in allowing the implementation of aluminium engine blocks into mass production, there is still room for improvement. One area that can be improved is the preparation of the substrate material in order to allow a good adhesion of the thermal spray coating. Grit blasting, a traditional preparation technique, is undesirable for a mass production environment due to the risk of the assembly areas becoming contaminated with grit. Therefore, an alternative method has been sought that can offer a suitable bond strength without introducing potential risks in the manufacture line. In this study, NiAl bond coats were sprayed onto aluminium substrates using the Plasma Transferred Wire Arc (PTWA) coating system developed by Ford Motor Company. A variety of surface preparation techniques, including traditional and some more novel methods, were used and analysed with respect to bond strength, ease of application and cost.