How Much Does It Cost to Paint a Car?

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It’s easy to feel down when your car is in desperate need of a paint job. While driving a rusty, four-wheeled eyesore doesn’t directly affect how a car runs, you should be able to enjoy your car in all of its aesthetic prowess. 

Aside from the pride you’ll feel from being behind the wheel of a freshly painted car, a new coat of paint also has the financial payoff of upping your vehicle’s overall value when it comes time for you to sell your ride. 

Speaking of money, how much can you expect it to cost for you to paint a car? Before we completely get into the specific price ranges, we have to talk about the variables that affect how heavy the price tag will be. 


Elements That Impact the Price

There is no doubt that the cost of paying to have your car painted can be an economic burden on many customers once the process gets underway. Especially if your car is on the older side, you might be surprised to hear that, in some instances, the price of a new coat of paint exceeds the actual resale value of your car in its current condition. 

What are some of the reasons behind the fluctuations in the costs of painting a car? The materials that are involved in the painting process aren’t cheap, including the actual paint itself--automotive enamel is significantly different from other types of DIY paints you may be familiar with. Plus, the amount of paint that will be needed to paint the entire car usually comes out to quite a bit. With all this in mind, you’ll need to look at painting your car as an investment.

The most common reason for a car getting some new paint is usually because it was involved in some sort of accident. Even with small dents and minor fender benders, you can’t just paint over the problems, and this is where a lot of the cost can also add up. Dents and scratches have to be repaired first, and the same can be said for rust and corrosion so the paint doesn’t just cover it up and make things worse later on.

The original paint also generally needs to be completely removed in order to completely repaint your car as well. The body shop that you go to for service will also bill time for significant preparations to be able to paint your car properly, like covering windows, tires, and interiors. The mechanic may also have to temporarily disassemble parts of the vehicle too depending on what all you’re getting painted. 

High-quality paint jobs could even require mechanics to remove entire panels, a very labor-intensive process that really piles on high costs. 

Some other important questions to consider when it comes to paint are also worth thinking about:

  • How big is your vehicle? Are you painting a motorcycle, or tiny car, a bulky SUV, or a massive truck?
  • What is the particular make and model of your vehicle? Luxury cars may require specific paint jobs, especially with make-specific colors. 
  • Do you have to get any repairs down in preparation? Are you repairing or restoring the vehicle in addition to painting it?
  • How much detail will be involved in the paint job? Are you looking for a quick and economical way to pump up the value of your car before selling, or a more elaborate paint job that will last you while you drive the car for years to come? 
  • What quality and type of paint are you using? Not all paints are priced equally. If the car is valuable, a cheap paint job will detract from that. 

Professional Paint Jobs

Let’s dig into the dollars and cents that are going to be required if you are in search of hiring someone to perform a professional paint job on your automobile

  • Basic Paint Jobs: Expect to pay at least a couple thousand bucks for the entire vehicle, and anywhere from $500 to $1,000 if it’s just a panel or two. 
  • Average Paint Jobs: This paint job has a price range that usually lands somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 depending on your vehicle.
  • Showroom Paint Jobs: Your wallet is going to have to open up much wider for this high-end paint job, which can be upwards of $10,000 depending on a whole ton of factors like paint color, disassembly, rarity of the car, and much more. This type of paint job is generally for very rare vehicles, custom builds, concourse vehicles, or highly valuable classics. 

The Importance of Painting Your Car

The enamel paint is more than just something nice to look at--it plays an important protective role for the car’s metal, sealing the car from moisture and environmental damage, and usually being thick and hardy enough to withstand minor damage like light scratches. Car paint provides a couple different key forms of protection to the underlying body of your car:

Painting your car will protect the vehicle from physical and chemical damage--physical debris like rocks and gravel, and chemicals like road salt. 

Car paint protects the underlying steel from corrosion and rust--peeled and chipped paint is actually a common starting place for rust to begin, and once corrosion kicks in, it can spread quickly.


Painting Your Car Yourself

When you are budgeting for the costs of supplies to paint a car yourself, depending on all the elements of the process that you need, you could spend anywhere from a few hundred to a little over a thousand bucks, depending on if you’re planning to do a little rattle can paint job or if you’re going to do an actual spray coat in a home-made paint booth. The professionals typically add several coats of primer, several coats of paint in your preferred color, and a layer or two of top coat to ensure a quality finish and protection of the paint underneath. 

If you want to paint your automobile yourself, you will need a ventilated area where dust and dirt won’t fly onto the wet car and ruin the new paint job while it's drying, and to also ensure the fumes from the paint have somewhere to go and you don’t end up with a respiratory issue. You should make sure to wear a painter’s mask even in a ventilated area, and be patient with the process. Depending on the paint, you want to make sure that the layers are thin, and there’s some time to dry before you apply the next layer. Additionally, you’ll need to factor in the time for the paint to cure, which can be as long as a week depending on the temperature and humidity of your environment--ideally, it’ll be dryer and above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Unless your vehicle is something you don’t value too much, we highly recommend you get your vehicle painted professionally. Painting is an extensive and intensive process, and one of those parts of car culture that’s best left to the professionals. 

What you can do however is maintain the paint when everything is said and done. One of the best ways to do this is to use a protective wax, or even better, a ceramic coating, which adds a whole new layer of protection to keep grime, dirt, and other unwelcome debris off that fresh coat of paint. The best part is it’s not expensive to keep up with this maintenance, and with high quality home detailing products available to you at a good price, it’s easy to help your new paint last for years and years to come.


In Closing

Hopefully we’ve been able to give you a better idea of the costs involved in getting your car painted! Before you invest a dime of your hard-earned money, have a clear plan for yourself of what you are going to be doing with the car in the near future. Getting a car painted is expensive, and a lot of the time, it ends up not being worth it unless you plan on keeping the vehicle around for a long time, you’re using it as a show car, or if you have tons of cash to spend on a custom build. 

Again, we can’t stress enough--painting is a highly specialized skill that usually needs specific tools and processes to be done correctly. You don't want to spend the time and money once trying to do it yourself, only to have a professional do it all over again to correct your mistakes.

When you do get your car painted, don’t forget to keep a nice coat of wax or ceramic coating to keep that fresh coat of paint always looking brand new!


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