“How much does it cost to paint a car,” you ask? As you will soon learn, it depends on a myriad of factors.
There are many reasons why you would want to repaint your car or truck. Are you looking to repaint it because the original paint has lost its luster? Perhaps, you got into a minor accident and now have unsightly scratches on its body? Or maybe you’re planning to sell it and want to increase its value?
Whatever the case, we have the answers you’re looking for.
As a quick overview, a low-budget repaint job will cost around $350 to start, while the price of a mid-level repaint job with extras such as rust removal typically ranges from $1,000 to $3,000.
A high-quality car paint job cost can be quite exorbitant, ranging from $2,500 to well over $10,000.
This guide explores the cost to repaint a car in more detail, including the factors that affect the overall cost, the average cost of DIY painting a car versus professional painting, how to save money on painting a car, and a lot more.
Why Is Painting A Car So Important?
If, like most people, you think the only purpose of car paint is to enhance the appearance of your vehicle, think again! Just as important, if not more, it protects its bodywork from the damaging effects of mother nature.
The body of most cars is made of steel, a material that’s prone to oxidation, corrosion, and rusting and can weaken over time, especially when not adequately protected. A quality coat of paint provides a layer of protection that helps prevent structural problems, extending the life of your vehicle.
As such, you must ensure that your car’s metal body is always protected. If damage to the existing paint leaves the body exposed, you should make it a priority to repair and repaint the damaged area at the very least and as soon as possible.
Deep scratches and other seemingly minor paint damage can lead to more serious problems if not fixed quickly.
Repainting a car is also important because color affects the way people feel. If the paint your car or truck came with makes you feel dreary or doesn’t reflect your personality, rather than buy a new car, a color change might be all you need.
Finally, certain paint colors have a higher perceived value than others, so you might want to repaint your vehicle to increase its resale value if the extra money you’ll make on the sale of the vehicle is more than the cost of the repaint.
So, is it worth repainting a car? Yes, there are many compelling reasons to give your car or truck a fresh coat of paint. However, if the repaint costs more than the value of the vehicle, you should seriously consider if it makes sense.
Note: You won’t fail a vehicle inspection if the paint on your car or truck is in poor condition. The only time this will be an issue is if it comprises the safety of the vehicle.
So, How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Car
To determine how much it costs to paint a car or truck, you need to consider the factors that affect the cost and whether you should paint the vehicle yourself or have a professional do it. As you will soon see, the cost can range drastically.
Factors Affecting The Cost Of Painting A Car
You need to consider the following factors when calculating the cost of a paint job.
As with any other product or service, the level of quality greatly affects the cost of a paint job, with good quality services commanding higher prices than low-quality ones.
Quality in this case mostly pertains to the quality of the paint used and the quality of the painters performing the task. You can expect amazing results from a high-quality paint job, while a bargain-priced paint job will likely get you bargain-level results.
You get what you pay for, right?
The cost of the paint job will also be affected by the size of your vehicle. After all, the bigger the vehicle, the more surface area that needs to be painted.
If you have a full-size truck or SUV, expect to pay more than someone who owns a compact coupe or hatchback, all things considered.
If your vehicle has surface imperfections such as deep scratches, dings, or rust, they will need to be removed before the paint is applied, which will cost you extra.
Even if the shop doesn’t offer to repair any imperfections, it may still charge extra for having to paint around the damage or, god forbid, cover it up.
Note: Covering up surface damage with paint will only make the damage worse, so never buy a service that covers up surface imperfections without first repairing them.
Some auto paint colors are more expensive than others. Simple mainstream colors such as white, grey, and black are usually the cheapest, while specialty or rare colors, especially those used by premium and exotic automakers, are the priciest.
Matte black paint, for instance, is noticeably more expensive than more traditional paints, explaining why they are mostly found on high-end vehicles.
It’s worth noting that it costs more to paint a car a different color than its original paint and the process takes longer to complete because of the work involved in repainting the door jambs, engine bay, and other less conspicuous surfaces.
Also, if you change the color, you will need to update the color on the vehicle’s registration and any other documentation that states its color.
Professional Car Painting Vs DIY Car Painting
Labor comprises a significant chunk of the cost of painting a car — if you decide to pay a professional detailer to do the job, that is.
While it’s usually advisable to opt for a professional paint job, you might consider performing the job yourself if you have the necessary skills, tools, and patience.
Let’s look at how much repainting a car costs when done by a professional versus yourself.
How Much Does It Cost to Have A Professional Repaint Your Car?
Professional paint jobs — even the “cheap” ones — are expensive. Fortunately, they are offered in pricing tiers that reflect different levels of quality and attention to detail, allowing you to select one that best fits your needs and budget.
Generally speaking, the more expensive the job, the better the results.
Basic paint jobs: These professional jobs typically cost between $350 and $1,000 and involve the bare minimum. You’re likely to get a few coats of lower-quality paint (e.g. synthetic enamel) and less attention to detail than higher-priced paint jobs. The results could be pretty rough, to say the least.
Standard paint job: Costing between $1,000 to $3,000, a mid-budget paint job will involve sanding the surface to remove damage such as scratches and rust and using higher-quality paint. Compared to a basic paint job, you get a smoother, longer-lasting finish.
High-quality paint job: If you have an expensive car or truck (Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, etc.), you may want to invest in a premium paint job, which can cost anywhere from $2,500 to well over $10,000.
You get all the bells and whistles, including having all the paint on the metal frame removed, dents hammered out, and layers upon layers of top-grade paint applied to every part of the body that should be painted.
How Much Does It Cost To Repaint A Car Yourself
A word of caution: Don’t paint a car yourself if you’re not knowledgeable on all the steps involved in the process or lack experience. This is a difficult, time-consuming job where the quality of the finish largely depends on the amount of experience one has.
That said, the materials needed for repainting your car or truck yourself are readily available and can cost as little as $100 to as much as $1,500, if not more, with the paint making up a large chunk of the cost.
In addition to the paint, you will need primer, foam brushes, paint trays, masking tape, sandpaper, and mineral spirits for cleaning, as well as safety gear such as a face mask, eye protection, thick gloves, and a work apron.
Effective DIY car painting also requires finding a good location to paint the vehicle. You want a clean, well-ventilated area that’s free of dust and allows the toxic paint fumes to escape.
The biggest cost, however, will likely be the headache that comes with prepping and painting the vehicle.
Tips For Painting Your Own Car
So far, we have discussed the reasons why you would want to repaint your car and how much it costs to repaint a car. In this section, we provide additional tips to help you select the right type of paint job for your budget and get the best results.
Make sure to consider the following points when shopping or painting:
1. Price Range And Budget
When you Google “how much does it cost to repaint a car,” you will likely see a wide range of prices, with some paint shops charging only a few hundred dollars to paint your vehicle and others charging thousands. Low-cost paint jobs can be a tempting option, especially when on a tight budget, but they usually have many pitfalls.
For one thing, the quality of the paint will likely be lower than your car or truck’s original paint and the shop might omit necessary touch-ups such as repairing exterior dings and small dents.
Needless to say, a less expensive paint job will give your car less care and attention than a pricier option, and there is a very good chance you won’t be happy with the results.
If your car warrants it, save up and invest in a good quality paint job.
2. Be Realistic With Your Needs
Just because you should avoid cheap paint jobs doesn’t mean you need to spend your life savings on a quality job. While you can certainly do that if you have the money and the value of your car or truck justifies it, a mid-range paint job may be all you need.
Ask yourself how good of a paint job you really need. For instance, if you’re dealing with only a few minor chips and blemishes, then going all out and having the entire vehicle repainted is probably not necessary.
The cost of touching isolated blemishes and repainting individual sections such as the hood typically ranges from $150 to $1000 depending on the amount of work required, a far cry from the thousands you would have to pay to repaint the whole vehicle.
Moreover, if you have an old beater car that still runs great and holds some sentimental value to you, going with a cheaper repaint in the same color would be fine if all you want is a quick and affordable exterior freshening.
How much does it cost to repaint a car the same color? Usually cheaper than repainting the car a different color since you don’t have to incur the cost of repainting surfaces of the vehicle that are usually hidden (engine bay, trunk lid, door jambs, etc.).
3. Don’t Paint Over Problems
It would be wasteful and even deleterious to paint over damaged surfaces on your car or truck. This includes scratches, dings, and especially rust.
If you don’t address these issues before painting over the surface, they will only get worse and cost you more money down the line. In fact, applying a fresh, shiny coat of paint quite often makes body damage even more noticeable.
Any paint job that involves covering up exterior damage should be avoided at all costs.
4. Know What You’re Paying For
A lot goes into a quality paint job. It often involves preparing the surface, repairing any damage, and taking extra care to not get paint on other parts of the car.
As you probably guessed, preparation is kept at a minimum for cheap paint jobs, and the results often show it. While the shop will cover up the glass and other areas that shouldn’t be painted before applying the paint, the offer might not include repairs to dings, rust, and corrosion.
Sure, everything might look fine from afar, but upon closer inspection, you may notice signs that the surface was merely resprayed rather than carefully painted, signs such as the door jams having a different color and non-paintable exterior trim having paint on them.
It’s important to know what you’re getting so that you’re not unpleasantly surprised by the results. For some peace of mind, get a warranty on the paint job if possible and financially feasible.
5. Inspect The Results
Always take some time to inspect the paint job and assess its overall quality, keeping an eye out for imperfections. If you paid a large sum of money for a standard or high-quality paint job, don’t drive off until you get the desired results.
Do this even if the body shop has a good reputation for quality results.
6. DIY Like A Professional
If you decide to repaint the car yourself, you have to come at it like a professional. Painting a car is not something you can take lightly.
Paint fumes can be toxic and dangerous when inhaled and massed in the body, and most paints contain ethanol, a clear liquid that’s volatile, flammable, and explosive.
Put your safety first by always wearing proper protective gear and painting the car in an open, well-ventilated space that’s free of children and pets and far away from fire or any other chemicals that can cause combustion or an explosion.
Don’t be fooled by paints that are advertised as odorless. As with other paint, they are still often made with hazardous and volatile chemicals that can harm your health and catch fire.
As for actually painting the car, make sure to prepare the surface before repainting it. Cover the parts of the exterior you don’t want to be painted and repair any damage before applying the paint.
You have to be meticulous. If you find that the job is beyond your skill set, pay a professional to do it.
Car Paint Job Cost FAQs
There is so much to know about car paint besides how much it costs to repaint a car that we’re not surprised that you’ve got more questions. This section will provide you with even more answers.
Why Is Car Painting So Expensive?
The reasons why painting a car is so expensive are because vehicles today use more advanced materials (e.g. carbon fiber, special plastics, multi-stage finishes) than they did in the past and require more knowledge, time, and sophisticated tools to paint.
The cost of paint, primer, and other materials has also risen significantly in recent years due in large part to VOC regulations increasing production costs.
Is It Worth Repainting A Car?
Car paint plays an important role in the appearance and protection of your vehicle, but painting a vehicle isn’t cheap. When determining whether repainting your car or truck would be worth it, you need to consider the value of your vehicle versus the cost of the paint job.
If the cost to repaint the vehicle is over 30 percent of its value, repainting it might not make sense. On the other hand, if the vehicle holds a lot of sentimental value, you might not have a problem splurging on it.
How Can You Keep The Cost Low When Repainting A Car?
Auto painting isn’t cheap as far as car detailing is concerned, as even lower-quality paint jobs can cost hundreds of dollars. But paying more often gets you better, longer-lasting results.
A good way to keep the cost of painting your car or truck low is to be realistic with your needs. For instance, if it’s determined that only some sections of the vehicle need to be repainted, you don’t necessarily have to incur a huge expense to paint the whole vehicle.
Consider getting quotes from several professional car detailers before choosing someone to work with.
Painting the car or truck yourself is another great way to cut costs, particularly on labor; however, this is only recommended if you know what you’re doing. Car painting is not an easy task, and the smallest oversight can ruin your efforts.
What Can I Do To Make Car Paint Last Longer?
There are many things you can do to preserve your car’s paint. First and foremost, make sure to use high-quality paint and have it applied properly.
No matter how good a paint is, it won’t look good, protect your car from the elements, or last long if it’s poorly applied.
Maintaining a washing schedule to keep the topcoat clean; hand-drying to prevent water spots; and applying a good car wax, paint sealant, or ceramic coating to provide a layer of protection will also help prevent fading and reduce the rate of deterioration.
Finally, always use products that don’t contain abrasives and try to park in the shade whenever possible. Prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays will accelerate fading.
A quality paint job will make your car or truck look good and protect it from the elements, making it a must-have for anyone serious about preserving the condition of their vehicle.
Unfortunately, painting a car is not easy. Not only does the task require an intensive amount of labor and attention to detail, but you have to understand the various components of the paint and how they play against each other.
Just as well, many factors affect car paint job cost, including the types, color, and quality of the paint used; the size of your vehicle; the existence of surface damage; and whether you choose to repaint the car yourself or have a professional do it.
We recommend not painting the car yourself if you lack the experience. A bad paint job is not only unsightly but also expensive and time-consuming to correct.
So, how much does it cost to paint a car? To summarize, anywhere from $350 for a low-budget paint job to over $10,000 for a high-quality job. If you found this guide helpful, you might also be interested in knowing the average cost to replace wheel bearings, how much the average car weighs, and how long a car inspection takes.