Should You Paint Your Vehicle?

The challenges, cost, and complexity of painting a vehicle.


White Dodge Challenger
Having your car painted should leave it with a renewed vibe.

If your vehicle’s patina looks dull, chipped, or scratched, painting it is a popular way to improve its appearance and increase its value. But painting a car goes beyond applying a few rounds of spray paint. Although these kinds of tasks are low-cost when done by a national chain, they often yield poor results with the paint fading, even peeling within a few months.

The solution is to choose a garage experienced in repainting vehicles. Here, you’ll find a business whose specialty of painting cars is apparent. They’re the kind of shop that will first sand the surface and use specialized tools for applying a new coat and additional layers as needed. What you pay for this job will vary, based on the size of the vehicle and the complexity of the work. We’ll examine the steps necessary to accomplish this procedure.

Getting It Done

A superior paint job for any vehicle necessitates extensive preparation, the use of expensive materials, and a demonstrative skillset for the technicians. Thus, the initial consideration in the price of painting a vehicle will be the quality of work and the amount of time the garage expends in accomplishing the task.

Firstly, the vehicle will be washed, the original paints sanded down, and the chrome and windows taped and covered. Once the prep work has been completed, a colorless primer is applied to add longevity to the paint.

Secondly, colored paint will be applied using spray guns, followed by a transparent protective covering. No two garages may approach the work in precisely the same manner.

For instance, some may zoom through the preparation phase in haste, while others will take their time to ensure detailed and satisfactory work. In other words, the quality of the work largely depends on how much you want to pay – if you approach this job with a low budget in mind, then the results will be less than satisfactory.

Materials Used

Beyond the cost of labor, various materials are included in the final price for painting a vehicle. An individual who prefers to paint his vehicle must invest in tools such as a spray gun along with covers and tape for windows and chrome. If you prefer the work of a garage, you’ll be paying for the primer, paint, clear coatings, labor, and taxes.

Given that multiple layers of paint are necessary, a complete inventory of quality materials will cost you at least $1,500. Again, pricing may be all over the place, with quality paints and materials driving up your total cost. At the top-end of the spectrum, high-quality paints can cost well over $5,000, while paint jobs from mass-production retail chains will cost you the least with specials running for under $500.

However, you should know that most colors, including various reds, blues, and greens, can much more. Also, keep in mind that the vehicle’s size will play a large factor in how much you’ll pay. Thus, a full-size SUV will require several times the amount of paint as a subcompact car.

Labor Costs

Consider where you live to gauge what the prevailing labor costs are for technicians and mechanics. In major cities, they’ll command top dollar, while in rural communities overhead is much lower. Yet, labor costs are also tied directly into the quality of work provided – you’ll pay more for an expert craftsman wherever he is located than for a technician trained in a mega company’s philosophy of minimizing costs.

Add in other costs such as minor body repairs, including scratches and dents. Sanding a vehicle will only remove most surface problems, while bodily repair will require specialized prep work before painting commences.

Quite easily, a high-quality paint job will cost at least $2,500 but will run far higher for specialized metallics, two-tone paint schemes, and body striping or decals. You need to budget at least $3,000 for a standard job for an average-sized vehicle, adding hundreds to perhaps thousands of dollars to your cost depending on the previous-mentioned factors.

Self Service

If you choose to do the job yourself, please note that the work is difficult and time-consuming. This Popular Mechanics article walks you through it and is worth following for the do-it-yourself car enthusiast.

Indeed, you’ll have to go to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the vehicle is properly and evenly painted with the right conditions available for doing the job correctly. For instance, unless you have a well-ventilated garage to do this work, you’ll be painting your vehicle outside. There, temperature, air quality, insects, and birds, are among the factors that can impact your work.

Rush this job or fail to take into consideration the many challenges that may leave you frustrated and perhaps regretting your decision. Or paying more to get the mistakes fixed.


See AlsoWhere Can I Find My Car Paint Code?

Photo by Cesar Perez from Pexels

Author: Johnny Orion
Johnny Orion is a weekend mechanic and a Cars & Coffee hound who dabbles in writing, mostly about cars. His goal is to retrace the famous Route 66 highway in a restored 1972 Pontiac Firebird hardtop with a four-barrel carburetor and a 3-speed manual gearbox. But first, he must convince his friend to sell...

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