How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Car

How Much Does It Cost To Paint A Car


Repainting your car can dramatically enhance its appearance and increase resale value. But how much does it cost to paint a car? Professional auto paint jobs range widely in price due to the type of paint,

amount of prep and labor required, and overall scope. Many factors impact the final cost to re-paint a car, but having a budget of at least $2000 is realistic for most basic paint jobs.

Key Cost Factors for a Car Paint Job

Several considerations determine the total paint job cost:

  • Type of paint used – Economy, standard urethane, or premium options
  • Overall paint job scope – Spot repairs vs. complete exterior repaints
  • Condition of existing finish – Good shape or requiring extensive prep
  • Color change – Same as existing or switch to a new paint color
  • Specialized techniques – Unique color blends, graphics, etc. add cost
  • Location and labor rates – Vary between regions and individual shops
  • Business overhead – Shop expenses get built into their pricing
  • Vehicle make and model – More complex designs take more time and paint
  • Optional add-ons – Body work, wheel/trim refinishing, etc. add cost
  • Warranty coverage – Longer and more comprehensive warranties are pricier

It’s impossible to quote exact pricing without evaluating the specific vehicle and scope of the project. But having a rough estimate helps when budgeting for a new paint job.

Key Cost Factors For A Car Paint Job
Key Cost Factors for a Car Paint Job

Economy, Standard and Premium Paint Options

Just as with car wax, there are different grades of automotive paint. Economy paints use less expensive ingredients while premium paints utilize higher-end pigments for greater durability, gloss, and color-matching:

Economy Paint

  • Lower quality resins, pigments, and thinners
  • Single stage urethane paints
  • Shorter lifespan under 2 years
  • Basic color selection
  • $300-$900 paint cost

Standard Urethane

  • Better urethane and acrylic resins
  • Two stage clearcoated paint
  • 2-4 years moderate durability
  • Most common OEM colors
  • $900-$2500 paint cost

Premium Urethane

  • High end urethane, pigments, binders
  • Two stage with extra clearcoat
  • 4-7 years exceptional durability
  • OEM perfect color matching
  • $2500-$4500+ paint cost

The quality of the paint itself can vary the total cost by hundreds of dollars. Most full repaints use a standard urethane that provides a balance of quality and cost.

Typical Paint a car Job Cost Ranges

Given all the variables, quoted prices can range dramatically. But here are some typical ballpark figures:

  • Spot or Partial Repaint – $300-$1500
  • Overall Single Stage Paint – $2000-$3500
  • Overall Two Stage Paint – $3000-$5000
  • High-End Show Car – $7000-$20,000+

Other Paint Services

  • Small Scratch Fill – $50-$150
  • Bumper or Fender – $300-$900
  • Door or Quarter Panel – $500-$1000
  • Hood or Roof – $400-$1000
  • Complete Color Change – Add $1000-$2000

A full two stage paint job with high-end paint a car and substantial prep work usually runs $5000-$10,000 for most passenger vehicles. Extensive body repairs or special techniques can drive the cost even higher.

Saving on Paint Costs

To save on a paint job:

  • Repair only damaged portions instead of a whole respray
  • Use single stage instead of more durable clearcoat
  • Choose economy paint over premium options
  • Avoid complex color changes and custom paint styles
  • Shop independent body shops instead of dealership rates
  • Negotiate pricing – some flexibility is common
  • Avoid additional options like striping, decals, powdercoating, etc.

However, skimping too much on quality risks a subpar paint job that deteriorates quickly. Prioritize price, but don’t sacrifice proper preparation and application.

Key Steps in the Paint Process

To understand where costs come from, here are the key steps to professionally re-paint a car

Key Steps In The Paint Process
Key Steps in the Paint Process

1. Pre-Paint Inspection and Stripping

  • Assess current paint condition and body damage
  • Remove exterior trim pieces, mirrors, lamps
  • Media blast or chemical strip existing paint if needed

2. Body Work and Dent Repair

  • Hammer out dents and hail damage
  • Fill dings, scratches, and rust spots with putty/filler
  • Smooth panels and prep surfaces for paint

3. Primer Application

  • Spray primer-surfacer to fill imperfections
  • Block sand smooth
  • Apply sealer and additional primer coats as needed

4. Paint Prep

  • Clean and degrease all surfaces to be painted
  • Mask trims, glass, wheels, etc. not being painted
  • Give final scuff sanding to promote paint adhesion

5. Paint

  • Mix basecoat paint to perfectly match existing or new color
  • Apply in wet coats allowing proper flash time
  • Carefully spray clearcoat for glossy protection and depth

6. Curing and Detail

  • Allow paint to fully cure before reassembly
  • Color sand and buff paint for a flawless finish
  • Remove all masking and reinstall trim pieces
  • Detail exterior

Skilled labor and waiting for products to dry and cure takes up much of the total job time. Rushing the process risks diminished quality.

Why Fresh Paint Makes a Difference

Beyond just improving appearance, a new quality paint job provides:

  • Renewed gloss, depth, and color vibrancy
  • Restored protection from oxidation and UV damage
  • Ability to easily wash and keep the finish looking clean
  • Repair of any existing chips, flakes, and trouble spots
  • Smoothing out of cracks, peeling clearcoat, and imperfections
  • Removal of discoloration and stains on the old paint
  • Ideal surface for applying ceramic coatings if desired

Fresh paint makes caring for the exterior easier over the years. And it can add to resale value by presenting the car in its best possible condition.

Other Common Paint Services

Along with full repaints, common paint services include:

Spot and Panel Painting

Isolated touch ups to repair paint chips, scratches, and flaws in specific panels. Avoiding a full repaint saves money.

Partial Repaints

Freshening only certain portions of the vehicle like front and rear fascias, the roof, hood, or trunk lid to stretch the existing paint.

Color Change

Switching to a dramatically different color requires additional disassembly and care during application. This adds cost.

Blending Paint

Feathering and blending new paint into existing panels for seamless spot repairs requiring color matching.

Custom Paint Colors/Effects

Special order paints, chameleon/pearlescent colors, metalflake, and multi-color fades or designs.

Stripes and Graphics

Painting decorative stripes, rally graphics, and custom designs addsmeticulous hand detailing beyond standard paint.

Matte and Satin Finishes

Growing in popularity, but require specialized paints and care in application to achieve the smooth muted tones.

Maintaining a Fresh Paint Job

To extend the life and looks of new paint:

  • Allow full cure time before washing, waxing, etc.
  • Hand wash only using proper technique. Avoid automated car washes.
  • Apply paint protection film to high impact areas.
  • Use premium wax or ceramic coatings to protect from UV rays.
  • Be extra careful around sharp edges that can chip.
  • Touch up any stone chips and flaws as soon as they appear.
  • Remove bird droppings, sap, and road grime quickly to limit etching.
  • If parking outside, use a car cover to prevent sun damage and oxidation.

Proper maintenance helps new paint retain its factory fresh look year after year. But periodic paint correction will eventually be needed as the clearcoat wears.

Maintaining A Fresh Paint Job
Maintaining a Fresh Paint Job

Is it Worth Repainting an Older Car?

To decide if repainting an aging, high-mileage vehicle is worthwhile:

  • Assess the overall mechanical condition. Repaints rarely boost value if engine/transmission are failing.
  • Consider how much longer you expect to own the vehicle before replacement. Future trade-in value is limited on older models.
  • Determine if cheaper spot repairs might suffice instead of a full respray.
  • Weigh cost vs. likely resale value increase. At some point repairs exceed value added.
  • Calculate total cost of paint job + any needed body repairs beforehand.

For vintage show cars or rare classics, a high-quality paint restoration can be justified to protect original sheet metal and enhance value. But repaints on everyday vehicles over 10 years old may not yield a worthwhile return on investment.

Here are some common FAQs I can add about car paint job costs:


How much does it cost to repaint a small scratch?

For minor scratch touch-ups, costs typically range from $50-150 depending on length and whether color blending is needed.

What is the cheapest way to paint a car?

Rattle can spray paints allow DIY paint jobs for $50-$300 in materials. But results are rarely professional quality.

Does Maaco paint match factory paint?

Maaco offers economy paint jobs using low-cost paints. Color matching and finish quality is not comparable to OEM factory standards.

How long does it take to paint a car?

For a full repaint job, allow at least 3-7 days from start to finish depending on levels of disassembly and dent repair needed.

Should I repaint my old car before selling?

For maximum resale value boost on an older car, focus on mechanical reconditioning first. Cosmetic paint costs rarely pay off.

Can you negotiate auto body paint prices?

Auto body and paint shops often have some flexibility on pricing. Comparing a few quotes gives you leverage to negotiate a discount.

How much does it cost to paint rims?

Refurbishing and repainting alloy wheels typically ranges $50-100 per wheel. More if dismounting tires and extensive prep work is required.

How do I protect new paint?

Use paint protection film on high impact areas, hand wash only, wax frequently, clean bird droppings quickly, and garage park to protect new paint.

Should I repaint plastic bumpers?

Unpainted plastic bumpers fade over time. Painting can provide a uniform look. Expect to pay $200-$500 for proper prep work and painting.


What it costs to paint a car varies widely based on the scope, quality of paint, current condition, and preparation required. But having a budget of at least $2000 provides a realistic starting point for a basic overall repaint.

As with most services, you get what you pay for with body shop paint jobs. While an expensive paint investment may not directly translate to higher resale value on an older car, a fresh coat of factory-quality paint still restores any vehicle to its original beauty.

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