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How much does it cost to paint a car?

Car body shop maker painting vehicle | loraks/
Car body shop maker painting vehicle | loraks/


The burning sun and lashing rain take a toll on your car. Paint starts to fade, and the accumulation of dirt and scratches ages the vehicle.

Painting the bodywork is an opportunity to rejuvenate its original look or even to try out a new look with a different color. However, spray-painting any vehicle is a long process that involves special tools and skills, so it's a job best left to a professional.

Before you start contacting local auto shops for quotes, it's a good to ask yourself: How much does it cost to paint a car?

Professional painting or DIY?

While it's possible to paint your own vehicle, it involves patience, skill and a range of paints and tools that you may need to purchase specifically for the job. Furthermore, the end result may not be of a particularly high-quality, making do-it-yourself paint jobs more suitable for older vehicles or all-terrain vehicles that frequently pick up knocks and scratches.

For people looking to restore a family vehicle or collector's car to its original condition, it's usually a better idea to employ the services of an auto repair shop where professionals apply up to 24 even coats of paint for a high-gloss, durable finish.

Professional auto painting costs

Many body shops offer several levels of service to cater to customers with different budgets and requirements:

  • Basic: The most inexpensive paint job involves as few coats as possible, using synthetic enamel paint. For the basic job, the painters are unlikely to paint areas that are not normally visible, such as the inside of the hood. Costs range from $300 to $900.

  • Standard: The cost of a standard paint job usually includes sanding the body and removing rust before painting to get an attractive finish. Costs range from $1,000 to $3,500.

  • Showroom quality: This process involves sanding the bodywork down to bare metal, removing all of the rust and dents, and then applying up to 24 coats of high quality paint. The project may take up to a month, and the costs may be as high as $20,000 in some cases.

DIY auto painting costs

For older vehicles, the cost of a professional paint job may be excessive. In these cases, you may wish to try painting the vehicle yourself. The necessary materials are widely available from hardware and automotive stores for as little as $75. Your only other costs are in time and effort.

The required materials and tools include:

  • Gloss paint

  • Primer

  • Foam brushes

  • Paint trays

  • Masking tape

  • Sandpaper

  • Mineral spirits for cleaning

One of the biggest concerns with a DIY project is finding a location to paint the vehicle. Many body shops have climate-controlled booths, designed to limit the amount of dust and dirt that might come into contact with the paint and ruin the finish.

For a DIY project, the best option is to paint the vehicle in a clean, well-ventilated garage.

Quality vs. price

Everybody wants a cost-effective service, so when you are contacting body shops to get quotes for your auto-painting project, it's tempting to go for the lowest price offer.

However, you get what you pay for. Lowball quotations may be for a low-quality paint job, using inferior materials. Rather than removing trim, the painters may simply mask it off; and they may not paint areas that aren't visible. Furthermore, the quotation may not include certain services that the auto painters charge as an additional rate.

Before committing to a service, ask the painters what their price covers. Check if sanding and preparing the bodywork is part of the cost, and look at previous examples of their work to make sure you are happy with the quality.


When deciding to get your vehicle repainted, always be sure to figure out how much it costs to paint a car.

So, after finding out the costs, consider your budget carefully. If you try to get the job done as inexpensively as possible, the work may not be to a high standard, leaving you displeased with the result.

Conversely, if you look at the most expensive paint jobs, you may decide it's better to trade in your car for a new model. You also may wish to consider alternatives, such as vinyl wraps which start at around $1,500.

SEARCH RATES: Compare rates on new and used cars from nearby lenders today.

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