How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Car?

car getting repainted

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Scratches and dings in your car are a pain. Professional paint jobs can be expensive, so if you find yourself in a situation where you need to fix something on your vehicle, you might be considering doing it yourself. But should you?

How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Car Yourself?

The supplies to paint a car yourself can run from $100 up to $1,500, depending on the materials needed. The biggest cost of painting a car yourself will likely be the headache that comes along with it. The pros often add several of coats of primer, paint, and topcoat to ensure a quality finish. Does that sound like something you have the time and energy to commit to?

If you want to do it yourself, you will need a well-ventilated area where dust and dirt won’t fly onto the wet car and ruin the new paint job while it is drying. Mineral spirits to clean the vehicle, sandpaper to remove any grime or rust, masking tape to precisely outline the area you are painting and cover anything you don’t want to be painted. You will also need brushes and paint trays, and primer and glossy car paint.

For a professional looking job, you will need specialized tools and a lot of patience. Unless you are just fixing a tiny scratch or have the expertise, consider leaving this one to the pros.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Professional to Paint Your Car?

You don’t have to spend a fortune just because you forego the DIY route. Most pro paint jobs come at different levels, and you can choose the one that fits your budget and your needs.

  • A basic paint job will likely cost you well under $1,000. The process will involve a few coats of synthetic enamel paint, and less attention to detail than higher levels of paint jobs would entail.
  • For a bit more, you can get a “standard” paint job that includes sanding down the body to ensure a smooth surface, remove impurities, and leave you with a prettier finished product. You will likely be spending around $1,000 to over $3,000 for this paint job, but it will last longer and look better than a basic job would.
  • Finally, if you have a car you like to show off, you will want to invest in a showroom quality job. This process entails removing all of the paint on the metal frame, hammering out any dents that the metal has taken over the years, and carefully adding dozens of layers of paint. Because it could cost nearly as much as a new car (around $20,000), you’ll only want to invest in this if you have got a collector’s item on your hand (or enjoy throwing money down the toilet).

How Can I Get The Best Deal on a Paint Job?

Rather than paying attention to the name of the service offered, pay attention to what you are getting. If you have an older car and need a scratch covered up, you probably don’t need to invest in a paint job that requires any sanding down. Make sure to specify what you are looking for upfront, and be prepared to say “no” if and when the auto shop tries to entice you with a more expensive offering.

What Factors Should I Consider When Comparing DIY to Professional Rates?

Ultimately, the only person who can decide if a professional paint job is worth it or not is you. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Cost: How much would the supplies of a DIY job cost? How much time would you spend trying to paint a car yourself, and how much is your time worth? Is hiring a pro worth it to you? Are you honest with yourself about how long a DIY job would take and how well you would be able to do it?
  • Quality: How long will a DIY paint job last, and how long can you expect a professional one to ask? How good will a DIY job look in comparison to a professional job?
  • Convenience: How important is it to you to save a few dollars upfront vs. save several hours?

How Should I Choose the Best Place to Get a Professional Paint Job?

The most helpful way will be reading Yelp reviews in your area or asking friends and neighbors for suggestions. Your local trusty auto body shop might have recommendations for you, or they might even have someone in-house who can get the paint job done for you.

Article Sources

  1. CostHelper. "Auto Painting Cost," Accessed Oct. 7, 2019. 

  2. Automotive Training Center. "Professional Car Painting Tips for the Automotive Collision Technician," Accessed Oct. 7, 2019.