There are a lot of reasons why you might be wondering how much it costs to paint a car. From normal aging to mystery scratches, over time the glossy finish of our car can fade along with the car's value. While we may never know exactly how all the scratches got on our car, we can know how much it costs to get a new paint job. We’ve done the research and have all the information you need to get a good idea of how much it costs to paint a car.
It can cost you $300-$3000 to paint a car. There are a few levels of commonly available paint jobs that will affect the price. On the low end, you can get your car painted for $300-$900. A good quality car paint job will cost you anywhere from $1000-3000. A showroom-quality or specialty vehicle paint job will cost you upwards of $2500, with high-end around $20,000.
As you can see, there is a pretty significant range in the cost to paint a car. Some of the factors that go into the price are the quality of the job and materials, the type of car to be painted, and whether there are is any existing body damage that needs to be painted over or around. Read on to learn all about the ins and outs of how much it may cost to paint your car.
Types Of Paint Jobs
While the specifics of pricing and quality will vary from shop to shop and state to state, there are three commonly found levels of car paint jobs for you to choose from. As with most things, the more you pay the better quality you will get. However, there are some budget options that are worth exploring as you decide how and where to get your car painted.
Budget Car Paint Job
Painting your car can be rather cheap if you choose to go with a budget option. As we showed earlier, a basic low-end paint job will usually cost you less than $1000, with an average cost of $300-900. The lower price of this level of paint job comes from the usage of lower quality paint and a faster turn-around due to less attention to detail.
Usually, the shop will just paint over any existing paint, scratches or dents. While this may make your car look better in the short term, it will simply hide the appearance of body damage without solving the problem, and the rust or damage will still be noticeable.
Additionally, the shop will typically not remove any trim pieces before painting, which may leave drastic edges from being taped off. Also, the shop will rarely paint the inside of the door jams or under the hood. This type of paint job can be affordable in a pinch, but for long-lasting and high-quality results, it’s best to pay more now rather than even more later.
For budget paint jobs, there are a number of national chains that host franchises nationwide. As always, consult with the Better Business Bureau and check reviews of the specific shop before having work done there.
- Maaco is a national chain that advertises affordable car paint jobs. They estimate the cost to paint a car at $399-$699, though this may vary by location.
- Economy Paint in Riverside, CA lists their prices as ranging from $395-$895.
- Econo Paint, a franchise located throughout the southeastern USA, lists their starting price at $395.
- If a touch-up is all you need, it will usually be much cheaper. For example, Paintcraft, located in Orange County, CA, lists their price range as $125-$250 depending on the size of the area to be painted.
Good Quality Car Paint Job
A good quality paint job can have a greater range in price than a budget paint job, averaging between $1000-$3000. This is because a paint job of this caliber will involve more prep, and the amount of prep required will vary widely with the condition of your car.
Additionally, this type of paint job will typically use a more expensive but higher-quality, longer-lasting paint. The preparations that go into this type of paint job will involve some sanding or buffing of your car as well as one or more coats of primer before the paint is applied.
A shop performing this type of job will usually take the effort to remove the plastic trim before painting, and they will be sure to paint inside door jams and under the hood as well. This is the highest quality type of car paint job that the majority of drivers will ever need. Services like this are typically offered by auto body shops with skilled technicians and experienced painters.
- Sam’s Autobody in Pheonix, AZ lists their cost to paint a car at $1000-$2000 before taxes and material costs.
- Dallas Auto Paint in Dallas, TX offers a tiered range of painting options, ranging from $1000-$6000.
Showroom Quality Or Specialty Paint Job
The cost to paint a car at showroom quality or a specialty paint job will cost drastically more than a good quality or budget paint job, with low-end prices starting around $2,500 and reaching up to $20,000 for incredibly complex jobs.
In a show-room quality paint job, the painter will typically sand down all previous paint to the bare metal before beginning to reapply primer and up to twenty-four coats of paint! A specialty paint job, such as airbrushing or painting vintage vehicles that require extra care, will be comparable in price to a showroom quality paint job.
- Fast Eddie's Auto Body in Manassas, VA estimates that custom paint jobs, such as two-tone, can cost upwards of $20,000.
As you can see, there’s a lot of variation in the types of paint jobs that might be right for you. No matter what type of car you have or the price you may find, always be sure to thoroughly investigate a specific shop before having them work on your car. Now that we’ve gotten through the basics of how much it costs to paint a car, let’s answer some common follow-up questions.
How Do I Maintain My Car’s New Paint Job?
Once you’ve gotten your new car paint job, it’s important to take good care of it in order for it to last a long time. One very simple way to care for your car is to take it to the car wash. Car washes are inexpensive, and when performed regularly, can add to the longevity of your car’s shine.
There are some additional common upkeep issues that might require more than just a basic car wash to remedy. For example, tree sap and bird waste are two things to look out for, as these can easily damage your car's paint.
How Long Does It Take To Paint A Whole Car?
The length of time it will take to paint a whole car depends on the quality of the paint job and the preexisting condition of the car itself. A budget paint job can usually be done fairly quickly. Maaco, the previously mentioned national chain, lists their timing as 2-3 business days, but many customers report getting their car even sooner.
A better quality paint job can take anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks, depending on the relative business of the shop, and how much prep work your car may need. For showroom or comparable quality, a paint job may take up to several months to apply all of the individual coats of paint.
Can A Car Be Painted In One Day?
While certainly possible, painting a car in one day will typically result in a lower-quality finish, as it only allows enough time for very few coats of paint to dry. Additionally, if your goal is to finish painting your car in a single day, there will not be very much time to go into preparing your car’s body to be painted.
Can I Paint My Car Myself?
Yes, you can paint your car yourself, but unless you are very confident in your painting and taping abilities, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. If you do feel confident in your car painting ability, however, it can save you thousands of dollars. You first will need to acquire the necessary materials:
And of course, paint.
Once you’ve acquired the materials, you’ll want to select a worksite where you can leave your car for at least a few days that will be out of the direct sun and away from blowing dust or debris. First, you’ll sand down your vehicle’s paint job, paying special attention to any problem areas with lots of rust or scratches.
Then, after wiping down your sanded vehicle, you’ll tape off and cover any areas that you don’t want to paint. After applying primer, you’ll apply consecutive coats of paint, allowing each one to dry before applying an additional coat.
Can I Spray Paint My Car?
You certainly can spray paint your car, as all car painting is typically done with a spray gun. As mentioned above, purchasing a spray gun and painting your own car can save you thousands in costs. If you are on an even tighter budget, you can use regular store-bought cans of spray paint, though this is not highly recommended for a number of reasons.
While this may only cost you in the tens of dollars as opposed to hundreds for a typical DIY job or even thousands for a professional job, the finished look will reflect the price. Spray paint from a can will not last as long as other types of paint, often fading in uneven patches. Applying spray paint evenly on the body of your car from a normal spray paint can be very difficult.
Choose Your Paint!
Now that we've gone through the usual cost to paint your car, the various types of paint jobs you can get, and some additional questions, you're well prepared to make the best decision in regards to how and where to get your car painted.
Whether you're a staunch DIYer in need of a paint job on a budget, your average driver, or have a specialty paint job in mind, there is an option for you. As always, be sure to thoroughly investigate reviews and ask about any hidden fees before agreeing to have work done at a specific shop.