How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Car?

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Paint is one of the most important parts of your car, and it's also one of the most expensive. The cost of paint depends on several factors, including the type of paint you choose, how many coats are needed, and where you live.

The average car paint job costs between $500 and $2,000 depending on the quality and type of paint used. High-end paint jobs can cost upwards of $5,000. Small jobs like touch-ups rarely cost more than $1,000.

But how much will your paint job cost, and what factors influence the price to have your car painted? Here's everything you need to know about it and how to save money on your next car paint job.

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Types of Car Paint Repair

There are a few different types of car paint jobs. The most common type is touch-up, which involves the use of a high-quality automotive paint sprayer to apply a new coat of paint over an existing damaged area on your vehicle.

Whole-body paint jobs are the costliest, as they require the most amount of prep and paint. In many cases, body panels must be removed if you expect a high-quality paint job. These jobs can take many hours to prep and complete.

Cost of a Basic Car Paint Job

A basic car paint job is the most affordable way to change your vehicle's appearance. It can be done in less than an hour, and it will cost you around $300-$500. However, this type of paint job is not recommended, as the results are often so bad that it creates meme-worthy content.

Cost of a Mid-Grade Car Paint Job

The cost of a mid-grade car paint job is going to be based on the size and type of vehicle, as well as any customization that is made. A mid-grade paint job will typically not include chrome or other custom features. The average price for a mid-grade paint job is between $750-$2,000.

Cost of a High-End Car Paint Job

The cost of a high-end automotive paint job depends heavily on the type of vehicle, how many colors you want, and what kind of finish you choose. The average price for a high-end professional paint job is $1,200-$5,500. Increased labor and material costs cause a big disparity between mid-grade and custom high-end jobs.

Car Paint Job Cost Factors

The primary factors that influence the price of a car paint job are how much time and effort it takes and what kind of paint is used. Location, vehicle size, and other factors also contribute.

Vehicle Type

As you'd probably guess, the size of a vehicle has a lot to do with the cost of a paint job. A small sedan will cost less than a large SUV, but a fine show car or classic could cost more regardless of its size.

Paint Shop Location

The location of a vehicle's body shop (and the vehicle itself) can affect the price of its paint job. For instance, if you live in an area with high traffic and/or heavy trucking, your vehicle will likely need more work to make it look good than if you lived somewhere less busy.

The cost of painting varies by city, state, and country. You may find that some cities charge more than others for their services. If this happens, ask around about the costs in other areas before making a decision.

Car Paint Job Quality

Some paint shops are known for cheap, poorly-done work that flakes and bubbles within a few years. As with anything in the automotive industry, you get what you pay for when it comes to car paint.

If you're just trying to cover up flaking paint on the hood, it won't be too expensive. But if you're repainting a car you care about, it'll cost you two or three times as much for a proper job with adequate prep and disassembly.

Paint Quality and Cost

Car paint varies in price to a dramatic degree. The cheapest car paints cost between $30-$100 per quart, but you'll need more than a gallon for an average-sized vehicle. Sometimes several gallons. That price might seem high, but that's actually the cheaper end of the spectrum.

Several coats of high-quality car paint can cost thousands or more. Two-tone, clear coat and other additional steps cost extra.

If you want to save money long-term when painting your vehicle, consider using high-quality paints that will last longer and require fewer coats.

Car Paint Color

Standard paint colors, such as black, white, and silver, are often the cheapest. However, specialty colors (including proprietary shades of standard colors) can cost several times as much for the same job, especially if they have to be special-ordered from a manufacturer.

Repairs and Body Work

Deep scratches and dents on your car will probably cost you more to repair than it usually would. Even if the painter doesn't offer to fix any imperfections, he might charge extra because he'll have to paint around them.

Some paint shops may even reject cars that have lots of surface damage. Painting damaged areas without proper protection can cause flaws to pop up in the paint over time.

How to Save Money on a Car Paint Job

When it comes to your vehicle's exterior paint job, you don't want to spend too much money on work that isn't going to last. Here are some ways to save money while still getting a great-looking car.

1. Choose a Reputable Car Paint Shop

When choosing a company to do your car paint job, choose one that has been around for at least five years. This is a sign that they know what they're doing and how to keep your vehicle looking new. Check online reviews from past customers to see if they were satisfied with their service.

2. Ask about Discounts and Special Offers

Most companies offer discounts for multiple vehicles, large jobs, and bulk orders. Make sure to ask about these deals and see if any online or newspaper coupons were recently made available. Also, ask if there are any special offers for first-time clients.

3. Look Around at Multiple Paint Shops

Get estimates from at least three different paint shops. Compare them and pick the one that gives you the most bang for your buck. Remember, you aren't obligated to go through with the lowest bid.

4. Don't Let Painters Pressure You into Buying Extras

Some painters try to sell you things like custom wheels and body kits. These items are not necessary for a good paint job. If you feel pressured by the shop tech, walk away and find another company.

5. Ask about Warranties

Ask if the company provides a warranty on its work. It's important to get this information in writing so you can hold the paint shop accountable if anything goes wrong. This can save you thousands down the road.

6. Do the Prep Work Yourself

If you have the tools and the experience, do the pre-paint prep work yourself. Remove glass fenders, and do the minor bodywork with a Bondo body repair kit.

Be sure to sand the surface down to bare metal and apply an even coat of primer too. Delivering your vehicle partially disassembled and ready to paint will save you hundreds on the project.

7. Choose Single Stage Car Paint

If you're looking to save money on a car paint job but still get good prep work and high-quality paint, consider single-stage paint.

Single-stage car paint jobs are the most popular and easiest to do. They require only one coat of paint, which is applied with a spray gun or roller. The best part about this type of project is that it's fast and inexpensive.