How Much Does a Car Paint Job Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 13, 2018

While people have different motives for getting their car painted – to repair damage, to prevent rust, or simply to make the car look better – one of the first things they consider is the cost involved in doing so.  

Orange Body Detail by Steve Snodgrass, on Flickr
Orange Body Detail” (CC BY 2.0) by Steve Snodgrass

How much would it cost to paint a car?

The cost of painting a car can vary greatly depending on the amount of painting needed (the whole car or just certain parts), whether it is a new color or just a fresh coat of the same color, the quality of the paint, the number of coats, and whether or not the job is custom and involves specialty painting or not.  Independently owned auto body shops will usually charge between $300 to $2,000 for painting your car. 

A basic single-coat job will cost between $300 to $700, while the mid-level job that requires more prep work will cost about $1,000 to $2,100.

MAACO, for example, is a national auto body and paint chain that claims “We can charge less because we do more auto paint jobs than anyone else.”  Local Maaco dealers will charge between $200 and $500 per paint job.  The car paint job cost depends on the type and color of the car as well as whether it is an all-over paint job or a spot paint job.  The quality of paint and whether or not you want a protective clear-coat will also affect the price.

If you want a custom paint job with some type of design, specialty auto body shops will charge about $3,000 or as high as $8,000.  This will vary depending on the amount of detail in the painting and whether or not there are any other details to be painted such as in the engine or inside the car.  Top of the line paints can cost as much as $5,000.

According to a forum thread over on the website, AllFordMustangs.com, the forum members on the thread claim that they had spent anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 for a quality looking job.

Painting a car overview

Most auto body shops follow basically the same procedures for painting a car.  First, the car will be sanded down to create a nice smooth surface.   During this process, any dings, scratches or dents must be repaired.  As you can imagine, this is a labor-intensive process.  Then, after it is cleaned, a base coat or primer will be applied.  After that, the car will need to be taped very thoroughly to prevent paint from getting on things it is not supposed to.  Then the car will be painted by hand with a sprayer.

If you desire, a clear coat will be applied over the paint for protection.

Depending on the company you choose, most will include a limited warranty that may last up to five years.

What are the extra car painting costs?

If there is any damage to the car, such as dents, most places will charge extra to repair these before painting.

Extra layers of paint or protective clear coats will cost extra.

Higher quality paints are going to cost more than the standard ones that most shops use.  As mentioned above, customized jobs that may include special logos or designs can cost extra as well.

Cars that need minor touch-ups such as a ding or dent can add to the bill.

Many shops may not include the door jambs or underneath the hood.  When getting a quote, make sure that these parts are covered.

Tips to know:

Be sure to ask in regards to a warranty.  Depending on the company, the warranty can last for a few years.  This is going to protect your car from chipping, peeling, etc.

When choosing a company to paint your car, ask for referrals, or consider looking at before and after pictures.  This will give you a good idea on what they can do in terms of their work.

Read reviews online to see if anyone has any complaints.  Check search engines such as Google or even look through other review websites such as Yelp.  Also, check with the local Better Business Bureau to see what kind of grade the company received.

Types of car paint:

Acrylic

This type of paint is probably the cheapest that you can buy on the market.  Suitable for inexperienced painters, it can chip away easier over time.  Because this paint isn’t chemical resistant, owners can expect to perform a professional paint job down the road.  This type of paint can cost $25 to $40 per gallon.

Enamel

Tougher than an acrylic paint, an enamel paint will dry to a hard shell.   This type of paint won’t go on as easy as most, and it will require a two-part system.  Running anywhere from $45 to $60 per gallon, the brand will greatly reflect the price.

Urethane

Combining enamel and lacquer paints, this paint is probably one of the easiest to apply.  With tough strengths, the cost can run $75 to $100 per gallon.

Water-Based

As the most expensive type of car paint, a water-based paint is ideal for existing metal and primer paint jobs.  Commonly used for a custom job, the prices can vary from $110 to $135 per gallon.

How can I save money?

It is possible to paint your car yourself instead of having it professionally painted.  Services such as learnautopainting.com and easypaintyourcar.com can walk you through the process.  Remember that this process is a lot harder than you may think.  Failing to properly prepare your car could lead to damage in the future.

Don’t be cheap with a car paint job.  It could be very tempting to choose a company that will offer the best price.  Remember that you will more than likely get what you pay for when hiring a cheaper service.

How to compare prices:

If there is a Maaco in your area, it will probably give you the lowest price.  This isn’t always the case though as you’re going to want to check with at least three companies before making a decision.

Check with your insurance to see if auto painting is covered in your policy, especially if the damage is the result of an accident.  Sometimes the insurance company will tell you which auto body shop to go to.

Feel free to haggle with the initial price.  Many shops are more than willing to knock at least 20 percent off the price.  It never hurts to ask as the worst thing that they can say is no.


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Average Reported Cost: $400

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0 %
Less Expensive $1 $1.5K $3K $5K $6.5K More Expensive $8k

How much did you spend?

Was it worth it?  

  1. dJade36 (Hinesville,  Georgia) paid $400 and said:

    A simple but long scratches on both passenger side doors already costs $400. It is how deep the scratches were and the professional that makes the rate high.

    Was it worth it? Yes

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