How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Car?

Factors to Consider for Your Fresh Paint Job

If you’re a car enthusiast or just someone looking to refresh the appearance of your vehicle, one of the questions lingering in your mind is likely, “How much does it cost to paint a car?” Whether you’re considering a full-color change, fixing scratches and dings, or simply adding a touch of personal flair, the costs can change. Let’s dive into the factors that influence the price tag and explore the options available to give your car that brand-new look.

Basics of a Paint Job

A car’s paint job does more than just enhance its aesthetic appeal— it protects against rust, scratches, chips, and environmental damage. It’s an integral aspect of your car’s maintenance. So, when you see a car’s paint fading or chipping, it’s only natural to contemplate a fresh coat. But then you have to worry about cost, especially a full coat versus chip repair. You may also be looking to paint your car alongside collision repair to ensure a seamless appearance.

Before diving into the numbers, let’s take a moment to appreciate the complexity and labor-intensive nature of a proper car repaint. It’s not about just splashing on a new color; quality car painting involves surface prep and repair, primer, sanding, sealing, color coats, clear coat, and polish. Each must be done at the right time and with close attention to detail.

Understanding the Price Spectrum

Car painting costs vary wildly depending on several factors, such as the quality of materials, labor costs, the car’s size, location, degree of surface prep needed, and the shop itself. Generally, you can expect an average of $500-$5000+.

Getting a Basic Paint Job - Cutting Corners or Saving Money?

A basic paint job can cost anywhere between $500-1000. These jobs save you money because they often limit the amount of prep work or use lower-quality paint. Here are some areas where body shops often cut corners in cheaper paint jobs:
  • Preparation:

    Prep work is one of the most critical components of a quality paint job. With cheaper services, some shops may skip sanding or not do it properly, leading to unevenness or visible imperfections. They may also not remove or mask off parts of the car, leading to paint on windows and tires.
  • Number of Coats:

    Cheap paint jobs often involve fewer coats of paint, usually one or two. This can result in less vibrant color and lower durability.
  • Quality of Paint:

    Lower-quality paint is cheaper, but it doesn’t last as long and fades more quickly when exposed to sunlight.
  • Streaking Paint:

    If the paint technician uses too much paint, it’s possible to get runny, swirly, or bubbly paint. No matter the paint quality used, streaking paint will look cheap.
  • Clear Coat:

    Some lower-cost options may not include clear coat. This may cause your car to lose its shine faster. Oftentimes only 1 coat of clear is sprayed, however, at least 3 coats are recommended for a standard paint job.

Professional Paint Jobs - Getting Your Car Painted Right

You can expect to get your car painted with a professional paint job between $1000-$8000. The price increase is due to the quality of work and high quality paint.
  • Preparation:

    Prep work here is more thorough, including proper sanding and removal or masking of non-painted parts.
  • Number of Coats:

    Multiple coats are applied, at least three, for a more robust and vibrant look.
  • Quality of Paint:

    You can expect higher-end paint, which resists sun fading and stands up longer to wear and tear.
  • Clear Coat:

    A clear coat should be included in professional paint jobs to ensure the durability and glossiness of the finish.

Custom Paint Jobs - When a Simple "New Paint Job" is Not Enough

Custom paint jobs are a higher-end professional category that can start around $2,000 and climb even higher than $20,000. These often involve custom designs, special effects, and/or premium materials.
  • Custom Designs:

    Detailed, hand-drawn designs or artwork considerably increase cost due to the considerable time and skill required.
  • Premium Materials:

    Some custom jobs call for more expensive paints, like candy or metallic colors, or even real gold leaf.
  • Detailing and Finishing:

    Special finishes and textures can also be applied, such as flakes or matte/gloss finish.
  • Additional Labor:

    The labor costs are much higher due to the complexity of the work. Skilled artisans who specialize in custom auto painting are typically engaged for these jobs.
As with many things in life, a paint job often falls into the category of “you get what you pay for.” It’s a good idea to shop around and get paint job prices before you opt for a new paint job.

Factors Affecting Cost

One of the primary factors will generally be the quality of the paint used. Urethane and acrylic enamel paints are less expensive, but they also don’t last as long. Premium-quality UC-resistant acrylic lacquers cost more initially, but they’re a better investment in the long run. Let’s take a look at other factors that can affect your costs.

Color Choice

Universal colors like black or white will be cheaper than special or even custom hues and mixed colors. Color-shifting paint can significantly increase your costs, as well, but leave you with an exquisite aesthetic.

Surface Preparation

If your car has a lot of dents and dings, scratches, or rust that need rectification, you will end up paying more. It’s not a good idea to simply paint over these issues, as it can lead to issues with the paint layers and reduce the quality of your paint job. Surface issues can also cause your paint to deteriorate faster as it was not allowed to be set properly.

Vehicle Size

Larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs will need a lot more paint; they also have a higher potential for needing repair simply because they have a larger surface area that could be damaged. Smaller vehicles like cars and motorcycles have less damage potential and a smaller surface to cover. The type of vehicle can also affect cost, as some cars are designed more intricately with little details and designs.

Additional Features

Special treatments like rustproofing, undercoating, or special applications like clear coat and sealant can add to your bill. Adding details that are different colors can make for a unique vehicle that stands out, but it will run you additional costs.

Full Coat Versus Repairs

If you want a new coat of paint, you’ll end up paying more than if you just want to repair some damage. Adding additional detail on top of a base coat will also vary based on whether you use your existing paint job or start from scratch.

Warranties and Guarantees

Body shops offer different levels of warranty. You want to ensure that you pay for a warranty that will cover peeling, fading, or other defects that can arise when working with paint; reputable shop warranties may cost more, but you have another layer of confidence in the longevity and quality of work performed.

DIY versus Professional Services

It’s true that you might save a bit by endeavoring to paint your car yourself. However, painting a car requires specialized equipment and expertise. Without the necessary tools, your paint job isn’t going to look right or last well. Professional auto body shops like Mizzoni’s Auto Body are better equipped and trained to get things done properly the first time around, saving you the hassle of trying to get the right tools, applying layers correctly, and potentially spending more in the long run for re-dos.

Making the Right Choice for Your Wallet

Determining how much it costs to paint a car ultimately boils down to what you want, what you need, and what your budget allows. If you aren’t in a hurry, you have more time to save for that fancy, exotic look. Additionally, a cheap paint job might save you in the short term but cost you more as time passes and you need more repairs.

An inexpensive paint job might be appealing, but there are many reasons why a good paint job simply costs more. Quality paint doesn’t just add to the beauty of your car, it also extends the life of its bodywork. Mid-to-high range options ensure quality and durable work, protecting your investment.

Navigating the price spectrum can feel a bit overwhelming. That’s why our expert team of paint technicians is here to help you get that fresh paint job within your budget. With our years of experience and commitment to quality, we’re more than happy to help you pick the paint options that best fit your budget while maintaining a good look.

Mizzoni's Auto Body Location

178 US 46 East, Lodi, NJ 07644   |   |   Hours: Monday – Friday 8am-5pm and Saturday 8am – 12pm
P: 973.777.7115   |   F: 973.777.6929