What is Involved in Determining the Cost of a Car Paint Job?

Erin J. Hill

The main factors which help determine the cost of a car paint job include the quality of paint used, the level of damage on the existing paint, and whether any special work will need to be done. In general, the higher than paint quality, the higher the price. Budget places may offer painting services for very little, but the workmanship is far less than those with a factory level job. The surface area that needs painting will also play a part, because a van takes more time and effort to paint than a small sedan.

A man painting a car.
A man painting a car.

One of the main factors in determining the cost of a car paint job is the quality of materials and work. Cheaper options generally paint over the existing paint and may fade or chip with time. Higher end painting specialists can make a car look like new by stripping the existing paint, removing any rust, and using higher grade paints.

The quality of the paint goes a long way towards determining the cost of a car paint job, as cheaper paints will simply be painted over the existing paint.
The quality of the paint goes a long way towards determining the cost of a car paint job, as cheaper paints will simply be painted over the existing paint.

If there is extensive damage to the existing paint, such as severe peeling or rusting, the price will go up based on how much prep work is required to make painting possible. The surface area is also a major factor. If only a small area needs to be retouched due to chipping or scratches, that will be much cheaper than painting the entire car.

Other things which factor into the cost of a car paint job include any specialty work or decoration which needs to be done. Some companies specialize in adding wording, color variation, or other specialty designs like decals and pictures. These can be pricey, and the cost will go up depending on the size of the design and how complicated it is to create. The more colors and the greater the detail required, the most the paint job will cost.

Consumers can find out which things will most greatly affect the cost of a car paint job in a particular shop by speaking with the owner or operator and discussing their needs. It is a good idea to shop around before choosing a place, and many reputable shops offer a warranty on their work for a certain period of time. This is true of even some of the less expensive options.

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Discussion Comments


A good paint job can be expensive. When I bought my first car, a used hatchback, the dealer told me he had taken the car to a body shop and had a cheap paint job done. The car looked great, and I bought it.

The car continued to look great for a couple years then I started to notice that the paint was running when I washed it. It wasn't bad, but the paint was definitely coming off. I kept the car a couple more years and I was fine with the paint job. However, that just shows you how a cheap paint job can differ from custom car paint jobs.


Sporkasia - Using a lower quality paint can make a big difference in paint job prices. There are other things that affect the price you pay. For example, the company that paints a lot of cars is more likely to be cost efficient. They have figured out exactly how to maximize their profits. By offering lower prices and using TV advertising they are getting more customers so they can afford to make a little less on each customer.

The small body shop down the street doesn't have as much money for advertising and they don't paint as many cars, so they have to make as much profit as possible off each job.

However, be sure to get a car paint job estimate before you drop off your car to be painted. The price you see in the ad may not be the price they charge to paint your car. Many times, there are additional charges for individual vehicles, as was pointed out in the article.


There's this commercial I see on TV often. It offers a paint job at a low price. The company is well known and I wonder how they can afford to paint cars so much cheaper than the body shop down the street. After reading the article, I'm thinking they use cheap car paint to make up for the price difference.

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