Select Page

cost to paint a car

Need a new coat of paint for your ride? Whether you are repairing collision damage, tired of looking at surface oxidation, or just want to change the color of your car – it can be difficult to get an accurate paint estimate. In fact, I’ve received estimates ranging from $500 to $5000 to paint the same car! WTF!?

Many of my readers have been wanting to know how much it costs to paint a car. It’s a tough question, but I’ll do my best to answer it in this article.

Editor’s Note: Want to do it yourself? Use the right tools for the job:

devilbiss finishline hvlp gravity feed paint gun tekton oil water separator msa paint respirator
Devilbiss Finishline 4 FLG-670 HVLP Gravity Feed Paint Gun TEKTON 4755 Oil/Water Separator MSA Safety Works 817662 Paint Respirator

Factors that Affect Car Painting Prices

car painting estimates

There are two main factors that affect the cost to paint a car. The first is prep work and the second is paint quality.


Before a car can be painted it must be sanded from top to bottom. Any dents, dings or scratches must be repaired at this time as well. All this work is time consuming and labor intensive.

Another area of prep that often gets overlooked is the masking. When your car is being painted, parts of it will need to be protected from overspray. These include the windows, mirrors, trim, headlights, tail lights, door handles, antennas, tires and spoiler.

The most effective way to do this is to remove the trim and carefully mask the surrounding areas. This will guarantee the cleanest and most professional looking paint job. However, this too, is time consuming.

To save time, many discount paint shops will mask over the trim with tape, giving a less professional finished look. If this is important to you, don’t skimp on a quality painter.

As I mentioned above, the second factor that affects the cost to paint a car is paint quality. When comparing paint estimates, be sure to ask your body shop about the quality of paint they plan on using. More expensive paint offers increased durability, as well as reduced chipping and peeling overtime.

I should also point out that cheap paint is rarely guaranteed to last. On the other hand, high-end paint brands frequently offer a lifetime warranty.

Also while comparing estimates, you’ll need to ask about primer and clear coat options. Both of these will add to the overall cost, but will improve the quality of your paint job.

Painting Options

When I’m looking for any type of cost estimates online, I get really frustrated when I can only find “vague” answers. I’m confident that I’m not the only one that feels this way. To give you a better car painting estimate, here are a few quotes I received to paint a car near my home.

$750 – Price included base and clearcoat to paint a Toyota Corolla. Estimate did not include prep work to sand and prime. No trim would be removed.

$2,500 – Estimate to prep and paint a Ford F-150. No major dent repair needed. High quality paint and clearcoat would be used. All trim to be removed and reinstalled.

$7,500 – Received an estimate to return a 1969 Corvette to its original color. Price included sanding, body repair, basecoat and clearcoat. All trim and glass to be removed.

DIY: Can You Paint a Car For Less Than $100?

Are you cash strapped but have a bunch of time on your hands? You could be a good candidate to paint your own car. First, you’ll need a paint sprayer, sand paper and lots of time. If you have these tools, painting your own car could cost less than you might imagine.

Just take a look at this video that shows you how to do it for less than $100.

Next Steps

As you can see there is a lot to consider when getting your car painted. Not only does price vary greatly between shops, but so does quality. The first question you need to ask yourself is “what level of quality paint job do I need?” The answer to this question will be the key to making the next decisions.

If you are planning on giving your car a fresh coat of paint to give it a new look, you may not need to pay thousands to have it refinished. However, if you are restoring a 1969 Corvette, you’ll likely want to pay for showroom quality.

The second question you’ll need to answer is “how much prep work can I do myself?” As I mentioned earlier, one of the most expensive parts of having a car painted is the sanding and prep work. If you have the skills or time to do some or all of this work yourself, you could possibly save yourself a small fortune.

Have you recently painted your car? Send me a note on Twitter and let me know how much it cost to paint your car.

devilbiss finishline hvlp gravity feed paint gun tekton oil water separator msa paint respirator
Devilbiss Finishline 4 FLG-670 HVLP Gravity Feed Paint Gun TEKTON 4755 Oil/Water Separator MSA Safety Works 817662 Paint Respirator