What You Need To Know Before Painting Your Car

Published: December 3, 2022
Last updated: December 13, 2022

Having your vehicle painted can result in a myriad of advantages. As a New York Times article discussed, painting your car is a fantastic way to boost its value. SUVs in flashy colors, for instance, have a much higher value than vehicles that are purple, brown, and gold (with brown cars losing as much as 42% in value). Aside from choosing a paint color that can hike a vehicle’s value, car owners can paint their car to enhance its shine and overall aesthetic. Whatever your reason may be, painting your car entails careful planning.

In doing so, there are many things to consider. The types of car paint and the costs for painting your vehicle will vary on a case-to-case basis. To help guide you through a paint job, we’ve compiled a few things you should know before you commit.

What are the different types of paint for vehicles?

 Various types of paint are available in professional auto shops. There are four main categories that you should be aware of: acrylic lacquer paint, water-based paint, acrylic enamel paint, and urethane paint. Generally, although acrylic lacquer paint is the cheapest, it is also the thinnest option and requires an additional top coat to prolong the paint job. It's therefore best to opt for either urethane paint or acrylic enamel paint for long-lasting results. If you want a less traditional option, a recent Insider feature reports that thermotropic paint has been gaining popularity. The car paint, akin to mood rings, changes color depending on the temperature. Ultimately, there are many options out there that can meet your interests and help maximize the costs of painting your car.

How much will it cost?

Painting your car is an investment. A car paint article on Sound Dollar explains that the cost is determined by the extent of the work you want done. For basic paint jobs, you’re looking at paying between $300 to $900. This involves painting over a car without any repairs for blemishes and rust. Meanwhile, a specialty paint job uses more layers of paint and fixes issues in your car’s bodywork. This can cost upward of $20,000. Ideally, it’s best to have a list of shops so you have various quotes to choose from. After all, paint jobs can be pricey. Car insurance won't cover the fees unless you’re painting your vehicle as a result of a collision. Although professional body shops are the best place to go, minor touch-ups can be done on your own. This way, you’ll only spend around $100 to $1,000 for the supplies (such as drop cloths, paint masker, and a paint sprayer) and save yourself money in the long run.

Does my car need prep prior to painting?

To achieve a smoother canvas prior to painting, certain blemishes like rust spots are crucial to remove beforehand. You should also thoroughly inspect your car’s exterior to see which areas need more prep. Our post ‘The Best Way to Paint a Car Roof’ explains how your car roof is an area that’s commonly exposed to elements. Dirt, dust, and debris can accumulate on the surface and rust spots can develop. As such, it’s important to use a sandpaper or grinder to eliminate these spots. If the metal is heavily rusted, you can also utilize a metal grinder. If you’re entrusting a shop with your paint job, make sure that they dismantle the rubber trim and tail lights and turn signals of your vehicle. This guarantees that there are no noticeable lines between the painted and unpainted parts of your car.

How long will a paint job last?

Generally, a paint job should last 10 to 15 years— provided that the vehicle is properly cared for. However, paint durability depends on the type of paint you use, as well as the quality of the brand. Acrylic lacquer paint, for instance, can last for five years. Meanwhile, urethane paint lets you hold off on re-painting your car for longer. One way you can support the efficacy of both paint options is by maintaining the appearance of your car exterior. Long-term sun exposure and acidic substances can cause your car paint to age quicker. So aside from choosing a shop that utilizes high-quality materials and techniques, be consistent about taking care of your car. Apply car wax diligently and make it a habit to park under the shade where possible to avoid harmful UV rays.

Founder, Editor-in-Chief Carmelo Pickel is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Keep Driving, with almost 20 years of experience working in the industry. Before founding Keep Driving, Carmelo held leadership roles for over a decade on top automotive dealership corporations across North America, handling various leadership roles in Sales, Marketing, and Incentives.
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