October 17, 2019

How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Car

Painting your car can give it an new look. But is it worth the cost? Keep reading to see if painting a car is the right option for you.

The Cost to Paint a Car

The average cost for a basic paint job with minimal prep work is $566.00. This includes one coat of synthetic enamel paint.

A higher quality paint job with better paint and more prep work could cost you an average of $1,316.00.

If you want to paint a specific area of the car, such as a door, the price will range from $300–$1,000. Basic colors on ordinary cars typically cost less, while specialty colors or larger cars cost closer to top of the range.

A bumper-to-bumper racing stripe can cost at least $500 depending on the size of the stripe, color, and type of car.

Before you choose a shop, ensure that they:
  • Take off the old paint
  • Prep the car by sanding it
  • Remove the necessary interior parts of the car
  • Allow enough time between coats for the paint to cure

The auto body shop typically masks or tapes the car to protect areas they don't paint, such as the trim. They sand down or repair dents or scratches.

Specialty Paint Jobs

Specialty paint jobs cost an average of $5,000. Depending on the type of paint and complexity of the job, prices range from $2,500–$20,000.

The most common specialty car paint jobs are:

  • Candy paint
  • Galaxy paint
  • Chameleon paint
  • Ghost stripes
  • Metal flakes

If you decide to change the color of your car, it's always a good idea to let the DMV know. If your car were stolen or you ran into other legal trouble, you want your car's description to match your registration.

Cost of Painting Your Car Yourself

A majority of the cost to paint your car goes towards labor costs. If you are good at painting, you may consider painting your car yourself.

You can purchase the materials needed to paint your car for as low as $100, depending on what you already have at home. These may include:

  • Drop cloths
  • Brushes
  • Primer
  • Auto paint
  • Top coat paint
  • Sand paper

Auto paint costs vary depending on the quality of paint you choose. Acrylic paint may cost $30/gallon, while enamel paint typically costs $50/gallon.

High-quality paint, such as urethane, can cost up to $90/gallon. Urethane paints combine the benefits of lacquer and enamel paints, giving you a long-lasting paint job.

The larger your car, the more paint you'll need to complete the job. Typically, most cars will need:

  • 1 gallon of primer
  • 2–3 gallons of auto paint
  • 2–3 gallons of top coat

If you have a scratch or ding in your car, spot painting can save you time and money. The cost will vary based on the size of the area and the necessary prep work. But it typically costs much less than painting an entire car.

Be sure to let a professional handle spot painting to ensure that the area blends in well with the rest of the car.


What is the most expensive color to paint your car?
Red and yellow paints typically cost the most because of the higher cost to create and finish these colors. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars more for red or yellow paint jobs.

How long does it take to paint a whole car?
Depending on the complexity of your paint job, it could take anywhere from 3 days to 1 week to paint your car.

As you shop around to find the best shop to paint your car, consider the time it takes. Shops that quote you a fast turnaround time may not provide the quality of work you desire.

How long does it take for car paint to dry?
Technically, car paint dries completely within 24 hours, but you'll still want to exercise caution with a newly painted car.

Avoid washing it with soap for at least 30 days to give the paint time to cure. Also, hold off on waxing and polishing the car for at least three months.

How many coats of paint does a car need?
Typically, auto body shops give cars:

  • 2 coats of primer paint
  • 2–3 coats of colored paint
  • At least 1–2 two coats of top coat paint

Higher quality paint jobs may need 3 coats of color paint to ensure a thorough and long-lasting job.

What color car paint is easiest to maintain?
White, silver, and gray are the easiest colors to maintain. Even without washing these colors for a few weeks, the dust and debris remains well hidden as long as the car remains dry.

Is it cheaper to wrap or paint a car?
A cheap or basic paint job may cost less than the cost to wrap your car. But any specialty paint jobs or high-end paint choices can cost more than a basic car wrapping job.

Paint is a permanent choice, while a car wrap is temporary, which can also weigh in on the cost/benefits of your choice.

What to do BEFORE painting your car
  • Repair flaws and dings painting for an even paint job

  • Find out what areas the painters will paint, such as trim and doorjambs

  • Ask about a warranty to ensure that you have some type of protection should the paint chip or fade prematurely

Bottom Line

Painting can give your car an entirely new look. The average cost of a paint job is $566. Higher quality paints will likely cost more. Specialty paint jobs, such as galaxy and chrome paint, can range from $2,500–$20,000.

Write to Kim P at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.


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