When you first got your car, it was likely shiny and new, with a sparkling paint job. But over the years your car’s paint job may lose some of its luster, or may even become damaged due to rust, hail or asevere storm, or a traffic accident.

If you’re thinking about touching up your car’s paint or redoing the paint job entirely, it helps to understand what the repainting process entails. The cost of a vehicle paint job by your local auto body shop can vary widely based on the repair work needed beforehand and the size of the area being repainted, among other factors.


An estimator at a local body shop near you can go over the specific steps needed for your vehicle. Generally, the steps to repainting a car include:

  • Repairing damage. If your vehicle has rust, weather or accident damage, technicians may first treat the area before repainting – the technicians will sand down the rusty areas, repair a dent, or patch a crack, etc.
  • Prepping the car for paint. After making repairs, the technician wipes down the vehicle to create a smooth, clean surface for the paint to adhere, before masking the areas not to be painted with tape or plastic coverings. If the area that needs repainted is big enough, the technician may remove that panel from the car completely.
  • Selecting the right paint color. The new paint is matched to the original paint. A common way to do this is for the technician to use the color code marked on the vehicle.
  • Applying the primer. After the area has been sanded and dried, the car is painted with primer, up to three coats depending on the job, with each coat drying before applying the next layer.
  • Re-sanding. Next, your car may be re-sanded, to help provide a smooth base before applying the paint.
  • Painting the car. Up to three or four layers of the paint are applied on top of the primer, again with each layer drying before starting the next one.
  • Applying lacquer or a topcoat. After the paint is once again sanded with fine sandpaper and wiped down, a topcoat of lacquer can be applied, to give the car that flawless, shiny finish.
  • Buffing. Buffing the car evens out the finish and helps blend with the rest of the car.

Painting a car is a meticulous process, and it can take time to do it right. Paint jobs can start in the hundreds of dollars for a small job to several thousand or more, depending on any rust damage or other issues that may need to be resolved before painting or whether you are getting a custom paint job.


Now that you have a better understanding of what a vehicle paint job entails, ask an auto body shop near you for a quote. You may even want to seek multiple quotes to get a better sense of how quickly you can expect it to get done.

When you request a quote, don’t be afraid to ask the auto body shop questions about their paint work, including:

  • What steps do you take when painting, and what’s covered in this quoted price?
  • Will you need to remove any panels on the car, or just mask them with tape or covers?
  • Can you show me previous examples of your work in this price range?

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