Six Things to Consider Before Painting Your Car

Auto Painting
Tips to help the decisions involved in repainting your car or truck. photo by Matt Wright 2014

 If you're thinking about having your car painted, there are lots of things to consider. The decision to repaint your car or truck should be a serious one, first and foremost due to the expense of it. The following are some things that you should think about before you commit to the job. 

  1. Is your car worth painting? I hate to say it, but there are lot of vehicles out there that aren't really worth the cost of a paint job. It's always a good idea to check on the value of your car or truck before you make the decision. If the paint job will cost as much as 25% of the car's value, you may want to skip it and just keep driving. 
  1. Should I change the color? A color change is a major decision on top of deciding whether or not to repaint at all. Changing the color will make your paint job even more expensive, and there are lots of other things to consider when deciding whether to change your paint color.
  2. What type of paint job should I get? There are lots of choices in terms of a paint job -- color, quality, level of prep -- and they are all important. The thing to remember about auto painting is you almost always get what you pay for. If you find one paint shop that is asking $1500 to paint your car and another that only wants $700, you can be pretty sure you're going to get half the job out of the cheaper shop. This isn't to say that there aren't some deals to be had in the world of auto painting, and sometimes you get really lucky with a great looking cheap paint job. But for the most part, you'll get a subpar finish with the cheapo job. 
  1. What is the difference between a good paint job and a bad one? There are some things that will very obviously result in a bad paint job. A person who doesn't know how to paint well is high on this list. But most professional paint shops will have at least an adequately trained painter in the spray booth. There are also differences in quality of paint systems (the products, including the paint itself, used to do the job) but these differences are usually only noticeable in higher end paint jobs anyway. The real differences are in the prep work. A good paint shop will spend about 10 hours preparing the vehicle for every one hour they spend spraying paint. 
  1. What constitutes a good prep job prior to painting? This is a tough one to answer in 100 words, but lots and lots of sanding and dismantling. A lower end paint shop will simply put paper and masking tape over all of the parts of your vehicle that don't get painted -- things like the black part of your bumper, the tail lights and turn signals, rubber trim. A good shop will remove as many of these things as possible so there is no possibility of a perceivable line between the painted parts and the unpainted parts. Did I mention sanding? Sanding is endless with a good prep job, but well worth it as the paint job will be more beautiful with every hour that is spent smoothing the body underneath. 
  2. Should I paint my car myself? In most cases, the answer to this question is a resounding "No." But there are those of you out there who can handle the job, and a few of you can really rock it. Read about painting your own car and decide for yourself.