Everything You Wanted to know about
Repainting Your Car but were afraid to Ask!

By Michael Albee – (December 2000)

I’ve had several people recently send me email asking about how much to pay and where to get there cars repainted. Normally I try to shy away from recommending one shop over the other. Instead I tell them to first decide what there budget is, what they want to do and what color or colors they want to do it in.

A good rule of thumb in pricing a repaint project is to figure $125.00 per panel (door, fender, quarter-panel, top, hood, bumper, etc.) and then figure $150.00 per opening if you are going to make a color change. That’s assuming that there is NO body damage, dents or rust. (Dents & rust repair is extra).

The materials will run from $800.00 to $1200.00 depending on the brand and type of paint you use. Acrylic Enamels are cheaper but they will only last about five years or so. Clearcoat colors are more expensive because of the cost of the clear and the added time the shop will have spraying the clear. But a Clearcoat job will last about twice as long. (Sometimes longer).

Most of the time repainting the door, trunk and hood openings, (a.k.a. Jamming the vehicle), is not necessary when repainting. The only time you really need to do it is when you are making a color change. Color changes from a light color to dark, or visa-versa, are never recommended if the old color is going to stay under the new color. But with proper preparation and the use of a tinted sealer it can be done without having to remove all of the old finish. The reason is that chips and scratches tend to show up more.

There is nothing wrong with leaving the old color on the car and painting over it as long as you use a good quality sealer between the old finish and the new finish. Not using a good sealer will allow the old color to bleed through creating a color change (stain) in spots, or hazing (dulling) of the new finish. Not using a sealer will also allow the new finish to dry down and you will see sanding scratches through the new paint. The only way to remove these tiny scratches is to have the car sanded with 1500-2000 grit sand paper and then have it power buffed. ($300.00 to $500.00 dollars).

Most of the time you will have between $2000.00 and $2500.00 in a nice Clearcoat paint job. (That’s just a nice ONE color paint job). You can add BIG bucks if you want a custom job such as flames, stripes, graphics or something else! Shops price that stuff by the hour!

Just remember, you most always get what you pay for. Stay away from those high production shops that can get you in by 8 a.m. on Monday and back out by 5 p.m. on Wednesday …… My experience with these kinds of shop is …… If you are going to sell it RIGHT AWAY, to someone you don’t like, then let them paint it! It will look good for four or five months, but after that …… well, you know!

Many of you may not have lived in you area for very long, and don’t know which shops are good and which are not so good! Here’s a tip …… If you have never delt with a certain body shop, ask them for references. If they can’t, or won’t give you any …… RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!!! Most of the small to medium sized shops will keep photo albums of the stuff they have done. (At least most of us around here did).

Another good way to find out were the good shops are is to go to local car shows or go to where the street rods and other street machines hang out in your area.

When you are looking over the cars, ask some of the local guys where they got their cars painted. Ask them if they liked the work and if they would go back again. Also ask them to “Ball-park” the price they paid. (If you are looking at a 34 Ford 3-window with a $10,000 paint job on it and you only have $2000.00 to spend, you’d be wasting your time going to that shop for an estimate)!

Some guys don’t like to tell you the exact price they paid, but they’ll say: “around X-$$$$”). Other guys are a$$ holes and they will just blow you off, and still other guys will tell you anything you want to know.

Above all, BE REAL when you talk to people! DON”T BULLSHIT them. Most guys can spot that a mile away. If they have a nice car, tell them that you want to get a good job like theirs and that you value their option because they have a great looking car. You will find that if they’ve put in a lot of time and effort into building the car, they will be more that glad to advise you on what shops to go to …. or to stay away from.

You may even luck out and find a guy that does great work and does it at home …… That can save you big bucks …… But watch out! Follow the above advise with him too!!!!!

Editors Note: Michael was an apprentice body man for 3 years at Autocrafter’s Body Shop in Marion, Iowa. While there he worked in the Body Shop, Sandblasting Shop and the Paint Prep Shop. He has also managed the Paint Shop and was the head painter at New Method Truck Equipment in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before opening his own body shop. Both Autocrafter’s and his shop, specialized in Classic, Street Rod and Antique Automobile restoration.

Share This: