How Much Does It Cost To Fix Car Paint?

The cost of the car paint repair mainly depends on the severity of the damage. It can cost anywhere from $10 – $9,000. For each type of damage there is a different repair method and as a result the price can differ.  Although it is pretty difficult to give an estimate without seeing the damage, in this post I want to give you a rough idea of how much you can be in for.

Car finish has  4 layers: clear coat, paint, primer, and metal. Metal is covered with 2-3 coats of primer that protects it from rusting. Then you have 3-4 layers of paint and on top of the paint you have 2-3 layers of clear coat that protects paint from environmental contaminants and scratches.  Typically, the cost will be determine by size, severity and the location of the scratch. If there is a deep scratch that goes across the door, the body shop might have to repaint the whole panel.

Of course you have the option of  taking your car to the body shop or you fixing it yourself. Therefore, I am including body shop price and DIY price. You will also find a list of products needed and a short summary of the repair process.

1. Scuff Marks and Residue

Scuff marks might look like scratches, but in reality are just sitting on top of the  clear coat. Very easy to remove. All you need to do is wash your car, spray it with adhesive remover  and rub the spot with clean microfiber cloth. After you are done, re-apply wax. Here is a step-by-step tutorial.

Auto Body Shop Cost: If you go to the auto shop they might charge you anywhere from $50-$70 for removing it.

DIY Cost: $10. This project should take you only a few minutes. The only product you will need to buy is a 3M Adhesive Tar & Wax Remover ($10).

2. Clear Coat Scratches

Clear coat scratches are very easy to fix. No painting is needed. Light clear coat scratches can be easily fixed with some good quality rubbing compound. You will need to wash your car first. Next, apply some clear coat safe rubbing compound on the microfiber cloth and rub the scratch until it is gone. I do recommend following it some polish to restore the shine, but this step is optional. Then apply a polisher the same way.

Deep clear coat scratches can be removed by sanding the area with wet/dry 2,000 grit sandpaper ($10). Wet sanding works the best. Soak sandpaper in cold water for 10 min. Spray the area with water. Gently sand the scratch washing off sandpaper after 3-4 sweeps. Follow it with rubbing compound ($10) to get rid of sand scratches and a polisher ($10) to restore the shine. As a final step, re-apply the wax. Here is a detailed tutorial on how to fix clear coat scratches.

Note: If you can’t tell how deep the clear coat scratch is, start by using rubbing compound and if that doesn’t work, try sanding.

Auto Body Shop Cost: $150 – $300. Body shop doesn’t care how deep that clear coat scratch is. They will charge you the full price. Keep in mind, this repair doesn’t even include any paint touch up.

DIY Cost: $20 – $30. The whole project will take you about 10-20 min. Products you will need to buy are: 3M 2,000 grit sandpaper ($10), Meguiar’s Rubbing Compound ($10), and Meguiar’s Polish ($10).

3. Paint Scratches

If paint layers were damaged, you will need to do some paint touch up. For small scratches or chips a touch up pen ($15) is all you need. For a damage larger than a pencil eraser, use touch up bottle with a brush ($15). If the area is bigger than a dime, use spray paint ($20).

A typical repair process to fix a deep scratch would involve sanding, priming, touch up paint application, clear coat application, surface compounding, and surface polishing. Here is a video tutorial.

Auto Body Shop Cost: $400 – $1,000. Once there is painting needed, body shop will make sure to charge you hundreds of dollars even for a small repair.

DIY Cost: $50 – $65. This project can take anywhere from 10 min to touch up a small chip to a few hours for larger repair. Products you will need are:  pack of sandpaper ($5), primer ($5-$8),  touch up paint ($15-$20),  clear coat ($5-$8), Meguiar’s Rubbing Compound ($10), and Meguiar’s Polish ($10).

4. Very Deep Scratches and Dents

To repair dents or deep scratches that have damaged the metal, you will need to use body filler ($20) and spot putty ($4). The repair will involved sanding the damage, body filler application, sanding body filler, spot putty application, sanding spot putty, primer application, sanding primer, paint application, clear coat application, surface compounding, and surface polishing.

This is just a quick summary of steps you’ll need to complete the project. Here is a detailed step-by-step VIDEO tutotial.

Auto Body Shop Cost: $800 – $1,500. Every time there is a metal damage, the price will go up.

DIY Cost: $75 – $90. This is a weekend type of project. You will probably need a few days for all the layers to dry. Products you will need are:  body filler ($20), spot putty ($4), pack of sandpaper ($5), primer ($5-$8),  touch up paint ($15-$20),  clear coat ($5-$8), Meguiar’s Rubbing Compound ($10), and Meguiar’s Polish ($10).

5. Bird Droppings and Tree Sap Damage

Keep in mind the severity of the damage will depend on how long the sap or poop was sitting there. The longer it stays on the surface, the more it eats through the paint. In addition, if there are many spots on the panel, touching them up might make your car look like leopard. In this case it could be better to repaint the whole panel. Check out my article on how to remove tree sap and bird droppings.

Auto Body Shop Cost: $800 – $1,500.

DIY Cost: $50 – $65. Products you will need are:  pack of sandpaper ($5), primer ($5-$8),  touch up paint ($15-$20),  clear coat ($5-$8), Meguiar’s Rubbing Compound ($10), and Meguiar’s Polish ($10).

6. Sun Damage

If you never wax your car, after a while the clear coat will wear off and the paint will be exposed to damaging UV rays resulting in fading paint and oxidation. There might be a chance to restore the paint if it is in a decent condition. If there is not enough good paint left, the car will probably need to be completely re-painted.

Auto Body Shop Cost: $3,000 – $9,000. The price here really depends on what kind of car you have and the body shop you go to. Body shops are very competitive, but don’t forget you get what you’ve paid for. $3K is the lowest price you can find at a decent body shop. I’ve seen some body shops like MAACO offering to repaint the car for $500 but you can’t expect quality for that kind of money.

DIY Cost: It is possible to do it yourself, but I think it is better to find a professional for this one.

Let me know if you have any questions.

~Mike Davis

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1 thought on “How Much Does It Cost To Fix Car Paint?”

  1. Excellent article it is good to know both the prices and the materials included I fixed a car like this about a year ago it doesn’t cost a lot of money but it sure costs a person a lot of time and you need the right weather conditions.

    The only thing is with materials you left out a lot you need paper tape, sanding paper, sanding pads, grinding pads, Rotary Tool pads. You will not touch a rust spot with the right color paint under 100 bucks worth of stuff and even more costly if you don’t have the tools.

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