A New Coat Of Paint

By Catherine McNulty

January 21, 2011 4 min read

Is your ride looking a little busted? Does it run fine but get mistaken for a jalopy when you're driving it? Do valets hesitate to open your door? It may be time for a new coat of paint.

General wear and tear and exposure to the elements can age the exterior of your automobile prematurely. If your car is in the sun a lot, the paint can fade and crack. Road salt can cause the body of your car to rust. Humidity, temperature extremes, gravel and sand all can contribute to the degradation of your auto's body.

So if your car is looking a bit tired, perk it up with a paint job. Nothing makes a car look fresher than a new coat of paint. But how much should you expect to spend, and how long should it last?

The price of a paint job can run anywhere from about $400 to more than $20,000. If you just want a simple paint job, you'll be looking at the low end of the spectrum. If you want your car to be mistaken for the end product of "Pimp My Ride," you'd better be willing to shell out the Benjamins.

The best option for finding a place to treat your ride right is to look at peer review websites, such as Yelp, and see what other people are saying. Any business that has garnered a handful of reviews will give you a good overview of its prices and services. Also, ask friends and family members for recommendations. Smaller garages may charge a bit more, but the service will be more personalized.

Maaco is a nationwide chain of auto body repair and paint job garages. Because the company does such a high volume of work, its prices are rock-bottom. Simple paint jobs can begin at $299, take about three business days to complete and come with a two-year guarantee. If your car needs any extra bodywork to make the paint application smooth and professional, that will cost you more.

But bottom-of-the-barrel paint prices might not yield the best result for your vehicle. Typically, the lower-priced paint is a high-grade automotive enamel. Though it is less expensive, it could crack and fade more quickly than other types of paint when exposed to environmental pollutants, weather extremes and rough roads. If those are the conditions under which you normally drive, you'll get more bang for your buck if you get a catalyzed enamel paint or a single-stage polyurethane paint with sealer. It will look better longer and stand up to the wear and tear.

If you want a straight-off-the-assembly-line shine, look into a two-coat process. Generally, it consists of a base coat with a high-gloss clear coat on top. This is an excellent choice if you want a metallic finish, and the result will last longer than a paint job done by another method. It will top $1,000.

But what if you don't just want a simple paint job? What if you want your car's coat to reflect your personality? The shows "Pimp My Ride" and "Trick My Truck" have brought customized paint jobs to the mainstream; they are no longer just for actors, rappers and gear heads.

Any sort of custom work will not come cheap, but it should come with a warranty. You are paying for not only the materials but also the skilled labor that needs to apply it. Standard price lists don't apply, as the price is determined by the intensity of the design and the amount of labor it takes to complete it. If you're looking into a customized paint job, make sure you get several quotes from different companies and go with the one you feel most comfortable with.

If money is no object and you want the best, the guys at West Coast Customs can make all of your automotive paint job dreams come true. With a clientele including Sylvester Stallone, Paris Hilton and the Virgin Group, they are used to grand designs and have the expertise to make them happen.

So whether your car just needs to be freshened up or it needs a whole new personality, there are more options and price ranges than ever to achieve it.

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