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Costs to Repair Damaged Car Paint

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Fixing your car can put a major dent in your finances. While insurance can cover many regular repairs, damaged car paint is in a unique class of its own. Depending on the damage, you might be required to make payments out of pocket, ranging from a few dollars to thousands.

Because of that, you should pay attention to what can influence the cost of damaged car paint. Paint repairs vary based on a number of factors, including the type of car you have and the damage. Before you settle on repairs, make sure you know what’s included in determining the cost.

4 factors that can affect car paint repair costs

While a dollar amount or range can help you determine if you should get paint repairs for your car, it’s not that easy to calculate.

Jake Shuffstall, store manager for the Carolina Auto Body location in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., says so many different factors go into pricing out repairing damaged car paint. “The clear coat is peeling, someone keyed your car or even sun damage,” Shuffstall says. “Maybe the car is old or the paint can be cracking from a previous paint job.”

There are a few things that auto body shops consider when fixing the paint on your car.

  1. The car: It’s no secret that different cars come with different repair costs. And that holds true when it comes to car paint repair jobs. “The price to fix a fender on a sedan like a Toyota Corolla and a truck like a Tundra are completely different,” Shuffstall says. The bigger your car, the more surface area that may need to be repaired.
  2. The color: Like it or not, the color of your car can affect its repair costs. For example, Shuffstall says pearl paint requires an extra step in paint mixing, which can add more to the overall cost.
  3. Previous paint jobs: If you’ve had paint work done on your car before, it might be causing damage to your car. “Some places use tape to cover parts instead of removing them,” Shuffstall says. “This gives dirt and residue a chance to get inside and damage the paint from underneath.” Some mechanics, however, may remove the handles, mirrors and moldings prior to painting to ensure the clear coat is secure. It may cost more money up front but keeps the car from needing extensive paint work in the future.
  4. The damage: A light scratch is vastly different from dents. And where the damage is on the car matters, too. A little scratch could take as little as a couple hours. A big scratch could be half a day. Major damage could keep you out of your car for weeks. Special paint or fixes may mean a higher price tag when it comes time to pay.

Ways to cover the cost of a car paint job

When it comes to paying to fix your car’s paint, you have a few different funding options.


Having car insurance can save you a bundle when you’re getting paint repaired. Some repairs are covered by insurance and regardless of cost, means it’s less money out of pocket for you.

Is this a good option for you? Remember that not all insurances cover paint repair, or the same level of severity, as others. Review your insurance policy or talk to your agent to see what’s covered.

Paying with cash

Paying cash is relatively easy but you may want to check with your auto body shop before deciding if that’s the right way to go.

Shuffstall says that for security purposes, they don’t prefer cash payments. And it makes sense, since debit or credit card payments have a transaction history to prove payment.

Is this a good option for you? Unless you’re in a predicament such as not having a bank, avoid paying with cash. A paper trail is important for both you and the auto body shop.

Credit card

Paying with a credit card is a simple way of getting your repairs completed and paid for without coming up with the money beforehand. In case of an emergency, credit cards are a helpful way to pay when you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it and need access to fast cash.

But make sure you can make timely payments. A 0% interest credit card means you can make charges to your card without interest adding up. If you have extensive paint damage done, the less interest you tack on, the better.

If you have a card without a 0% interest payment, or your sign-up offer has passed, you should still make sure you can afford the minimum monthly payments due on the card. Falling behind on credit card payments can cause your credit score to plummet. If you can’t afford the monthly expense, you may want to skip using a credit card.

Is this a good option for you? Paying with a low-rate credit card is one of the best ways to pay for an emergency, including car repairs. This assumes, however, that you can repay the balance in full before the promotional period ends. If you need a longer repayment period, a personal loan may be an option to consider. Depending on your credit score, you could land a lower rate than you would pay on a credit card.

Personal loan

Taking out a personal loan is a great way to cover the cost of repairs without using your credit card. Credit card interest rates tend to be higher than personal loan interest rates, which could mean you’d be saving much more when you repay your loan.

Not everyone qualifies for personal loans, which could hold you back from getting one to pay for paint repairs. However, if you qualify, compare the interest rate to your credit card’s. If it’s lower, consider taking advantage of the offer. Be mindful that you’ll need to pay back your loan by the end of the repayment period laid out in your terms. If that’s not doable, you may want to consider finding other payment options.

Is this a good option for you? Paying with a personal loan is a good option if you can afford it. Many times, car repairs come up without notice and it can be hard to consider alternative payment options if you don’t have much money. But if you have the time, see if you can take out a personal loan to cover your car paint costs.

Bottom line

Paying for damaged car paint isn’t on anyone’s list of fun things to do. But it could be necessary. If you’re trying to pay for a new paint job — whether it’s a little scratch or a big dent — the expense could be huge.

As you’re researching where to get paint work done for your car, also keep tabs on how you’ll pay for it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the change in your routine, but keeping a level head and making sure you can afford to pay the costs is important.


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