Forum: Advice / Cars & Driving

Paint job for car?
By Reidfidleirmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:06 AM


I know, I should just go get a quote, but not many auto body places around where I live.
BUT I was wondering if anybody here could give me a clue on paint jobs for cars, how much they are, if they are worth it, if you've had experience with it, etc.
I have a 1998 Lexus ES300 for reference. It's dark red. The color is "Ruby" but has a darker tone on the under carriage and bumper area.
The clear coat started failing when I lived in Arizona. Started with rear bumper after what looks like somebody tapped me in a parking lot one day. And I also have a lot of knicks and dings on the hood from rocks and pebbles just from driving around and living in Phoenix. I've tried using a paint pen from the Lexus dealer on them, but it's so hard to keep up, and it doesn't make too much of a difference.
Since I've moved to Massachusetts again, I think the shift in humidity is making the clear coat situation worse, and it's starting to bubble and crack and peel off all over my car.
Now, I love my car, and it's my favorite i've ever owned. Right now it has 182,134 miles on it. It could probably go to 250k or 300k. I've had it 3 years this week. It's been in Arizona all its life until now. In the condition it's in, it's worth about 3800 USD according to KBB. If I painted it, it'd be about 4200.
I don't really care about how much it's worth, because I'm not planning on selling it any time soon (although it would sell better if it looked nicer). Besides, I do miss how it used to look when I first got it. (looked brand new up until a year ago!)
I also don't have extra cash right now, but may have enough in the next few months.

Basically, how much does it cost? Should I do it? I want to, but not sure if it's reasonable or practical to do so.

OH, and I'm also concerned because we'll be heading in to the fall and winter here, and those can be pretty severe in Ma, especially with all the salt and sand they use on the roads, and with the clear coat cracking, will it induce rust if it's not taken care of?
Can I just have them do a clear coat? HM. I'll take some pictures so you guys can see, and help me out. THanks so much!
The car is in great physical shape except for the aesthetics/outside

8 Replies to Paint job for car?

re: Paint job for car?
By kandykanePremium member
On Thu Aug 12, 2010 11:57 AM
You're going to need to call and get a quote from a professional. Prices can vary so much according to your area and the east coast is notorious for having higher prices on everything.

But a car with that many miles on it may not have as much life left as you hope. When you get close to that 200,000 mark, things can start to fail and you might find yourself in a cycle of having to pay for a lot of repairs. I've had that happen with several cars. The condition of the engine, transmission, axles, wheel bearings, etc is far more important that the condition of the paint, IMO. You have to take those things into consideration. It might be more feasible to start saving for another car. I would hate for you to pay for a paint job just to turn around and a couple of months later need that for a fuel pump or something.

re: Paint job for car? (karma: 1)
By Chaconnemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Aug 12, 2010 02:13 PM
Edited by Chaconne (182529) on 2010-08-12 14:16:10 Duh, it's 200K miles, not 200K dollars
It would cost far more than the $400 difference between the present condition and a painted condition.

I recently had what I thought was minor vandalism to my car, a 2009 Camry. Someone had "keyed" the passenger side with a long scratch starting at the front door, through the other door and a bit into the quarter panel (that's what the area behind the back seat door is I found out.

That repair, to one side alone, which was mostly paint and refinishing cost the insurance company $1200. The clear coating adds a lot of cost to the job, both to remove it to paint a new coat and to redo it.

If you are concerned about resale, I'd say forget it. Any car with near 200,000K miles is nearly worthless on the commercial secondary market, even a Lexus. When I bought my Camry, I had a 2002 Toyota Solara, then 6 1/2 years old (Lexus is built by Toyota and there are many shared features, body parts, mechanical stuff etc.) with about 90K miles on it, pristine condition, no major cosmetic problems and I was offered only $4800 for it in trade. I may have gotten more on a private sale, but then I'd be paying insurance on three cars for a while.

Just a few weeks ago, my wifes' Toyota Highlander was tail ended...very minor cosmetic damage. Had my wife been responsible we would just have let it go, but the other party was at fault. That was $650 plus their insurance paid for a rental car for us for over a week.

In major cities, there are some budget painting places. Maaco is probably the most well-known of these. They will paint a whole car for a flat fee (I don't know what that is currently) and when my kids were in college I had the car they drove redone by Maaco simply to extend the rust resistance for a couple of years. Superficially the car looked fine, but the quality is nowhere near a factory paint job or one by a top body shop. It served that purpose, but at 200,000 miles I took that car (a 1980 Celica) and another car I had bought for my other kid, also with over 200K miles, drove them to the junk yard with my wife as the chase car, got $50.00 for the two of them, and we went out and spent the $50.00 for dinner and drinks.

So the bottom line is anything over $400 is a losing proposition, probably worth it only if you intend to keep the car for a long time. Well cared for, a Lexus might last nearly forever, but at what cost?

re: Paint job for car?
By pondflyPremium member
On Thu Aug 12, 2010 02:51 PM
You're looking at a lot of money. The car needs to be sanded down, any imperfections need to be repaired, prep the car and then apply several coats of base coat and then several coats of clear coat. Between every coat the vehicle needs to be sanded and re prepped IF you want good results.
Bumpers take a different type of paint as that has to flex with the bumper and the environmental changes.

Can you do it yourself? Yes, but it takes lots of time, a very clean area and lots of equipment. I've done a couple cars and a couple fire apparatus repairs and have the equipment. Personally I send my cars to the shop rather than do it myself.

If you're concerned about salt and the cracked clear coat, don't worry too much. You need to have all the layers exposed to let the corroding effects work. Here in IL they use salt like it was going out of style. Just keep it clean and make sure you pressure wash under the car and wheel wells often.
re: Paint job for car?
By Reidfidleirmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu Aug 12, 2010 04:18 PM
Yea I've thought about all that you guys have brought up, which is why I was asking the question.
I'm basically in a pickle. I'd love to have my car look nice again. Even though I know it's only a glorified camry (the ES is the Toy camry).
KK- I don't know how much is left of the car. I do know for sure that these can run 250-300K, it's just a really great engine. And of course I'm more concerned about mechanical than cosmetic. So far I haven't had too many things to do on it. The most major repair so far has been the rear struts and replacing a power steering hose.
So far so good.
I do have some big scratches on the car because the paint is very weak. Anything that touches the car scratches it so easy now. So that's another reason why I'm concerned about rust.
I've heard of somebody getting their car painted down in NC for 800. (Not that I'd drive down there to do this!), and it looked quite nice.
Basically if I'm going to sell the car in a year or so, I wouldn't paint it, but if I'm going to keep it another 3-4 years, I want to do it. But at this point the future is very uncertain. I'd rather keep my car than buy another one if I only have eight thousand or less to spend. I'm not going to get anything like my car again with only that much money.

*shrug* THanks for the advice. You can keep it coming
re: Paint job for car? (karma: 1)
By pondflyPremium member
On Thu Aug 12, 2010 05:26 PM
Before you drop too much in paint, make sure you really inspect the car. Check all items that wear and corrode, here are a few to check.
Brake lines, calipers
Timing chain- It's about that time (big $$$)
Any pumps- Water, brake, steering
Make sure all your fluids look clean
Engine- open filler cap and see if there is a milky like substance (water leak)
Trans- Red sweet smelling, not burnt
Brake- Clear or light colored with no sediment
Power steering- might be trans fluid but read your manual
All belts are not shiny, cracked or frayed

If all of these are alright then proceed with getting a paint job. You can save a lot of money if you do some of the prep work yourself (priming, sanding and wet sanding).
Those items are the things that take time and cost money.
The paint job really isn't expensive (about $130 for a gallon of good paint) and that gets reduced before spraying.

You can try for a paint job, they aren't the best but they do pretty good. The prices are reasonable and might be worth looking at. You can also look in your local papers for chain body shops, they try to be competitive in their pricing, but check with the BBB before making any choices.

Getting a paint job really looks good and can bring value to a car, but there is a limit to what you can put in and get out of it at sales time.
re: Paint job for car?
By ShadowLunaCatPremium member
On Thu Aug 12, 2010 05:31 PM
Edited by ShadowLunaCat (106208) on 2010-08-12 17:36:16 edit: the impact that climate can do to cars.
Yeeehoo, Pondfly!!

She pegged Maaco, and I think there's one either in Dedham, or in NOrwood, on Route 1, PLUS she advised about the BBB!

I would certainly go the MAACo route. I'm quite sure they have a service warrantee on their jobs.

Also, if you can, collect all the records that you've kept on that car. It's a good selling point.


EDIT: I don't know how many cars we've had that have just gone to rust due to the climate and conditions. And the salt/sand/snow/water mixture that is the result of cars on New England streets and highways during snow and ice occasions.

Not to be a thread hijacker, but what other states/places/continents have weather that is a potential hazard to cars??

I guess I can already mention a few: hurricanes, tornadoes... there was a car dealership North of Boston... got pegged with golfball size hail. Tremendous dents in the roofs of a LOT of those cars.

Guy said it was as if someone had taken a 6' sledge and had gone to work.

re: Paint job for car?
By pondflyPremium member
On Thu Aug 12, 2010 08:25 PM
Edited by pondfly (218838) on 2010-08-12 20:26:37 Added the PM section
Reis, feel free to PM me if you have any questions on the quotes that you get and I'll help you if you have questions.

Well I'm in IL so we get everything (including hurricanes that come up from the gulf)
Tornadoes- 10 by me this year
Hail- up to baseball size this year (several hail sales this year)
Rain- 8" in less than 6 hours a couple weeks ago
Snow- We dump salt until it feels like a gravel road and add liquid calcium chloride
Freeze thaw cycles are horrible for roads which kills suspensions, rims and tires.

Lastly, our roads are some of the worst in the country (northern IL mostly) which kills cars.
Those of you in Europe feel good about your roads I love driving them whenever I'm there.
re: Paint job for car?
By Reidfidleirmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Fri Aug 13, 2010 01:28 PM
POndfly- great reminders!
I just did the timing belt (first time it was ever replaced I found out! EEP! at 170,000 before our x country trip)
I also had the trans fluid flushed and replaced at the same time.
They did check the water pump while they did timing belt, and I think they said it was fine.
I really appreciate the offer of PM. Thanks!
I believe the only other major thing is that I think there was some mention of a minor fuel leak from a hose (?) or fuel line. ANd I am smelling gas when I start my car more often now. (not every time. here and there.) It doesn't last long. I'll check into that before the winter comes and corrodes the underneath more.
and you're correct, it is trans fluid with power steering on this car- you're good! I believe that was all replaced too. (besides my constantly adding some before the hoses were replaced).
Anywho. Maybe I'll take a jaunt down the street and talk to the body place around the corner today. It's only one. ANd I wouldn't just stop at the first one I see, so don't worry. :)
THanks guys! Gotta love this board.


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