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Summary
  • Some things you should consider before changing car colors include potential regulatory and registration issues, how it could affect your vehicle’s value, and the cost of changing colors.
  • Different ways to change car colors include professional repainting, vinyl wrapping, and plasti dip.
  • It could cost you up to $10,000 to repaint your car.

Changing the color of your car is a big move. While it may seem like a simple choice between getting your vehicle wrapped and repainted, there are a few factors you should consider before jumping the gun.

Things to Consider Before Changing the Color of Your Car

Aside from the cost of wrapping or repainting your vehicle, making a significant change to the look of your car may result in regulatory and registration issues as well as a drop in your vehicle’s resale value.

Potential Regulatory and Registration Issues

Your vehicle’s official registration documents state its color, and in some states, you need to notify the DMV of any color change. It’s not illegal to change colors, but some cities or counties may have stricter regulations than others.

For example, some cities prohibit painting cars with fluorescent colors. As such, it’s ideal to check with city hall or your local DMV about their policies on changing car colors to avoid getting in trouble.

How It Affects a Car’s Value

man planning to change car color
If you decide to change colors, reselling the car might not cover the original expenses.

Repaints will negatively affect a car’s value, especially collectibles and vintages. Repaints are said to reduce value by a minimum of 20%. This means that you may lose money if you sell your car.

In addition, repainting costs a lot of money due to extensive preparation work. If you decide to change colors, reselling the car might not cover the original expenses.

How Much It Costs

Vehicle repainting is expensive because it includes removing certain parts, masking, cleaning, sanding, and dent repair.

The final bill depends on the paint job quality, vehicle size, chosen color, finishes, and more. Don’t be surprised if it costs you more than $10,000 to paint your car.

What Color to Get

There are a lot of potential complications that could fly over your head when it comes to choosing your car’s new color. Some colors look better on different models, but you should also consider safety and convenience.

For example, a study by Monash University states that white cars are 12% less likely to be involved in collisions. It could be due to the vehicle’s visibility during severe driving conditions like poor weather.

The same study also mentioned that black cars were on the opposite end of the safety scale and were more prone to accidents.

Your choice of paint can also make repairs more costly and complicated. It’s harder to buff out scratches on matte paints, so you’ll have to repaint the vehicle even if the damage is minor.

How Long It Takes

Changing the color of your car could take somewhere between two days and several weeks. There are different steps for prep work and repairs, including sanding, filling dents, and repairing scratches.

While the actual painting may not take long, each coat must dry between applications. This process usually involves stripping down the car and adding a layer of primer, applying three to 20 layers of acrylic paint, and finishing it off with two to eight coats of clear coat to protect the paint.

There’s also the DIY route, but that will probably take novice DIYers longer due to the learning curve.

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Ways to Change Car Colors

There are three main ways to change car colors: professional repainting, vinyl wrapping, and plasti dip.

Professional Repainting

Professional repainting is the most common method of changing car colors. Repainting involves stripping the existing paint, preparing the surface, applying primer, and adding a new layer of paint in the desired color.

Pros:

  • Easy to customize the color
  • May be cheaper compared to other methods
  • Quality finish
  • A permanent way to fix scratches, dents, or dings
  • Durable and easy to maintain

Cons:

  • Costly in a vacuum
  • Time-consuming

Cost:

  • Depending on several factors, the cost of a professional repainting job could cost up to $10,000. Expect a base price of $1,000 if you’re not planning anything too extravagant.

Vinyl Wrapping

Vinyl wrapping is a process that involves completely or partially covering a vehicle’s original paint with vinyl wrap. The process starts by fixing scratches and rust, removing mirrors and molding, sticking and stretching the wrap, and cutting the edges to hide the seams.

Pros:

  • Glossy/matte finish
  • Customizable hues, textures, and patterns
  • Takes only a few days to complete
  • Protects the original paint from UV damage, scratches, and environmental damage
  • Can be removed should you decide to restore your vehicle’s factory look

Cons:

  • May not be as durable as a professional repainting job
  • Can be more expensive than painting your car

Cost:

  • On average, it costs somewhere between $60 and $1,500 to wrap the hood, fender, and roof. Materials could cost you somewhere from $300 to $1,500. This doesn’t factor in additional expenses, including tools and other supplies that may be needed to complete the job.

Plasti Dip

Plasti Dip is a rubber-like coating used in different applications, including automobiles. Some owners use them to change car colors by preparing and spraying the surface with plasti dip.

Pros:

  • Easy to remove
  • Protects the paint from UV ray damage, swirls, and debris
  • Can withstand freezing temperatures

Cons:

  • Affected by thinners and solvents
  • May not last long
  • Limited colors

Cost:

  • The average price of professional plasti dip services cost somewhere between $520 and $850. There could also be additional charges for customization options.
About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Car Body , DIY
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