Should You Repaint Your Car Before Trying to Sell It?

There are many factors that are taken into consideration when it comes to trying to evaluate how much you can sell your vehicle for. Things like age and sometimes mileage can be out of our control, and vehicle history can’t be changed. Besides that, vehicle condition takes a role not only in how valuable your car is but how easy it will be to sell your vehicle for the price you want. When it comes to minor maintenance, it isn’t a bad idea to spend a bit of money to get your car in the best condition possible before trying to sell it, but is it ever a good idea to repaint your car, or portions of your car, before putting it up for sale?

Why would anyone consider repainting their vehicle just to sell it?

Damaged paint on a car that will definitely need to be repainted
Damage to the paintwork | Alexandra Schuler, picture alliance, Getty Images

In newer cars, a fresh, clear coat that isn’t damaged by harmful UV rays and debris looks shiny and new, but in older cars, the paint can become damaged, making the paint look old and worn out. There are some ways to prevent this, such as proper washing techniques and keeping a protective layer on the paint, such as wax, but in itself, keeping up with cosmetic vehicle maintenance can be a time-consuming chore. Besides that, if you bought the car even slightly used, you may already have damaged paint. Depending on how damaged the paint is, whether the clear coat is failing in areas like the hood and roof where the most UV exposure occurs, or it just looks old and faded, there are several options you can choose to make your vehicle look much newer, and repainting the vehicle is just one of them.

Consider paint restoration instead

According to Popular Mechanics, if your paint isn’t that far gone, and you aren’t afraid to put in a little bit of elbow grease, it isn’t a bad idea to pick up a paint restoration kit. While professional paint restoration can cost hundreds — and in more intense cases, over a thousand — an at-home paint restoration kit can save you money and even help you make the most out of the value of your vehicle. A paint restoration kit can help improve swirled paint, but it won’t fix UV damaged clear coat that has begun to fail or fix any rock chips, so this isn’t the best option for everyone.

“A nearly flawless paint job looks great in pictures and in person, and helps justify a top-market asking price”

Bob Sorokanich, Deputy Editor, Popular Mechanics

When is it the right decision to repaint your car before selling it?

There are a lot of factors you should take into consideration if you are debating on whether or not you should repaint your car before putting it up for sale. For one, you want to make sure that you are making the right choice financially. Using resources like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds, you can get a ballpark figure about how much your car is worth. Adjust these settings to see how much of a difference there is between a car in excellent condition rather than a car in OK or good condition. If it seems like there is a big jump in value depending on the cosmetic state of the car, you could get more money back from selling your vehicle if you choose to repaint it.

This isn’t always the case, however, as repainting a car can cost several thousands of dollars. Because this is done prior to listing the vehicle or selling it, that typically means that the cost of repainting the car will have to come out of your pocket, which isn’t a feasible or appealing option to all sellers. Depending on quotes from your local paint shops, it could also take a few weeks to get your vehicle in to be painted and can take several days to complete on top of that, so this isn’t the best option for sellers looking to get rid of their vehicle sooner rather than later.

  • Is your vehicle’s paint damaged to the point that it needs to be repainted, or can a less intrusive paint correction fix the problems?
  • How much is your vehicle worth? Will you make the money you invest in repainting the vehicle back when you sell it?
  • Are you comfortable spending money out of pocket to have the vehicle repainted?
  • How quickly are you hoping to sell your vehicle?

The answer to whether you should repaint your vehicle isn’t black and white, and there are many factors you need to take into consideration to make sure it’s the right decision for you. If you want to break it down into a list of things to focus on, you can make the decision that is right for you.

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