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Must I paint the entire car?

I’m buying a 1991 Honda Civic EX with minor scratches, except for the hood of the car. It also has what looks like a 2-square-in area above the door handle that has some rust. Can rust be repaired, and can I get just the hood and door painted? Or must I paint the entire car? (I’m trying to spend as little as necessary, but still make the car look good.)

Not that it matters, but I meant 2001 and not 1991.

Take it to a (recommended) body shop for estimate before you buy it. You may be shocked at prices.

Typically paint can be matched however if in poor shape (eg scratches) it will look better in repaired spots than old.

If you want a paint job to look good, you paint the entire car.


Depending on the condition you would not need to paint the entire car nor would you want to. On a 9 year old car it would not be cost effective. You may need to partial paint (blend) adjoining panels depending on the location of the damage. And if there are rock chips and dings those need to be repaired since if they are painted over those will stick out like a sore thumb. All that means more money. If the painting is contingent to you buying the car get an estimate first.

When you are buying 9-10 year old cars, PAINT is the least of your problems. Save your money, you will need it…

If they don’t paint the whole car, the hood won’t match the rest of the car. If you really want to paint the car, not painting the hood won’t save you enough to be worth it, especially when the paint job ages. When it ages, you will notice the difference.

I don’t really get it. You are buying a nine year old car. If you care that much about what it looks like, you should be looking at something newer.

If the car only has minor scratches, and you want to save money, just give it a good wash, polish, and wax.

Thanks for the suggestions. I see your point about not getting it. It happens that the car has less than 60,000 miles on it, and the interior looks brand-spanking new. Most Hondas, much newer, have considerably more miles on them and are priced considerably higher than this one with little mileage. That’s why I’m considering it over a newer model. I really appreciate this forum and getting to see all the feedback. It helps in making a decision.

In my opinion, you are going about the purchase backward. A great mechanic told me years ago in shopping for a used car to put a piece of black tape over the odometer (in those days, rolling back an odometer was common). Evaluate the car, do a test drive and then remove the tape.
I always check the condition of the body first. Paint work is expensive and a rusted undercarriage is impossible. If the scratches on the body are troublesome for you, then I would recommend that you shop further. The body scratches may indicate that the previous owner wasn’t really concerned about the car’s appearance and this may have carried over to his/her maintenance on the car.
This particular Honda may be a good purchase, but have it checked out. It may be due for a new timing belt ($600-$1000), brake work, cooling system flush, etc. that may have been done in a higher mileage vehicle. Budget your purchase accordingly.

Thank you for the suggestions. I have made an appointment to get a used-car evaluation on Monday!

To stop rust it needs to be sanded to the metal and primed before painting.

My suggestion is to sand the rusty area, prime it with a spray can, and check MAACO for their $249 “Presidential Special”. I bought a used car once that had this “presidential Special” performed on it locally and I was really impressed. And it kept it’s good looks for the 4+ years that I owned it. It isn’t a fancy job, but it’s perfect for your purposes. The key is to stay with the original color so the door jams etc. match.

One big thing with that though, is that prep work(sanding, priming, etc) is key on the owner’s part.