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Repainting My Audi


So the paint on my car is starting to fade on the hood and roof. The clear coat is fading so there are just spots that look super dull in the middle of all the shiny red paint (it does not look good). I don’t have the money to get it professionally painted so I am hoping I can learn how and practice over the next few months and make it a summer project. The question I am here to ask is, if I am making a color change from one type of red to another, do I need to take off all of the paint or can I just sand it down? Also would it make sense to take it to a shop to have it sanded down if I don’t have the tools? I am also up to some general tips for taking on this project and thanks in advance for the feedback.

If you’re short on money you need to do all the prep work, like sanding. That takes a lot of time, but a lot less technique than painting.


It might be a good idea to spend some time searching YouTube for vehicle painting. It will take several different search wording but they are there.

Edit: I put ( Repainting a car ) in Google and found all sorts of videos.


You may be able to sand the paint to get it ready, Most parts stores have the sand paper and other tools you might need. Could possibly get a better deal from a hardware store as well. With some trial and error i’ve managed to do a decent job but you could find out that it was better to go down to bare metal and then primer. Gone down that road and had to start over. Luckily I was only painting a scale model car.

If it’s just the clear coat that’s bad you might be able to lightly sand it down a little, then use a clear spray paint (may take a couple coats) worth trying before going down the road of changing the color. I’ve tried this brand before with good results.
rustoleum (2)

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No you don’t have to take all the paint off, but stop at the book store and get a book on body work and painting first to get an idea of what is required. In 1966 I had my Morris Minor painted for $20 after I did all the sanding, prep work, and masking. All they had to do was spray it. Don’t even consider painting it yourself if you don’t have experience or the equipment. Or you can just run it through MAACO or someone and get a cheap job.

Lots of stuff on youtube also for background. Jon Kosmosky has some and he is one of the best.


I would not recommend a color change. To do it properly you’ll need to dissemble the vehicle otherwise door-jams, inside door panels, under hood will be a different color. It really won’t look good.


I will support other posters here that you need to learn from YouTube (at the least) and to have practice before you attempt repainting your car.
The idea from @wolyrobb is probably the best first shot at it, but you need to make sure you are extremely careful with your sand-paper: get something like 600 or 1000 grit, make sure you do wet-sanding and make sure you completely remove any silicone BEFORE you start sanding.
If you are lucky and careful, it may be a cheap fix with decent results for next 2-3 years.

I just remembered something someone suggested from another thread like this. That person said to buy the cheapest car part like a damaged hood or trunk lid from a salvage to practice on.


Painting is quite expensive for some VERY good reasons. Quality paint is expensive. That Rustoleum from previous post is not automotive grade clear. It may work OK but it won’t hold up as well as better products.

Those better products should not be sprayed without a good charcoal canister respirator. It can destroy your lungs. They should also be sprayed in a spray booth. Keeps the bugs and dust off the paint, collects the overspray, provides the proper lighting and protects the environment.

As an earlier poster said, it is cheaper and easier NOT to change color. HUGE amount more work!

No you don’t have to sand off ALL the old paint to change color or even paint the car. In fact, you do not want to do that unless the paint is cracked all the way to the primer. The old paint can be a base for new. But the car must be primed, sealed and then paint is applied and the clear is applied. An A4 will take a gallon of primer, 1/2 gallon of sealer, a gallon of paint and another gallon of clear. Red is the MOST expensive color. You’ll need lots of sandpaper and sanding blocks. So you will have $6-800 just in materials alone.

And the car must be smooth. Really smooth, before paint is applied. If you can see it, or even feel it, it will stand out and haunt you like a rotting corpse. You’ll see it every time you are near the car. Any sand-thrus to bare metal will need primer ASAP so they don’t rust. Any rust you find will need repair. Any dings or dents you find will need filler and sanding smooth. This will take you hours and hours and hours to get right.

I post this because I’ve personally prepped and had a shop paint my first 3 cars. All with color changes. I’ve touched up several cars since then. Sprayed partial or full panels myself with my own equipment. The equipment to do this is another thousand bucks.

Maaco makes a business of doing quick and cheap paint jobs on cars. Not sure what their rates are these days. $1800 or so, maybe to spray a car. If you do good prep, they can provide a decent paint job. Won’t be show quality. Heck, won’t be as good as the manufacturer’s paint. But it will be shiny again.


I agree with MikeinNH. Changing the color shade is going to be a problem for the reason mentioned unless you are prepared to deal with door jams, underhood, etc from the start.

Mustangman is also correct about getting the area smooth. What you think is glass smooth may look like a moonscape when paint is applied.
There are also issues to deal with such as orange peeling, blushing, fish eyes, and so on.

As for the money part of it. even DIY is going to cost WAY more than you think it will. You will be shocked at how much once the tally starts. Sandpaper, paint, reducer, hardener, fish eye eliminator, glazing putty, etc is going to add up quickly not to mention the actual painting equipment.


I have done some painting a car in the past. It made a paint jobs that looked bad at 100’ away to a paint job that looked bad at 20’ away. If you have more experience then I’m sure you can do a better job then I did. What I learned is it takes a lot of skill to do. it right. Any home project without a compressor and a good paint booth is iffy at best. I know I don’t have the skills to do a good job. And I don’t have the time or patience to get the skills.

Personally - I’d do all the prep work (which is the most labor part)…then take it to a place like Maco and have them put one of their $400 paint jobs on it. It won’t be anywhere near perfect…but far better then anything I can do - even with proper equipment.

Thanks for all the help. I think I am going to plasti dip since it is much cheaper and if I mess up too bad I can always peel it off. I’m getting a whole kit with a spray gun, masking equipment for under 600. I have seen people with no experience make them look really good so I am going to watch lots of YouTube videos and practice on a small part first to make sure I get the hang of it.

I recall I went to check my local Maaco “repaint your car” prices, just for laughs, and it was something like $300 for the base package ?!?
I bet the quality is pretty much inline with that price.
Few years back, I bought 10-years old beater from my coworker as a first vehicle for my child, the front was painted in that Maaco, clear de-laminated within 1.5-2 years.

Last time I bought red car paint, a gallon was more than that. It was $400 and that was 25 years ago or so.

If you are going with a $300 paint job, you’d probably be better off paining it yourself with a case of spray cans.

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exactly my point!

good material is costly, bad material gives … predictable… results :frowning:

the car I bought was $1200 (with Maaco “super-paint”) and was sold for $1000 after 2.5 years of service it gave us… one of these “evermobiles” :slight_smile:

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Yup! Probably not much better than the old Earl Scheib cheapo paint jobs.
Earl Scheib’s nickname was “Earl Slob”.


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back to @jacobmhackworth original question

if his clear becomes unsightly, but not yet delaminated, it may still qualify for an attempt of light clear coat sanding and rattle-can fix, which will probably hold for 2-3 years, no more - it may be enough until the next car

if that attempt fails, plasti-dip is not a bad idea to entertain since it is not permanent and may be reapplied on the panels where he will make beginner’s mistakes

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Just some food for thought here on a potential problem area. What is the model, year, and mileage of this Audi?

A shiny Audi sitting there with a broken timing belt is not going to impress anyone. Maybe a revamp of priorities?

Just get it wrapped and forget the paint.

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I was going to suggest that, until I looked up the pricing. Can be more expensive than a cheap paint job, depending on how much of the car is done and if any fancy wrappings are chosen. Regardless, the existing paint still has to be in good shape to ensure the wrap sticks.

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