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Should I Paint My Car

Hi, I have a 2004 Toyota RAV4 which has to have its front bumper replaced. The Toyota dealership, the insurance company, and the Body Shop also tell me the front part of the car must be repainted to match the bumper. The cost of this repair will be covered by my insurance less a $500 deductible. Should I have the remainder of the car repainted at my own expense? The RAV is in excellent shape (other than the damaged front bumper) with the usual scratches and surface damage from 5 years of wear and tear. The car is paid for and I plan to drive it for at least another 50k or 5 years.

This is the first new vehicle I ever purchased (foolish I know but wanted the experience once in my life). So the part of me that is attached to it would like to see it in sparkling condition when it returns from the body shop. The frugal part of me wonders if it is worth it from a resale perspective to have the entire thing repainted (not just the front 1/3).

The only reason I would get another car in 5 years or so is to take advantage of greener technology - better gas mileage or a hybrid vehicle.

Thanks, Lisa

You definitely won’t get the money back on resale, so don’t do it for that reason. In fact, the paint work might cause people to wonder if the accident was even more severe than it really was.

As for having the car in sparkling condition, only you can decide if it’s worth it. (That money invested for five years would make a nice chunk of change toward your next car.) I’m afraid I need to point out that maybe it won’t stay in sparkling condition that long anyway, as it sounds like you’re not terribly careful with the car to have ended up with that many scratches in the first place.

Nowadays, if you find a very good body shop, they can match paint color so well that you will not notice a difference from the “old” paint to the new paint. So, if you are thinking of a total respray of the car, this is not really necessary unless the undamaged part of the car has paint that is in really bad condition.

However, one of your comments, “the usual scratches and surface damage from 5 years of wear and tear”, makes me wonder about how careful you are regarding where and how you park your car in parking lots and how diligent you are with washing and waxing the car. My car will be 8 years old in December, and many people believe that it is only 1 year old or less, due to the great condition of the paint.

If you are someone who insists on grabbing the closest parking space to a store, and as a result your car frequently suffers shopping cart dings and damage from the doors of other cars, you might want to rethink that strategy. I intentionally park as far as possible from other vehicles in a parking lot. This accomplishes two things–it gives me a bit more exercise, and it prevents damage to the car’s body.

In order to get a really good quality respray on the rest of the vehicle, you can expect to pay…probably about $1,500. And, after spending this money, if your car again incurs “the usual scratches and surface damage”, was that money well-spent? Only you know if it is worth it to spend this amount of money.

If your current paint looks ok, no way would I repaint. Unless you spend BIG $$ the repaint will not be near the quality of the original paint.

Instead, spend a tiny fraction of that amount and either wash and wax it yourself or has a good shop do it for you (by hand). Just don’t wax the new bumper until the paint’s fully cured.

I had the rear bumper of my 04 Accord repainted after a minor accident. I was worried that the paint wouldn’t match but after it was done it looks better than the original. Take yours to a good body shop and have them paint only the bumper.

Make mine another vote for having only what’s necessary repaited. Automotive paint technology has come a long way since the old days. Good shops now can mix the paints from a spectral scan and get far better matches than used to be possible.

Since you plan to keep the vehicle indefinitely, save the new overspray for another ten years and then have everthing prettyed up. At that point you can get a MAACO “executive special” which currently goes for $279 and is great for old beaters…which yours will be in another ten years.

I cannot believe that an insurance company would willingly cough up the cash to paint the remainder of the vehicle front if it is not damaged “beyond normal wear and tear”. I mean this is truly amazing! Especially in light of the fact it is being done because the auto body shop cannot color match the replacement bumper. It’s bad enough they don’t have the skill to do the color match but how does their solution work out any better? You think a bumper to fender mismatch is bad, wait until you see the flat side of the car from fender to door mismatched. It boggles the mind…

I am careful about parking. And, never take the “fat people” spots near the door since I am an avid cyclist/fitness type. But I have had some malicious damage done to the car. And nicks/scratches from gravel and from a tree branch that fell from the tree over my driveway. I also had someone who obviously backed in to an adjacent parking spot cock-eyed and left a scrape along one side. No matter where you park in a crowded suburban/urban setting, which is where I live, there are always people parked around you.

I’ve been very careful with my car but have also had the normal dings/scratches from flying gravel (off dump trucks), a scrape from a branch that fell from a tree over my driveway, and some malicious damage done when parked in a public city lot. Also some damage from someone parking too close to me in an adjacent parking spot. I live in a suburban/urban setting and these things happen. FYI - The fender bender that mushed the bumper happened at a rolling speed so no other damage was done to the auto.

Thanks for info and advice. Probably won’t have back 2/3 repainted but trying to get some informed decisions before making the final call. FYI - insurance company only pays for bumper replacement and front 1/3 repainted which is standard procedure when replacing a bumper (according to Toyota dealership, Insurance company, and 2 body shops).

Need to clarify “usual scratches and surface damage” as minor nick from gravel out of dump truck, upper scratch from falling branch, malicious scratch looks like it was done with a key, side scrape from someone parking cock-eyed in adjacent spot (scrape is on door panel bump out). I live in a high-traffic urban/suburban setting so there is almost nowhere you can park where you are not surrounded by other cars. FYI - Mushed fender happened at very slow roll so no other damage to car or frame, the tap was just enough to buckle the bumper inward. Other than these minor things car is in excellent shape - inside and out since I am a neat nick.

Be aware that my '79 Toyota pickup lasted almost 11 years until frame rot got it and my '89 lasted 19 years (338,000 miles) until it got totalled by an errant Hyundae.

Expect to have this vehicle for a very long time or until your needs change. Save the overall paint job.

I know of no insurance companies who would paint the front of a car for a bumper cover and in a former job I have dealt with hundreds fo different insurance companies. Did they tell you this themselves or did the appraiser say this? Some of the smaller ins comp will hire independent appraisers who don’t know much and if a b/shop tells them they need to paint the front then they will ok it simply for lack of knowledge and experience.
They dealer and the shop says to paint because they want more than a bumper job. Bumper jobs don’t pay (profit) much so if they upsell at the ins comp expense they can make a buck. The best profit margin in a b/shop is a job between $1500-$3500.

After they are done the bumper cover and the fenders might not match anyway. Often they do not match on a brand new car. This is because the covers and body are separate and painted in 2 different areas using 2 different systems. Also the solvent in the paint evaporates at different rates on the metal fenders and plastic covers so that a difference is noticed in the color. A good shop can paint to match, an average shop will spray and pray.

I would have them paint the front cover only.

Insurance company is very large. Dealership doesn’t do body work but they recommended repainting front part of car as well as bumper; I am not taking it to the shop they recommended. Instead taking it to a highly rated body shop in my area, which also happens to be recommended by insurance company, will see what body shop says re: paint only bumper. Decided not to paint back 2/3 of car based on advice given during this discussion.