To paint or not to paint

I have a 1998 Honda Civic with 180,000 miles on it. It runs really great - most of the time. Gets great gas mileage. The only issue I’ve really had is some recurring issues with the exhaust but nothing too major.

I think I take fairly good care of the car - regular oil changes and such.

My problem is that the paint on the roof and hood of the car has badly faded and turned white in some areas (the paint is/was dark green) The sides and rear of the car look great, though.

At this point should I spend the money to have it repainted? Should I count on (or hope for) the engine lasting long enough to make it worth it?

Whether you should invest in a paint job or anything else of a cosmetic nature has a lot to do with the way that the car has been maintained.

In reference to, “I take fairly good care of the car - regular oil changes and such”, there is a HUGE amount of necessary maintenance you may have lumped into the “and such” category, or maybe you have skipped that type of maintenance.

Most importantly, I am referring to two items with very large price tags for their omission:

Timing belt replacement
If I recall correctly, a '98 Honda probably requires that the timing belt be replaced every 5 years or 60k miles–whichever comes first. Failure to replace the timing belt on that schedule puts the engine at high risk of self-destructing when the belt snaps.

Automatic trans fluid changes
If the car has an automatic trans, the fluid needs to be changed on a schedule of every 3 yrs or 30k miles–whichever comes first. When this schedule is not followed, trans failure is pretty much of a sure thing after 120k miles.

If you are up to date with both timing belt and trans fluid changes–and if the rest of the car is in reasonably good condition–then you can splurge a little on some cosmetic work, as long as you are planning on keeping the car for a few years. I would recommend, however, that you not go for a state-of-the-art paint job, as the book value of the car does not warrant that type of expenditure.

I suggest that you wait until Maaco has one of their periodic sales. They do a decent job–or at least decent enough for a 12 year old car–for the price.

My '88 Accord had the same white patches and fading on the top surfaces at 12 years old.

I took it to a Maaco with a good reputation (College Park, MD) and they recommended it be stripped to metal before repainting.
Yes, Maaco can do a cheap job. They can also do it right.
It was pricey, ~$1200 if I remember right, but it still looked good when I sold the car 9 years later.

Get a couple of estimates for the paint work you’re interested, then do the math and decide whether or not it’s worth it to you.

We can’t decide for you.

One hint when getting your car painted. Plan on doing it on a rainy day.

On a rainy day, fewer people show up to get their car painted and there is a lot less dust in the air.   So you generally get a better paint job.

There is also more risk of the paint not drying properly and water getting into the air lines going to the paint gun. My local Maaco refuses to paint cars when it’s raining. I’m sure they know what they are talking about. Of course we normally have far less humidity than Mr. Meehan’s region.

As far as stripping the car to bare metal, I don’t think that’s really necessary. They will have to do a bit more prep work than their standard 220 orbital sander job. What you see is deteriorating clear coat. That crud will need to be removed or at least feathered in to the base coat. If you are game, you can do the prep work yourself and save a bundle. I have a Mustang in my garage that will be ready to go to the paint shop next week. I do all the prep myself, and buy their cheapest base coat/clear coat paint job. I get a discount since they paint 10 or 12 cars for me a year.

You might go to work on the faded areas with some auto cleaner followed up by a polishing wax. Sometimes this restores the finish. When I was in 8th grade in 1954, my dad bought a badly faded maroon 1947 DeSoto coupe as a second car when my mother went back to work. I made some rather uncomplimentary comments about the car and was put to work with rubbing compound, cleaner, and wax. I spent two days on the car, but it really looked pretty good when I got through.

At any rate, on a 13 year old car, you might want to give this a try. Except for your labor and about $20 in supplies, you don’t have anything to lose.