What to look for when choosing an auto paint shop

by Tom Zoebelein - Fri, Jul 26, 2013 4:10 PM

Are you looking for a good auto paint shop for your car?

Whether your car’s clear coat is peeling, you have rust spots, your paint just looks a little worse for the wear, or you’re simply tired of the color of paint on your car, you’re going to want to find a shop that fits your specific needs. Well, you’re starting in the right place. An online search can give you much of the information you’ll need in order to make the right decision. Here is what I would recommend that you look for when searching for an auto body paint shop.

  • Prep Work. Any painter will tell you that the outcome of any paint job begins with the prep work. This includes all the tedious work like removing, trim, badges, headlights grille door handles etc. Even the little bits of rubber need to go. Ideally the whole car would be disassembled to get the best paint job, but that is not how most shops do re-sprays

  • Do your research. It pays to do you homework with a shop. Check an online for complaints about the shop on sites like ripoff report.com. The sneaky thing about paint is that it can look awesome when it is first done, and then turn to garbage after a few months to a few years with weather, heat and other factors. If possible try to see if there are any complaints about the longevity of the paint work received from the shop.
  • Quality materials. You know the Poppa John ad that says better ingredients, better pizza? Same thing goes for an auto paint job. Better prep, better paint materials, equals a better paint job. If possible ask your shop what kind of paint they will be using on your car. Make sure they are using a paint like Azko nobel, Sherwin Williams or Dupont. Those are probably the top three manufacturers of auto paint in the world. Also be sure to find out what grade of paint they are using. Just like oil, there are good better and best grades of paint and each manufacturer has their own system. If this is an insurance job, the insurance company may dictate what kind of paint can be used. Double check this with your insurer.
    Qualified technicians. Unfortunately, there are some shops out there that will hire technicians who lack any training or certifications. Those technicians will cut corners in their paint work by neglecting to use the appropriate primer or seam sealer, for instance, or they’ll only tape off the minimum area to be painted, risking overspray. There are many steps involved in painting a car, so there are numerous ways to do it incorrectly. Some problems, like overspray, can be easy to spot after your car is returned to you, but other problems take time to reveal themselves, like rusting due to a technician using the wrong types of materials.
  • Check for positive reviews and recommendations. Check around for positive or negative reviews of the shops you’re interested in from specialized review sites such as autobody-review.com. You can find out online whether the shop is accredited with the Better Business Bureau. Look for testimonials online, as well as from the people you know, like co-workers, friends, and family. If most people are happy with the shop’s work, then that’s a great sign.
  • A clean shop with quality equipment. While a technician’s skill is typically more valuable than a shop’s equipment, it does communicate a lot about a shop if it has quality equipment. Dust and contaminants is the enemy of any paint job. And once the paint is wet and flowing, your car turns into an instant magnet for grit and contamination. If your car has been on the road for a while some of that dirt and grime comes from areas on the car that gets disturbed when the fans are blowing and the gun is flowing in the booth. Top shops have negative pressure downdraft booth and clean their filters all the time. Others, cut big corners in this area because filters and prep work is expensive. A shop with a clean and quality paint booth means that the shop has wisely invested its profits back into the facility, that it wants to stay current with industry technology and practices, and that the shop cares about giving its technicians the tools to get the job done perfectly. And if a shop is clean, it usually means that the staff values the facility and treats it with care. If the techs treat the shop with care, then they will likely do the same with your vehicle.
  • Check for a warranty. Paint jobs can be expensive often topping 4-5,000 for a really top notch whole car paint job. With that kind of cash outlay you should make sure that you are getting a warranty with it. Most of the paint manufacturers offer a warranty on the materials, but even the best materials can get botched up when applied poorly or without the right kind of prep work. Make sure the warranty covers materials and the workmanship.

So there you have it. Follow these guidelines and you should be able to find a shop that can get your car looking even better than it did when it rolled off the assembly line. Its true!