What to Look For in an Automotive Paint Shop

Getting your car repainted can involve a surprising amount of work. Even minor touch-ups can require careful, precision body work, sanding, and painting. So, don’t just trust your car to anyone; look for the signs of a high-quality automotive paint shop.

Things to look for include…


Most shops are required to offer a warranty for the work that they do, often from the manufacturer, and they should have literature about what the warranty covers and what it doesn’t. Ask about the warranty and be sure to get the information: If they won’t provide either, that should be seen as an enormous warning sign.

Are They “Green?”

When you think “body shop” you probably don’t think “environmentally-friendly.” However, many of the best automotive paint systems are “waterborne” meaning they use less chemicals and solvents during the paint process. These state of the art paint systems not only make for superior color matching and quality, they also produce lower emissions and a reduced carbon footprint. Fewer chemicals and emissions are great for your community, and for your family.

An Estimate They’ll Commit to

First, before getting an estimate, be sure to tell them how you’re going to deliver the car; if you’re going to remove anything, if there’s any specific undercoating or topcoat that you want, how far you want the job to go, and so on. Then, they should be able to give you an estimate, preferably on official stationery or a business card, but at the very least a verbal estimate. True, estimates are just that, and there may be problems neither of you know about. But at least you’ll know they’ve got enough faith in their own opinion to stand behind it.

A Tour of the Facility and an Idea of How They Work

You’ll want to take a look at everything, if possible. Check out their work area and paint booth; keep an eye out for any signs of neglect or a general lack of cleanliness, as it can affect your paint job. Ask about what equipment they use, and whether they have any experience painting cars from your manufacturer.

If possible, also get a look at how they prepare cars for painting. Seeing them at work will tell you a lot about how professional they are, and thus how your car will be treated.

References and Examples

Like any business, a good automotive paint shop will have satisfied customers who want to let you know how happy they were with the job that was done, and they should also have examples of their work that you can look over. Be sure, in particular, to look for signs that a paint booth wasn’t used, such as particles in the clear coat or little bumps when you run your hands across it.

A few simple questions can help you find an ideal automotive paint shop for your car, so don’t hesitate to ask. A little time spent is a small price to pay for a gorgeous car to show off.

About the Author

Lee Emmons is a car enthusiast, photographer, and video producer. He works closely with Auto Collision Specialists, a Mercedes-Benz Certified Collision Center in Baltimore with a custom painter in-house.