How I Saved $450+ On Getting My Car Painted

car painted

Car Leprosy?

A few months ago I noticed the paint on the roof of my car was fading a little bit.  I found this to be a bit odd because my car is not that old (2007), but I also never use wax on my car so I figured that’s probably what happens when you don’t wax your car.

The “fading” started growing slowly until it got to a point that I had to do something about it.  If I ever want to sell my car I don’t want it to look as if it spent too much time in the sun and now its skin is peeling.

I couldn’t allow the car leprosy to continue so I decided to go to auto body shops and get quotes on getting the roof of the car painted.  I stopped at a body shop on my way to work and the technician there said he would paint it for $450 – my job now was to find someone who can paint my car for less.

Things Started Falling Into Place

I went to work ready to ask my co-workers if they knew of any good auto body shops where I can get my car painted.

Luckily, the first person I saw was my friend Brian.  I say luckily because Brian goes to my lab about once every other month – if that.  Brian and I work on different floors and he only stopped by my lab to pick up equipment that somebody else happened to leave in my lab.  He was actually doing somebody else a favor.  Seeing Brian was the first thing that went my way.

I explained to Brian the situation with my car’s paint and asked him if he knew of a good, inexpensive, auto body shop.  He looked a bit puzzled and asked how old my car was to which I replied it was from 2007.  Brian said, “That shouldn’t be happening to your car.  Maybe they used a bad batch of paint.  Why don’t you check if there’s a recall on the paint because something similar happened to my car a few years back.”  I didn’t even think of that, but sure I’ll do some google-ing.

I looked it up and sure enough there was a recall and an extension of the paint warranty to seven years.

The recall letter, which I never received, explained the issue with the paint and how only some cars were included in this recall.  I called the number on the letter and the representative ran my VIN and confirmed that my car was one of the affected cars, but that I needed to bring it to a dealership for inspection.

I called the dealership closest to my work and the earliest they could see my car was in August.  At first I figured I’m going on vacation soon (on July 4th and this happened July 1st) so August is not so bad, but then I decided to call a different dealership.  Calling the other dealership was the second thing that went my way.

The new dealership said I could come in anytime so they can take pictures and assess if my paint problem was related to the recall.  I went to the dealership the next day (July 2nd) and they confirmed that it was related to the recall, but there was a slight problem.  I bought my car on July 4th 2007, the paint warranty was extended for seven years so it expired on July 4th 2014… in two days!!!

The technician explained that I was not the first in line so the warranty was probably going to expire before they could get to it, but he was going to speak to his manager to see what they could do.  The manager said they were going to put in my work order right away and put me in front of the line so I can get my car painted for free.  Not only were they going to paint my roof for free, but they were also going to paint the hood of the car, the right front fender, and the left front fender… but I had to bring the car in on Monday, July 7th.

July 7th? Crap, I’m going on vacation July 4th.

I told them sure I’ll bring it in on Monday even though I didn’t know how I was going to get the car there.  I then thought of my friend Tim.  He lives not too far from the dealership so I asked him if he could drop off the car for me and I would pick it up when I returned and he said, “sure.”

I went on vacation a happy camper and returned to a freshly painted car.  And I noticed they painted the trunk as well!  The only parts that didn’t get painted were the doors and the bumpers, but oh well, I’ll take it.

Luck, Karma, Fate?

So you see, a lot of things went my way at the right time for this to happen.  If I didn’t decide that it was the right time to paint my car, if Brian wasn’t in my lab to tell me about the recall, if I didn’t call the second dealership, if I didn’t bring my car to the dealership the next day to get it checked, and if Tim didn’t live within walking distance from the dealership, I wouldn’t have my car painted for free.

The crazy thing is that just recently Natalie at Financegirl wrote about a similar experience where she needed to fix her car, did a Google search and found a recall on her issue and it saved her $4,000.  From now on, any car issues that I have I will first check if there is a recall for it… maybe I’ll be able to save a bit more money.

Have you ever saved money by looking into recalls of cars, car parts, or other large purchases? 


  1. Lauren says:

    Wow, good thing you ran into your coworker before you spent the $450! I never would have though to check on recalls- what a great tip.
    Lauren recently posted…When Freelance isn’t FulfillingMy Profile

  2. That was luck there for sure. I always check around to see if something had a recall, especially on a newer car. It doesn’t hurt to check and it can really save some good money.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted…How One Simple Excel Mistake Cost Me $10,000My Profile

  3. debster says:

    Wow! Talk about good timing, Aldo! So happy for you that it all worked out. I love good news stories like this. Hope you had a good holiday too!
    debster recently posted…Money Lessons in Marine LifeMy Profile

  4. Will says:

    That’s awesome! I hope you got your friend a gift for his suggestion!

  5. Will says:

    And it’s best to check these things ASAP. One time my friend broke a recalled ball joint in a parking lot. Even though it was recalled he still had to pay the expensive tow. Front ball joint breaks = car falls on its face. It’s funny looking/terrible.
    Will recently posted…How I Doubled My Car’s Fuel EconomyMy Profile

  6. Thank goodness you made it just in time! It is amazing how many warranty issues happen and we have no idea about them. I had a similar issue with my car where it was giving me problems, I took it in and fortunately the problem (which would have cost over $1,000 to fix) was a warranty issue, so I didn’t have to pay.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Sleeping with the BossMy Profile

  7. My husband’s Prius broke down one day when we were on our way out of town. Thankfully, we had it towed to a dealership where they let us know there was a recall and fixed the faulty part. I was worried it would end up costing a fortune!
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…I Heart Baby Veg: An Ode to GardeningMy Profile

  8. Vin says:

    It is a good thing that you found about the paint issue, most people won’t even know that it was associated with a recall. It was way too early for a 2007 to loose paint. Good thing you got that baby painted by the dealer!
    Vin recently posted…No Fault Accident Who Pays, When an Accident is not Your FaultMy Profile

  9. bryan flake says:

    That is crazy that you saved $450 getting your car painted. Isn’t car paint a long and expensive process? I think that is why my parents never paint any of their cars when they get dings and scratches in them.

  10. Hazel Owens says:

    That’s pretty great that you were able to find out your car was covered by the recall. Warranties always seem to expire right before your vehicle or appliance breaks down, don’t they? I’m glad that everything was able to work out so that your car was able to get repainted in time. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Abélia says:

    Like you, I find that the paint on the roof of my car is fading as well. But my car is older so I think that it’s normal that this is happening. It’s good to know about the process of getting your car re-painted. I’ll look into the paint warranty of my car, like you suggested. Thanks for sharing!