What to know before painting your car

What you need to know:

Understanding what the painting process entails makes it easier to choose whether or not to have your car repainted. Armed with the facts, you can make a more informed decision.

In December 2022, Alfred Agaba’s son rammed into a perimeter wall while learning to drive. Although he did not sustain any injuries, some parts of the car, including the headlights, were damaged. A part of the bonnet not only folded but also lost some of its silver colour.

“At the garage, I was told the bonnet had to be removed, resurfaced and repainted. However, after this was done, the new colour did not match the other parts of the car body. The solution was to repaint the entire car and this cost me Shs850,000,” Agaba says.

What experts say

Dickson Banturaki, a car painter at Vision Glazing in Najjeera, Kampala, says before repainting your car, understand the factors or reasons why you are repainting it in the first place. This is because the procedures undertaken to repaint a car whose paint faded as a result of being parked under the sun for long periods, or due to heat generated by the engine that normally fades the bonnet may differ from one that has been involved in an accident. For a car that has been involved in an accident, you will have to consider the extent of damage.

Also, your car may have been repainted from elsewhere but the job was not done properly. Sometimes, there are bubble-like elements that start developing on the car as a result of shoddy work.

“When your car paint develops bubbles, it means the recommended procedures were not followed before applying the final layer of paint. Normally, professional panel beating is required before repainting the car. If you use panel beating products such as filler from one company, it is advisable not to mix with those from another company just because the prices are attractive. The outcome will be non-uniform colours,” Banturaki advises.

Apart from having non-uniform colours as a result of mixing different panel beating products from different companies, the paint may also not last. On average, car paint lasts three to four years before the need to repaint. If done well, it can stretch to five years. When your car is involved in a crash, it has to undergo rigorous panel beating, which involves taking off some parts of the car such as doors and resurface them smoothly to the required standards.


This primarily depends on the quality of panel beating where materials such as sand paper are used to completely remove the old paint before a new layer is applied. In some vehicles, apart from filler, you have to use fibre that corresponds with the car body and understand where it should be applied.

“Some parts of the car do not require fibre. If it is a car whose body is completely metallic such as the 2004 Jeep, except the bumpers, fibre is only used on the bumpers. There are cars you look at whose bumpers are pale but when the rest of the paint on the car body is still bright. This depends on the painting materials used. When you buy paint from different companies, the final paint on the body that goes on the metallic part may look different from that on the bumper when the final work is complete,” Banturaki explains.

Detergents used

Just as some, if not all detergents are corrosive on your hands while washing, the same impact is realised when you wash your car with detergents overtime. It is advisable to use liquid soap compared to powdery detergents or bar soap. If it is corrosive on hands, it is also corrosive on car paint. The only difference is that the corrosiveness on hands is instant while that on car paint shows after sometime. In the long run, detergents reduce the lifespan of car paint.

Similarly, some cars that have been repainted take approximately 24 hours to dry, while some take a shorter time. The circumstances may also differ; some car paints dry when the car is parked under the sun, while others dry when the car is parked in a shade. Regardless of the circumstances, it is not advisable to use polish or wax immediately after repainting. Give it about a week to apply polish, otherwise, the longevity of the car paint may reduce.    

Cars with mixed colours

Some cars are manufactured with mixed colours, where, for instance, the roof is black and the side is white. The colour that covers up the bigger part of the car is what is captured on the logbook. However, some others are locally customised by choice. If you are to change the colour of your car without it being involved in an accident or its colour fading due to weather effects, it is advisable to apply for change of colour at the Uganda Revenue Authority so that the colour change is adjusted in your logbook.

Types of paint

The first thing you need to decide is what type of paint job you want. There are a lot of choices, such as colour, quality, and level of preparation. Do not be tempted to choose a car repair centre that offers a cheap paint job as you will probably get an inferior finish for your car.

Instead, go to a professional paint shop to make sure an adequately trained painter paints your car. Please take note that a high-quality paint shop will spend 10 hours preparing the vehicle for every one hour they spend spraying paint.

Trained painters at authorised car service centre will remove all parts that should not be painted such as the bumper, tail lights, turn signals, and rubber trim. This is done to avoid any perceivable line between the painted parts and the unpainted parts.