How Much Paint Do You Need to Paint a Car?

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Man painting the side of a red car

Many car enthusiasts make the decision to repaint their cars or trucks themselves when doing restoration or repair. Ultimately if you are spending a large sum of money repairing or restoring a vehicle you will most likely want to leave it to professionals for best results. However, if it is a lower budget build or an owner truly wants to do every part of the work themselves than painting a car is feasible for most people. 

A common question though is “how much paint will I need to paint my car”. The answer to that depends on a few different factors such as the size of the car, the painter’s experience level, and whether or not you are painting things like the underside of the hood and wheel wells. 

The largest deciding factor on how much paint you need is the type of car you are painting. 

For very small cars such as a Miata, original Beetle, or Mini Cooper you will most likely only need 2-3 quarts of paint if you are painting efficiently.

Medium to large sized cars will need 3-4 quarts. It is usually best to buy at least a gallon just in case for cars this size. 

Larger trucks and vans will need over a gallon. Likely 4-6 quarts depending on the model as well as if you are painting the bed or underside of the hood. 

For any of these jobs you will most likely need an entire gallon of clear coat to go over the base color layer that you are putting down. Other jobs will require primer to be applied before the color layers so you can see that the necessary materials will vary greatly from job to job. A general safe bet however would be two quarts of primer, one gallon of paint, and one gallon of clear coat for most jobs. It’s possible you will have left over material but that is preferable to coming up short!

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