Is paint covered under warranty?

It depends on your warranty and the cause of damage

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    Your car’s paint job protects your vehicle and maintains its appearance. But exposure to the sun, road debris and other factors can ruin it over time.

    When you need to fix your car’s paint, you might wonder, “Is paint covered under an auto warranty?” Generally not — but it really depends on the warranty type you choose and what caused the damage.

    Key insights

    Factory warranties may cover paint damage caused by manufacturing defects but not damage from accidents, wear and tear or environmental factors.

    Jump to insight

    Many car dealerships offer add-on paint protection plans but always read the fine print to understand coverage limits.

    Jump to insight

    Extended warranty providers don’t cover cosmetic damage like paint chips or fading, but there are other ways you can preserve your car’s paint, like installing paint protection film (PPF).

    Jump to insight

    Fixing paint damage can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars — depending on the severity, color and vehicle.

    Jump to insight

    Paint warranty coverage

    Most warranties won’t cover paint damage. They’re designed to protect your car’s mechanical and electrical systems when issues arise without a clear cause. The only exception to this is manufacturing defects. Your factory warranty may cover paint if an improper application or faulty materials cause damage.

    Keep in mind that external factors, like collisions, vandalism or environmental conditions, don’t fall under standard warranty coverage. In these cases, you’d rely on your car insurance to address the damage or purchase a separate paint protection plan to keep your car’s exterior pristine.

    To recap, here are scenarios where paint may or may not be covered under warranty:

    Possibly covered

    • Manufacturing defects for up to a certain number of months or miles

    Not covered

    • Damage from collisions
    • Damage from environmental factors
    • Damage from vandalism

    » LEARN: What does a car warranty cover?

    What types of warranties cover paint?

    You have a few options for warranties that might cover paint issues.

    First up is the factory warranty, which comes with bumper-to-bumper coverage. This may cover factory defects like mismatched body panel colors on a new car, but as we said, it won’t cover paint damage from accidents or wear and tear. (Your factory warranty also includes powertrain and corrosion warranties. These don’t usually cover paint damage unless it’s directly related to the parts being repaired.)

    You can also get an extended warranty from a third-party provider or car dealership to supplement your factory warranty. Some protection plans might cover paint in specific situations, but others won’t. A reviewer from Maryland learned this the hard way: “Nissan informed me that the paint warranty on its cars is three years and my extended warranty is not covering paint.” To get the most out of add-on protection programs, read the fine print and ask what’s covered before you sign anything.

    Author’s note: When I bought my first BMW, the finance manager sold me a paint protection plan without clearly explaining that it only covered preventative measures — not actual damage. Just two weeks after buying the car, I got a chip, and the dealership initially refused to fix it. I expressed my disappointment online, and only then did they make an “exception.” This is one example of why understanding what your paint protection plan covers — and being ready to advocate for yourself — is so important.

    Lastly, your car insurance policy can help with paint damage in certain situations. Collision insurance covers damage from accidents, while comprehensive insurance covers damage from things like falling objects, hail or vandalism. These policies can help protect your car’s paint job if something unexpected happens.

    » MORE: Car warranty guide: what you need to know

    Does your extended warranty cover paint?

    When you buy an extended warranty for your car, you might think (or hope) it covers everything. But that’s not true — especially when it comes to your car’s paint.

    Extended warranties don’t cover paint damage, like scratches, chips or fading, because these are cosmetic issues. Instead, they cover mechanical or electrical problems your manufacturer’s warranty doesn’t cover.

    If you want to protect your car’s paint, here are some measures you can take:

    • Have paint protection film (PPF) installed on your car. This is a clear, thin film that prevents scratches and chips. Many dealerships offer this as an add-on, but you may find it cheaper and better to use an independent installer.
    • Get a ceramic coating every three to five years. This prevents oxidation and keeps the paint from dulling over time.
    • Park in a garage or a covered carport to protect your car from the elements.
    • Use touch-up paint if your car gets a small scratch or chip. This stops further damage.
    • Wash and wax your car regularly. This protects the paint from bird droppings or debris damage.

    How much does it cost to fix your paint?

    As you might guess, the cost to fix your car’s paint varies depending on a few factors, including:

    • How bad the damage is: Deep scratches or peeling paint cost more to fix than small scratches or chips.
    • Where the damage is: Dings, scuffs or dents on a door panel might be cheaper to fix than a scratch on a curved bumper.
    • The color of your car’s paint: Special colors or paints with unique finishes cost more because they’re not as common.
    • The type of car you have: Some auto body shops charge more for paint jobs on higher-end cars.

    Let’s say you need a basic whole car respray. This often involves sanding down the existing paint, fixing any dents or scratches and putting on a new coat of paint. This process costs between $1,000 and $3,000 on average. Your factory warranty might pay for it up to a certain number of months or miles if your car has a factory defect that makes the paint come off too soon.

    For a quick overview, StormWise Auto Body Shop, an auto body shop based in Lakewood, Colorado, provides average cost ranges for common paint repair types:

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    Is paint covered under a bumper-to-bumper warranty?

    Bumper-to-bumper warranties don’t usually cover paint. They’re meant to cover factory defects, like a leaking roof on a convertible — not cosmetic issues like paint. If you’re worried about your car’s paint, you might need to buy a separate protection plan.

    How long is paint covered under warranty?

    The length of paint coverage varies depending on the car manufacturer. But most brands like Ford and BMW cover original factory-applied paint defects (not wear and tear) for three years from the day you buy the car or until you hit 36,000 miles — whichever comes first.

    Does insurance cover paint damage?

    Your car insurance might cover paint damage if you have collision or comprehensive coverage. Collision insurance pays for accident-related damage, while comprehensive insurance handles damage from non-collision events like hail or vandalism. Just remember, you’ll have to pay your deductible before insurance starts covering the cost.

    Article sources
    ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
    1. Federal Trade Commission Consumer Advice, “Auto Warranties and Auto Service Contracts.” Accessed May 3, 2024.
    2. StormWise Auto Body Shop, “A Comprehensive Guide To Car Paint Repair Cost And Options.” Accessed May 3, 2024.
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