Auto Body Repair Shop or DIY? | What’s the difference?

Finding a scratch, dent, or ding on your vehicle can be gut-wrenching. It is difficult to see something you have spent your hard-earned money on being tarnished. Especially when getting a chip or a scratch fixed can take valuable time out of your day.

Thankfully, technology has improved a lot, and with it, there has come a lot of options to fix paint problems on your vehicle. DIY touch up paint kits have come a long way and have given people the ability to do it themselves from the comfort of their own home.

But how do you know when you can easily fix it yourself and when you should instead rely on the professional services of an auto body repair shop? In this article, we will outline the main differences between the two options and which one to choose depending on your needs.

What is the DIY Touch Up Paint Process?

Fixing damaged paint on your own can be a daunting process. The DIY touch up paint process involves several steps. Firstly, you must identify the color code of your vehicle. Once you have the code, you can buy touch up paint kits online, and these have all the equipment you will need in them. Doing the job yourself will involve a step-by-step process which is roughly the same for every make and model; it includes:

  1. Washing & prepping the car
  2. Sanding the area
  3. Applying the primer
  4. Applying the paint
  5. Some more sanding
  6. Applying the clear coat

The above is just a quick rundown of the necessary steps. For the best example of how to complete the process check out the ERA paints Toyota guide. It includes a detailed explanation of all the essential equipment and the process itself.

From start to finish the entire process should take you under a couple of hours. If you have experience with hands-on tasks like this, you may get it done sooner. Of course, this does not account for the overnight drying needed for most touch up jobs. Typically, purchasing a kit will cost you between $40 and $80, whereas a body shop can cost up to and over $900.

What does going to a body shop entail?

If you don’t feel confident in taking on the challenge yourself, you can always rely on the professionals. Your experience at the body shop will depend on the level of work needed.

For larger jobs, they will have to contact your insurance, which will slow down the process. Also, bear in mind that most body shops will not have your specific color on hand and will have to order it in, this can delay the process even further. It is safe to assume that taking your vehicle to a body shop will slow down the process and even cause some disruption to your week. In general, it will also cost significantly more – up to $800 in some cases.

Advantages and disadvantages of fixing it yourself

There are many positive elements to completing a touch-up paint job yourself. These can include:

  • The process is cheaper than a body shop
  • Generally, it is done in less time
  • DIY means less disruption to your week
  • Touch up kits provide you with all the equipment needed for the job in one package

Of course, no method is without its disadvantages. Choosing the DIY route does have some drawbacks, including:

  • You may be uncertain on what to do
  • The process could be daunting for a first-timer
  • DIY touch up kits are not suited for large damaged areas

Advantages and disadvantages of choosing a body shop

Going to a body shop does have some distinct advantages over trying to do the touch-up paintwork yourself, these are:

  • The job is finished to an expert quality standard as the process is routine for them
  • Ideal for large damaged areas
  • Better for significant damage after events like a crash
  • Body shops provide you with a quality guarantee which means you can keep returning until you are happy

However, taking your vehicle to get it repaired professionally has some drawbacks which can affect your decision.

  • Extremely expensive when compared to DIY touch up kits.
  • The process is time-consuming, and you are likely to be without your vehicle for several days or weeks.
  • You have to work with the schedule of the body shop.

When to use each option

There are a few significant factors that will affect your decision on whether to do the paint touch up yourself or go to a body shop.

The number one determining factor is the size of the area that has been damaged. For large areas of damage that may even include entire panels or your bumper, going to a body shop is your best bet. They have the facilities available to be able to coat large areas uniformly whereas the sprayers in touch up kits can’t match the level of coverage on a large panel which can lead to an inconsistent color.

For small scratches and nicks, purchasing a DIY paint kit is the correct approach. It saves you a lot of time, and the finish achieved with these kits is comparable to a body shop when used in small areas.

Trying to establish the depth of a scratch will help you decide which approach to take. For a first-timer, undertaking the touch-up paint process for either a clear coat or primer scratch is relatively straightforward. On the other hand, deep paint layer scratches can double the length of the home process and may newbies uneasy. If it is your first time repairing a scratch and it is deep, exposing the metal underneath, using a body shop may be your best bet.

The last things to consider are time and money. If you are looking to save time and money, it will be best to order a touch-up kit and complete the process yourself. However, if the cost is not an issue, the damaged area is simply too big for a touch-up kit or you want a perfect factory finish, then opting for a body shop will obviously guarantee the best results.


Deciding whether to fix your vehicle isn’t straightforward. Doing it yourself has some significant advantages and means yon control the process start to finish. Letting pros do your touch up ensures that you will be supported if anything goes wrong. The decision rests on the size of the damage, your willingness to attempted the project yourself, and time and money. Whatever method you choose, make sure to get the correct color match.