Sun damage is one thing that many car owners either do not know about or neglect. Most cars use a special kind of enamel polyurethane. This substance is highly resistant to water and damage from weathering. However, excessive sunlight can damage your car paint, reduce its effectiveness at sealing out the elements, and cause the paint color to fade. Excess sunlight can also damage car interior components like the dashboard and vinyl seating.
Overall, it will cost you an average of $1,500 to fix sun damage to your car. The costs can range from just $500 on the low end to up to $3,000+ on the high end, depending on the scope of sun damage. The sun can damage both paint and vinyl fixtures in the car, both of which have different costs to fix.
Sun damage can be very mild, or it can cause cracking in various parts of the car. So if your car has sun damage, you should get it fixed sooner rather than later. So we put together this comprehensive article on the costs of fixing sun damage to your car.
Sun Damage Repair Costs
“Sun damage” is a broad term and can refer to several types of damage. The most common types of sun damage include damage to your coat of paint and damage to your car’s interior. These two kinds of damages require different fixes and costs, so we will cover them in different sections.
Paint Sun Damage
Your car’s exterior has a top layer of clear coat to prevent wear and tear. Over time, this clear coat layer can degrade, exposing the underlying main coat to UV rays. UV rays can cause your paint to fade, crack, and chip.
If the paint damage is not too severe, you can often fix it with some color repair products for between $10 to $40. The benefit of these products is that they are cheap and you can DIY color repair at home. However, the effectiveness of these kinds of home-solution products is limited. If the damage is too sustained, you’ll need a pro paint job.
You can expect to pay about $1,000 on average to fully repaint your car with a layer of primer, color, and clear coat. The typical range for repainting a car is between $500 to $3,000, depending on the make/model of your car as well as the extent of the damage. Some auto shops will offer less than $500, but these paint jobs tend to be low quality.
Here is a table showing average repaint costs for various popular car brands. Keep in mind that these costs don’t just include painting but also any prep work before painting, such as cleaning, sanding, priming, and drying.
|Make/Model||Average Paint Cos|
As you can see, the costs for repainting vary dramatically. Generally, larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs will be more expensive.
These costs are for a full repaint of a car, including the primer, base color, and clear coat top. If the sun damage is moderate enough, then you may not need a complete paint overhaul. You can often get a touch-up paint job for around $200 to $400. A simple paint touch-up job will refresh the color coat and may include some clear coat for additional protection.
Your car’s paint damage might be too sustained for just a touch up though. If the UV damage has penetrated to the base primer layer, then you will need to remove all paint/primer and completely repaint the car to get rid of the damage.
Interior Sun Damage Repair Costs
The other major area where sun damage is common is on the interior vinyl and leather upholstery of your car. The most common damage spots are the dashboard and the car seats.
Like with sun damage to paint, you can buy a DIY solution to get rid of some of the fading in the interior of your car. DIY vinyl and upholstery repair kits cost anywhere between $10 to $40. However, if the damage is too much, then you will have to replace the upholstery.
To do a complete re-upholstering of your car seats, it would cost around $250 to $750 per seat to replace it with original manufacturer’s material. If you need any further repairs, such as replaced springs or switches, it can cost up to $400 per seat.
Alternatively, if you want to re-upholster the entire interior of your car, including seats, dashboard, side panels, sail panels, carpets, and headline, it will most likely cost between $2,000 to $4,000, with an average cost of $3,500.
If you do not have money to completely replace the upholstery on your car seats, then you can always opt for seat covers. Seat covers go over your seats and protect them from further damage. They are often made from heavy-duty materials such as vinyl or saddle blanket fabric.
Generally speaking, seat covers for most cars will cost you between $50 and $200. Most common seat covers are made from materials like vinyl leather or cotton-blends. The more expensive varieties are made from genuine leather or sheepskin. Leather and sheepskin seat covers can run you $750 or more.
Dashboard Replacement Costs
Another common area for sun damage is the dashboard. Your car’s windows and windshield focus light and can cause fading and cracking on the dashboard.
If the damage is not too severe, you can buy a DIY sun damage kit for around $30. Of course, these kits can only repair so much damage. If your dashboard is warped or cracked too much, you may have to replace the entire portion of your car.
The average cost to replace the dashboard is around $2,000. This cost includes parts and labor. The expensive price is a result of all the wiring in your dashboard and equipment panels. If you replace your entire dashboard, you will also need to replace wiring and refit any warped control panels. Modern cars have a lot of hardware in the dashboard and you need to reconnect all the wires.
Factors that Affect Sun Damage Repair
- Affected area. The two most common places that see sun damage are paint on the roof/hood of your car, and interior vinyl or leather near windows. Your car’s exterior absorbs most of the sunlight, and the windshield can reflect and increase light intensity on the dashboard. Generally speaking, it costs more to repair sun damage to vinyl than fixing faded or cracked paint.
- Type of paint. If the damage is mostly on your car paint, then you need to get it repaired. Modern cars typically use either urethane or acrylic lacquer. Urethane paints are newer and more durable but are more expensive than traditional acrylic paints.
- Extent of damage. Some sun damage is very mild and can be fixed with at-home products like wax or color protectors. More extensive damage may cause cracking and chipping in paint and vinyl. The greater the sun damage, the more expensive it will be to fix.
- Make/model. Obviously, your car’s make and model will affect how much it costs to reupholster the interior or repaint the exterior. Newer cars will likely be more expensive to repair and certain materials, such as leather, will also be more expensive to repair.
- Type of upholstery. As you might expect, the type of upholstery you have will affect costs. Materials such as leather will cost more to repair and replace than materials such as vinyl or urethane.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to repair sun damage?
It will cost an average of $500 to repaint a car and around $400 per seat to reupholster. Dashboard replacement can cost up to $2,000.
Can I DIY repair sun damage?
Yes, you can buy color repair kits from your local automotive store. However, we would recommend getting a professional to do the job.
How can I prevent sun damage?
The two best ways to prevent sun damage are to regularly wax your car’s exterior and keep it out of bright sunlight for extended periods. You can also tint your windows or buy seat covers to protect the interior of your car.
Sun damage can wreak havoc on your car’s paint and interior. Fortunately, in almost all circumstances, sun damage is completely fixable. You either need to give your car a new coat of paint or reupholster the interior.
To summarize, paint repairs will cost an average of $1,000, while reupholstering your car will cost approximately $400 per seat. You can also find DIY color repair materials for between $10 to $40, though we would recommend seeing a professional for fixing sun damage. You may be interested in our guide on sunroof installation cost.