Brand New Look for My 15-Year Old Car And How I Save Money On This

As part of our frugal ways, my wife and I share only one car and we were able to do so by deciding to move closer to where I work. This way, neither one of us has to take the public transportation.

I have taken care of the “mechanical” aspects of my car by following the periodical maintenance consistently and this is one of the reasons on how the car made it to fifteen years and has at least 245,000 miles! And believe it or not, it is still in good running condition.

On the other hand, the physical attribute is a different story. My car has suffered a lot of body damages due to numerous accidents.

  • The door on the left rear side had a pretty bad damage and this one was caused by a hit and run. Those irresponsible and inconsiderate people struck my car in the parking lot but took off and never left any insurance information. The saddest part was that there were no witnesses that came forward. I no longer have the full or comprehensive coverage since it does not make sense to pay for a high premium knowing that the book value of the car is around $2,500 only. So this means that I have to pay for the damages myself.
  • The fender and bender has been replaced so many times due to car accidents to no fault of mine and even though the other party paid for the damages, the fact that the car suffered damages may also cause the frame to deteriorate down the road. So far, body shop experts say that there were no damages to the frame.
  • There were a lot of dents and dings around the car.
  • And lastly, the paint has really faded on some areas while there are a lot of scratches and paint chip throughout the body.

So you can pretty much paint a picture on how my car looks like!



At first, I did not want to fix all the damages and restore the paint but since the car still runs good and may potentially last for another 5 years, I decided to have it fixed.

I’ve been approached by a lot of  people and offered their services for just $250 to $300 to fix the damage but I just do not trust those people. I much rather have it fixed at a body shop and obtain warranty on the job.

So I went to various car body shops and asked for quotes and these were what I got:

  • $1,499 – brand new door including paint job just for the door at a reputable non-chained body repair shop in my area. This is just to fix the door
  • $1,216 – used door at another reputable body repair shop
  • $591 – to fix the door
  • $2,500 – to get a quality paint for the whole car
  • $1,000 – to fix the door, fix the other dents, and paint job for the whole car done at one of the chain body paint shop. The price was actually $1,180 but I had just negotiated the price to drop it down to $1,000.

The problem with fixing and painting just the doors is that my car would look funny when the job is finished. One door looks brand new while the rest of the body were still in a pretty bad shape!

So, of course I opted for the $1,000 job, which offered the most value.

If my car were newer, I would have replaced the door and spent money on the paint job for the whole car for a total cost of around $4,000. Since it is old and may only last around 5 more years, I figure that the $1,000 body and whole car paint job is good enough. Besides it has a 5 year warranty for any peeling and fading. In addition, they claim that the paint is good for 9 years.


All I want is to drive a presentable car since it just not very appealing driving around with that big damage. In addition, often times, we have guest coming from other countries or states and it’s also good to have a “spruce up” car! Purchasing a new car is still not in our financial agenda yet so I much rather just fix the car.

Last year alone, I only spent $500 in repairs and have been averaging only $300 in repairs for the past five years. By far, this is the biggest repair expense that I have incurred on but the fact that I am still gaining substantial savings versus purchasing a new car with an average monthly payment of around $500 (for the same car plus comprehensive insurance coverage). I do not count the maintenance into the equation since even on a brand new car, I would still spend money on oil change, tune-ups, tires, brake pads, etc. I normally count only the repairs to see if it’s time to purchase a new car.

So far, our car is still hanging in there.


  1. Amazing how much variance there is between quotes! Though the after picture is a little dark, I can see the shine! Great job on getting it all done for 1K!

    • Ken says

      You’re right, it came out a little dark, and it’s probably due to the bright sun. I was trying to take a picture of the whole car and not just the section with the big damage so I stepped a little further.

  2. this is a great way to get some more use out of your car. No need to buy new when you can fix what you have and make it presentable.

  3. That’s awesome that you are able to get by with that little amount to repair the car after that many years. I hope it lasts quite a while longer for you.

  4. The car looks awesome. Don’t you just hate those hit and runs so to speak?! They just suck. Hope your car has many years left- it sure looks good.

    • Ken says

      Yap, hate those hit and runs as well especially now that I do not have the comprehensive coverage. I have to pay cash on all the body damage. If it’s really small, I would have just ignored it since the car is old but the damage was pretty big and very noticeable.

      • There is a fine line between looking after a car and putting money into something that isn’t worth it. I have hit that point with one of my cars and we are not at the point of selling it. We got a new car and don’t need it and the repairs aren’t worth it anymore.

        • Ken says

          That happened to me ,too, on my previous car before I bought this black car brand new. I just have to get rid of the car because it’s costing me too much in repairs and I did not care how much I sold it for. I ended up selling it for $300. The cost of the repairs was $700 and I knew then that it was time to buy a new car.

  5. How funny, I had my car repainted a few years back with the same idea. It still looks pretty good 🙂

  6. The car came out really well! Nice job!

  7. Looks great! Hopefully, it’ll last a few more years.
    I heard that you can paint your car with house paint and rollers on Car Talk! haha… 😀
    Sounds like it would take up a lot of time though.

    • Ken says

      Thanks. I really hope that it’ll last a few more years. So far, it is still in good running condition and has not created headaches (cross my fingers :)) yet!!

  8. Super job, Ken. This is probably one maintenance expense that you might get all back if you would decide to sell it.

  9. Nice job and great investment if you get five more years. It’s unreal all the money you save from monthly payments and insurance!

  10. Car looks great!

    I’m in the same predicament right now. We have been judiciously saving for a new car, but I still can’t stomach the thought of spending such a large chunk of savings for a car. I’m just hoping our 1997 Chrysler Lebaron lasts forever. 🙂