Undercoating Your Car Cost

How Much Does Car Undercoating Cost?

Last Updated on February 1, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Undercoating your car is an important part of preventative maintenance and can help protect your vehicle’s undercarriage from rust and corrosion. But how much does it actually cost to undercoat a car?

In this article, we’ll break down the average costs, what undercoating is, what influences the price, its benefits, how to choose the right service, and other considerations regarding undercoating your vehicle.

How Much Does Car Undercoating Cost?

The average cost to undercoat a car typically ranges from $100 to $300, depending on the vehicle’s size and the services included. For a small or midsize sedan, expect to pay around $150 to $250.

Larger SUVs and trucks will be on the higher end, closer to $200 to $300. Luxury and vintage vehicles also tend to cost more to undercoat.

The price can also vary depending on the auto shop, materials used, your location, and any additional services like rust removal. Basic oil-based sprays tend to be the most affordable, while rubberized coatings are more expensive. Shops in major metro areas also charge higher prices compared to rural areas.

AutoZone.com offers undercoating products ranging from $4 to $20.

Synchrony.com reports the following costs:

  • At a dealership: $800-$1,000+
  • At an auto body shop: Up to $300
  • DIY: About $100 for cars to $150 for trucks and SUVs

RundeAutoGroup.com states that the cost for undercoating ranges from about $399 to $500.

Steel City Oil Undercoating provides the following prices:

  • Level 1 (Re-Application): $150
  • Level 2 (Base Job): $200 – $250
  • Level 3 (Trucks, SUVs, cars with undercarriage covers): $350 – $375
  • Level 4 (Most popular, a must for a new or nice vehicle): $600

A Reddit user mentions a cost of $200 for NH Oil Undercoating through an independent mechanic in New Hampshire.

What is Car Undercoating?

Undercoating, also called underbody coating or rustproofing, is a protective coating applied to the underside of a vehicle. It serves to protect the undercarriage from corrosion, rust, and damage from road debris and the elements.

The underbody panel of a car takes a beating from water, mud, salt, snow, and more, ultimately leading to cracks or other types of damage. Undercoating forms a protective barrier to prevent rust and wear.

There are three main types of undercoating:

  • Oil-based sprays – These are the most common and affordable undercoating option. Oil-based sprays are applied with a pressurized sprayer and dry to a black, tar-like coating.
  • Asphalt/rubberized coatings – More expensive but longer-lasting, rubberized asphalt coatings are thick and sticky when applied wet. They dry to a flexible, durable black layer.
  • Wax-based sprays – Wax-based sprays go on thin and dry to a waxy finish. They need more frequent reapplication than thicker coatings.

No matter the material used, a key step is preparing the undercarriage surface first by cleaning and removing any existing rust or flaking coatings. Proper application is also key – the undercoating must coat all exposed metal surfaces completely.

Factors Influencing Undercoating Cost

Several important factors determine how much you’ll pay to undercoat your car:

  • Vehicle size – It takes more materials and time to undercoat larger vehicles, driving up the cost. Small cars and sedans are cheapest, while trucks, vans, and SUVs cost more.
  • Location – Prices are generally higher in major metro areas compared to rural regions due to higher overhead costs for shops. Location can add $50+ to the price.
  • Undercoating materials – Thicker, rubberized coatings are pricier than basic oil sprays. Shop materials fees often add $20-60 to the total.
  • Additional services – Extra services like rust removal/treatment or wheel well coating add to the total cost. These extras can add $50 or more.
  • Age and condition – Heavily rusted vehicles take more prep work, used materials, and labor hours to undercoat, increasing the price.

Benefits of Undercoating Spray on Your Car

Undercoating provides some significant benefits for your vehicle:

You might also like our articles about the cost of car rust repair, clear bra for a car, or truck frame rust repair.

  • Rust prevention – The thick protective coating prevents moisture from reaching metal surfaces, stopping rust in its tracks. This maintains structural integrity.
  • Increased longevity – By preventing rust damage, undercoating can help your car last for years longer before major repairs are needed.
  • Protects components – Brake lines, fuel tanks, exhaust systems and other mechanical parts are shielded from damage.
  • Maintains appearance – No unsightly flaking rust around wheel wells and the underbody. A properly undercoated vehicle looks cleaner.
  • Enhanced resale value – A documented undercoating service history helps vehicles retain more value at resale.
  • Noise reduction – Coatings dampen road noise and vibrations for a quieter ride.

Considering these significant benefits, the $150 to $300 cost is worthwhile for most car owners. Undercoating pays for itself over time by extending the usable life of your vehicle.

Choosing the Right Type of Undercoating Service

To get the full benefits from undercoating, it’s important to choose a proper application service. Here are tips for picking the right provider:

  • Check reputation – Read reviews and talk to people who’ve used the shop before. A reputable company does professional, complete jobs.
  • Ask about materials – Inquire what products and coatings are used. High-quality rubberized materials provide longer protection.
  • Look for experience – An experienced shop with dedicated undercoating services is ideal. Ask how long they’ve provided undercoating.
  • Consider warranties – Many companies offer multi-year warranties on undercoating services. This provides peace of mind on work quality.
  • Check preparation process – Proper cleaning, rust removal, and surface prep are vital first steps. Ensure this key process will be done.
  • Request photos – Ask if the shop will document the undercoating with photos once complete, for your records.

Taking the time to find the right undercoating shop ensures your vehicle gets maximum protection. Checking reviews, materials used, and service warranties can give you confidence in the quality of application.

DIY vs Professional Undercoating

Some vehicle owners consider saving money by DIY undercoating using cans of spray coating available at auto parts stores. However, professional undercoating is worth the extra investment.

DIY application often misses spots, resulting in incomplete protection. The prep work of washing, degreasing, and rust removal is also vital for the coating to adhere properly and is difficult for non-professionals to do thoroughly.

Professional shops use commercial-grade undercoating materials and equipment like air-powered sprayers that provide much more even, complete coverage.

The pros also have experience and training to apply coatings efficiently in clean shop environments, protecting nearby vehicle systems and components from overspray.

In most cases, the extra cost for professional undercoating is well worth it when you consider the importance of protecting your vehicle investment and the limited DIY results.

Long-Term Maintenance and Care

Undercoating and RustproofingUndercoating isn’t a one-time application and forget service. Some ongoing maintenance helps ensure maximum protection over time:

  • Annual visual inspections to check for any thin spots in the coating or new rust spots. Address any problem areas immediately before they spread.
  • Avoiding pressure washing the undercarriage, which can damage the coating. Use touchless automatic car washes instead.
  • Touch up scratches, knocks, or worn spots with fresh undercoating spray as soon as they’re detected.
  • Consider a full reapplication every 2-4 years in harsh climates or for older, high-mileage vehicles. Reapply even if the existing coat looks intact.

With proper maintenance and reapplication, quality undercoatings can continue protecting your vehicle for well over a decade before needing replacement.

Potential Drawbacks and Considerations

While highly recommended for most vehicles, there are a few cautions to keep in mind:

  • Added cost to an already expensive vehicle purchase and maintenance budget.
  • Reapplication needs – coatings do degrade over time and need to be refreshed.
  • In rare cases, extensive pre-existing rust damage weakens the frame or underbody components to the point that undercoating should not be applied until repairs are made.

Carefully inspecting the undercarriage and discussing any concerns with your undercoating shop can help avoid any unexpected pitfalls. Addressing small areas of rust or damage first can make the vehicle ready for coating application.

Conclusion

Protecting your vehicle investment with professional undercoating and rust proofing is highly recommended to guard against rust, retain resale value, and extend the life of your car.

While pricing varies, expect to pay an average of $150 to $300 depending on vehicle size and services included. Taking the time to find a reputable undercoating shop that uses high-quality coatings and proper application techniques will provide the best long-term results. With periodic maintenance and reapplication, undercoating can add years of extra life to your car.

Is vehicle undercoating worth it?

Vehicle undercoating is absolutely worth the price for most cars, especially in areas with cold winters where salt is used on roads. The thick protective coating helps prevent premature rust damage by sealing the undercarriage metal from moisture, road salt, and other corrosive elements.

This maintains structural integrity to keep the vehicle lasting many more years. Undercoating also protects components like brake lines and fuel tanks from damage and road debris.

For the relatively low cost, typically $150-$300, undercoating delivers immense value by extending the life of the vehicle. Properly applied undercoating can add years of extra usable life to a car before corrosion makes repairs uneconomical.

Given the high cost of vehicle purchases and repairs, the price of undercoating is small in comparison for the potential longevity benefits. The return on investment from professional undercoating makes it one of the smartest money-saving steps you can take to protect your automotive investment.

How long does undercoating last?

With proper application and periodic maintenance, the effective life of undercoating is typically 2-12 years, depending on the climate and conditions a vehicle is subjected to.

In regions where roads are heavily salted in winter, coatings tend to last 2-5 years before needing reapplication. In drier, milder climates, undercoatings can last up to 8-12 years before degrading.

Vehicle use also affects coating lifespan – the undercarriage of cars driven daily in all weather will require reapplication more frequently than vehicles used minimally.

And high-mileage vehicles generally need fresh undercoating sooner. No matter your conditions, plan to visually inspect the underbody at least yearly, touching up any thin or worn spots in the coating, to maximize lifespan.

Reapply full professional undercoating at least every 5 years for optimal rust prevention, even if the existing coat looks fine. With proper maintenance, undercoating protects your investment for the long run.

How much does rustproofing cost?

The average cost for professional rustproofing, is $150-$300 depending on the vehicle size and location. Smaller cars like sedans often range from $150-$250, while larger trucks and SUVs are $200-$300, on average.

More expensive rubberized undercoating materials drive up costs $50-$100 higher than basic oil-based sprays. And shops in major metro areas charge more than rural regions, due to higher business overhead.

Additional services like wheel well coating or rust removal can add $50 or more as well. While the upfront cost may seem high, consider the value of rustproofing in extending your vehicle’s life by a decade or more.

The return on investment makes professional rust protection well worth the price. And you get the peace of mind knowing your car’s underbody is fully protected from corrosion for years to come.

Alec Pow
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