So you've decided that it's time to change the color of your faithful but aging vehicle. Maybe you're sick and tired of looking at the same thing every day, or maybe you never liked the original color in the first place. Whatever your motive, changing your car's color is certainly doable—but it's not as easy as slathering on any old paint you might have lying around the house. Here are some important tips to help you make sure the job will ensure beautiful, lasting results.

You Really Don't Want to Do This Yourself

You've probably seen the aftermath of a do-it-yourself automotive paint job. Hallmarks of this achievement usually include uneven color distribution, visible swirls or blobs of paint, and a dull or rough finish instead of a smooth, glossy one. Of course there's a right way and a wrong way to paint your own vehicle. But be warned that the right way is also the hard, lengthy and tedious way.

A huge part of the job must be completed before you can even apply the first ounce of paint. This initial phase involves preparing the entire body of the car to receive its new color. Doing this correctly involves stripping away all the clear coat (the smooth outer protectant layer that protects the existing paint job) and sanding all the visible surfaces with 600 grit or 400 grit sandpaper, whichever does a better job of removing any flaws from the old paint job and roughening up the surface so new paint will stick to it. But that's not all. A proper repaint also requires you to remove (not just mask) any removable components you don't want painted—including the dashboard, seats, trim and engine! Hiring a professional auto body shop to do the work takes these headaches off your table.

You Generally Get What You Pay For

While nobody loves the idea of shelling out thousands of dollars for a total car repaint, you don't want to risk substandard work—especially when you're planning to change your vehicle's color significantly. The more dramatic the color change, the more coats of paint have to be applied, and the more labor hours the project will (or logically should) demand. Your friend who happens to have his own paint sprayer may be willing to do the work for a few hundred dollars. But that amount of money isn't likely to buy you the extensive preparation, component removal, multiple applications and component re-installation that ensures a quality result.

Expect to pay about $2,000 for a professional paint color change. An experienced, well-equipped auto body shop like Niagara Glen-Merritt Collision Limited will give you good value within that price range, repainting every nook and cranny perfectly so that no one will ever suspect your car was once a different color. Always ask detailed questions about the shop's preparation and painting process, and make certain that the work comes with a warranty or other guarantee of satisfaction. When you consider the alternative of buying a whole new car, you're getting a beautiful new ride for an amazing price,

Think About the Interior

Changing the color of your car means more than just repainting it -- there's still the interior to consider. Your forest-green seats and carpet may have looked great with your white exterior, for instance, but they may not look quite as flattering once that exterior assumes a royal blue color. If you have some flexibility as to the paint color, of course, you may choose one that will go with your existing interior, but that approach also limits your creative freedom. Light-colored upholstery and carpeting can sometimes be dyed or reconditioned to a darker tone that better suits your new paint job. In other cases, your best option may be to replace these components entirely. Your auto body shop will probably be happy to locate these components and install them for you.

If purchasing all-new carpeting, seat cushions and interior trim just isn't financially possible, don't dismiss the option of finding the perfect interior colors from a facility that sells used parts. Many auto body shops can recommend reputable salvage yards or other shops that provide like-new second-hand interior components at significant savings -- while still providing top-quality installation.

A gorgeous new color scheme for your vehicle, inside and out, could be the next best thing to a genuinely new car, as long as you're willing to make a reasonable investment and ensure that the process is followed correctly.