Auto painting can be quite expensive if you want to have a really great paint job. Of course, you can find shops that offer really cheap paint jobs but auto painting is one of the situations where you truly get what you pay for.
A cheap paint job will look cheap. The shop will spend little time properly masking the areas that shouldn't have paint applied. You've probably seen a car where the trunk lock was painted; the formerly shiny chrome door handles were painted over; that is what you get when you elect to get really cheap auto painting.
However, you can get a great paint job and save money by doing some of the work yourself. About 90% of the cost of auto painting is the preparation before paint is applied to the car. This offers you an opportunity to save money on your paint job if you don't mind doing some hard work.
When you visit the auto paint shop, ask what you can do to prepare the car and reduce the price of the painting. Many shops will reduce the price if you remove chrome parts in advance. They may reduce the price if you clean the surface and remove old silicone-based wax and grease. To do this, you purchase a good quality wax and grease remover and find a well-ventilated place to work. Don't perform this task in a closed garage because the fumes can be hazardous.
You can also remove old wax and grease using scrubbing pads or an abrasive household cleaner like Comet. Use a bit of caution with these procedures because it is really easy to scratch chrome or even glass.
Another step you may be able to perform yourself is the feathering of scratches and paint chips. These areas must be smoothed and evened out using sand paper. The initial sanding can be performed with 80 or 100 grit and change to finer and finer sand paper until the final sanding touches are done with 220 grit.
Ask the body shop if you can do some of the larger masking yourself. Masking is simply the process of placing painter's tape over areas that should not be painted. Some body shops will not guarantee the quality of paint if you mask the car or any part of it yourself, so be sure this will actually save you money without infringing on the paint guarantee.