Whether you’ve been in a collision and your vehicle has sustained paint damage, or you just want a new color on an old classic, getting the paint job right is extremely important. After all, it’s the first thing people see! Without the proper prep work or the right technicians, you can end up with a vehicle that looks even worse than it did before it got painted!
Today, we’re taking a close look at Maaco, the auto painting, and collision repair shop you know from its infamous “uh oh, better get Maaco!” ads that ran in the 1980s and 1990s. Maaco specializes in providing cheap, fast bodywork and paint jobs, but if you take a look online, you’ll see some pretty mixed reviews.
We dive into those reviews to uncover the truth about Maaco and help you decide whether it’s the right choice for your budget and paint job needs.
What Should I Expect When I Take My Vehicle to Maaco?
One of the first things that you need to know about the fifty-year-old company is that it’s a franchise. You’re probably familiar with franchises–after all, many of our favorite fast food restaurants are run in this fashion.
A franchise just means that each location is independently owned, with the owners buying or leasing all the propriety information it takes to run that location, including logos, business secrets, and the like.
Anthony A. Martino, the original owner of Maaco, fell in love with the franchise model when he started AAMCO in the 1960s. After starting over 500 franchises in less than a decade, Martino sold his share of ownership to his business partner and a few years later, opened Maaco.
Maaco experienced similar lightning growth, opening 200 stores in five years, and by the time Maaco was sold to a holding company in 2008, Maaco was an established presence throughout North America. That’s partly why we’re able to have this conversation today; if you live in any sort of major urban area, there’s a good chance there’s a Maaco nearby.
How Does This Impact My Paint Job?
Maaco caught on quickly thanks to its focus and low prices; because it offered just a few services, it could specialize in doing things quickly at a low cost. Unlike dealerships or full-service auto repair shops that have to have a wider variety of tools and trained technicians on hand, Maaco can keep things at an important minimum.
The fact that it’s a franchise means one of a few things. First, service will vary from location to location. Thanks to technology, we have access to reviews from places like Yelp and Google Reviews, where customers get to rate their experiences.
If you’re looking into taking your vehicle to Maaco, we don’t just recommend researching the company as a whole; we also recommend taking the time to research your specific location.
I Like the Other Wendys Better
Just like that one Wendys down the road from you always gets your order wrong, but the one in the next town always gets it right, different franchise locations offer slightly different experiences. This alone helps to account for why some people love their Maaco experience, and some people hate it.
It’s also important to note, as you navigate reviews online, that you understand that most people have average, positive experiences with a company. These, however, aren’t the people who tend to leave reviews. Instead, it’s the customers that had bad experiences that take the time to log in and leave a nasty review.
Look for the Common Denominator
What we look for are trends. Are seven out of eight negative reviews all complaining about the same thing? It’s also important to pay close attention to expectations. From the getgo, we’ll tell you honestly this isn’t a dealership or custom paint job! This is an affordable paint job; keep your expectations adjusted accordingly, and you’ll be in good shape.
Let’s get a little more detailed and talk about specific services Maaco offers. When you visit the website, you’ll find it is clear and easy to navigate.
You’ll be immediately prompted to enter your zip code or use the “Maaco Near Me” function so they can connect you with your local factory, but you can also learn about featured locations, get more information on all services offered, and see customer testimonials and experiences.
Scheduling is Everything
You’ll also have the opportunity to schedule an appointment. We love this option as it saves time and the hassle of picking up the phone; three cheers for Maaco’s use of technology! We should also note that this is another way Maaco saves money on costs since it doesn’t have to hire as much front office staff.
Maaco cutting costs mean you pay less. Here are some of the specialized services Maaco offers:
- Windshield repair
- Dent repair (even if you don’t need a paint touch up)
- Spray bed lining (if you’d like your truck bed lined)
- Lease turn-in (this unique service helps you avoid costly dings when you turn in your lease)
- Truck and oversized equipment paint jobs and collision repair
- Fleet paint (Maaco will service your entire commercial fleet)
- Insurance claims (the company will work directly with your insurance so that you don’t have to)
Outside of these special services, Maaco offers two main tracks: cosmetic car repairs, also known as collision repair, and paint services. Cosmetic car repairs are those for which there’s no engine damage or structural damage. We’re talking fender-benders, bent hoods, and so forth.
The company will help you distinguish between Class A repairs, which are repairs characterized by your insurance company as coverable and elective repairs, which are repairs you’ll be paying for, yourself.
Maaco offers four paint packages along with free estimates and consultations. The packages are as follows:
- Basic paint (you’ll receive single-stage enamel with accurate color match and gloss along with a one-year warranty)
- Preferred (this includes a three-year warranty thanks to a urethane finish, which provides longer-lasting wear)
- Premium (you’ll get a five-year warrant thanks to the two-stage process used here)
- Platinum (the only project that includes prep work, you’ll receive a light chip and scratch repair plus block sanding and priming as well as a urethane sealer and a five-year warranty)
Maaco paint prices vary, from about five hundred on a full-car paint job to several thousand (you’ll pay less for smaller jobs), but they’re much, much less than you’d pay at an auto shop or the dealership.
In the next section, we have some suggestions for how you can get the most out of your Maaco paint job, plus how you can save even more.
Getting the Most Out of Your Maaco Paint Job
First, you need to understand some things about paint. How the paint is applied matters and so does the quality of the paint used and the skill of the technician making the application, but the biggest factor in a beautiful paint job is the prep work.
Think about this: part of the reason your car looked so great when you drove it off the lot for the first time is that the paint had been applied to a perfect car. No dings. No chips. No scratches. And the paint was beautiful.
Prep, Prep, Prep
If you’re painting a car that has even a slight chip or dent or any other kind of damage, if it’s not found and taken care of before the paint application, the paint will cause everything to show up even more clearly than it did before.
Even if you think your vehicle is clean, it probably has dings that you haven’t noticed. Plus, priming your car–sanding it thoroughly–is important, and unless you’re going with Maaco’s platinum package, they’re not going to do this for you.
Ultimately, if you want a pristine paint job, you’re going to have to pay more for it, or you’re going to have to put in a little elbow work. Pull out your electric sander and get to work. You should also use putty to fill in dents and scratches that don’t sand away.
Not only with this up the quality of your paint job, but it will save you money and help you avoid that ultra expensive premium paint package.
What’s our final opinion on Maaco? If your budget is small, you don’t need a perfect paint job, you’re willing to do the prep work, or you want something functional rather than custom, it’s a great way to get a solid paint job without forking over a ton of cash.