Do you want to give your car’s interior a fresh new look? Maybe restoring a classic to its original glory? Need to cover wear and tear or boost resale value? No matter which one it is, you want to know:
Is it possible to change your car’s interior color?
Yes, you can change the color of every part of your car’s interior, including the seats, door panels, dashboard, interior trim, steering wheel, headliner, and carpet.
As I’ve mentioned many times on my blog, personalizing my cars on the inside is my favorite part of the hobby. I discussed the best car interior colors in one of my recent articles.
Here, I’ll explain the options for changing car interior colors and the average cost.
How to Change the Color of Different Car Interior Parts?
There are various methods for changing the color of each part of your car’s interior. You can choose a professional restoration shop or painting product or go for cost-effective interior upgrades and DIY solutions.
It depends on whether you’re looking for a complete interior color change, restoring your leather upholstery, enhancing the plastic components, etc., and how much you’re willing to spend.
I’ve done most of it when customizing my cars’ interiors and will do my best to cover all options for each part. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll better understand how to change the color of your interior and make the right choice. Let’s get into it.
There are many options to change the color of your car seats. You could buy seat covers, use special paint, apply leather or vinyl dye, or replace the fabric or leather upholstery. Let’s look at those.
When I started modifying cars in the early 2000s, seat covers were cheap and ugly. Nowadays, they’re available in many materials, styles, and colors. You can even get them custom-made and achieve a sporty vibe or a touch of luxury without spending too much time and money.
Suppose you aren’t happy with the original color of your seats, but they’re in mint condition. In that case, seat covers are something worth considering. They’ll also protect your upholstery.
It probably bothers you if your fabric or leather car seats are worn out. It might be a good temporary solution until you’re ready to restore them using one of the methods below.
There are different options for fabric, vinyl, or leather seats, so if you want to paint your car seats, make sure you choose the right and high-quality product.
The fabric and vinyl paints will only allow you to refresh or change the color, while the paint made for leather upholstery can also recover small cracks.
About ten years ago, when I was selling a BMW, I tried to repaint the leather car interior. I bought the most expensive paint, but the results were great, so I had to take it to a professional to do it again.
My point is that proper surface preparation and application techniques are crucial for achieving a successful outcome. YouTubers make it look easy, but I suggest you think twice before buying interior paint and doing it yourself.
Dyeing the car seats is used mainly for leather upholstery, as it keeps the leather’s natural characteristics and texture intact. Unlike regular interior paint, dyes penetrate the material’s fibers, creating a more permanent color change.
I have yet to try that, but according to some of my car buddies, dyeing leather seats isn’t a simple DIY job. Cleaning, preparation, equipment, multiple coats with sufficient drying time in between; I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a pro do it.
I’ve had a car interior reupholstered three times in my life, and the best advice I can give you is to always go with a reputable auto interior shop. Not just to get the job done but also to advise you on materials and color combos.
Genuine leather is the best; there is no doubt about that. However, to last, it must be treated regularly. I did a combination of faux suede and fabric on an Audi I had for a while, and it turned out great. It perfectly matched the rest of the car’s interior.
You can see some examples of good material and interior color combos here.
When changing the color of your door panels, the options are the same ones we just discussed in the car seats section.
Plus, if you’re going to change the color of your door panels, you’re doing the seats, too, right? The difference is that door panels are much easier to paint as you have less surface to work on and probably no cracks.
The hard part is removing them. Whenever I have to disassemble a door, a few clips end up in the bin. The bottom line is you could save money by doing the panels at home. Get a set of interior fastener clips, and be careful with the wires.
Changing the dashboard color using paint was a standard car customization method twenty years ago. Today, I’d only use paint to restore an old vehicle. You can fix scratches around the center console, A/C panel, shifter, etc., or refresh any faded interior plastic parts.
Let’s discuss contemporary methods for changing your car’s dashboard color.
Vinyl wrap is what I’ve used the most for partial car interior color changes during the last decade. Wrapping the trim of our Tesla Model 3 to match the Stealth Grey exterior is a recent example.
It’s inexpensive, relatively easy to apply, and conforms to the shape of a surface, providing a smooth finish. Vinyl wraps come in a wide range of colors, textures, and patterns you can experiment with, and the best part is they’re not permanent.
Being reversible makes the vinyl wrap perfect for beginner DIY enthusiasts. I started by accenting smaller, less complex interior components and quickly became confident.
While vinyl wraps are also available in different finishes like carbon fiber or brush aluminum, hydro dipping is the way to go if you want more than just changing the color of your dashboard.
Hydro dipping, also called hydrographic printing, is the new trend in car modding. It allows the application of intricate details to the interior, exterior, and even the rims. Camouflage, skulls, flames, cartoon heroes, anything you can think of can be applied to your car’s interior trim and dashboard.
Changing the car interior color using hydro graphics is complicated and requires great attention to detail. I haven’t tried doing it myself yet. Hence, I won’t recommend it for DIY beginners.
Car interior dashboard kits are plug-and-play aftermarket accessories. They typically consist of trim pieces, panels, and overlays made from carbon fiber, wood grain, aluminum, or painted plastic, allowing you to change your car interior color.
Dash kits are precision-cut to fit the interior of specific car models. These can be applied over or replace dashboard components, such as the center console, instrument panel, and door inserts.
As I’m sure you know, buying a cover is the most affordable way to change your steering wheel color, and the most expensive is doing a reupholstery. I strongly advise you to go for high-quality materials in both cases. Your hands and the sun will quickly damage cheap options.
Using leather dyes or paint is in the mid-price range, but this is usually the choice of people repairing the steering wheel rather than changing the color when customizing a car interior.
I usually wrap the dash components and steering wheel trim pieces in the same color. I’ll probably do the same to my next car, but this time partially hydro dipping the wheel itself.
Most folks think replacing the headliner is the only way to change its color. That’s not exactly the case, though. Fabric dyes or spray paints specifically designed for auto interiors are also available and used by people who want to change the headliner color from light to black.
Don’t bother with dyes or sprays if you drive an older vehicle. Both my BMWs are garage-kept and driven only on weekends, but the headliners became loose in the past 18 months. It’s something you should also expect if it hasn’t happened already.
My point is if your car isn’t five years old or newer, headliner replacement is the right choice. I went for alcantara. It looks much nicer than the original fabric, and you can match any interior color with the available options.
Changing the color of your car carpet can be done either with dyes or by replacing it.
If you bought a new ride and don’t feel the carpets go well with the interior color, go for dyeing. Carpets of older cars are worn out more often than not, so I think replacing them with new ones in a color you like is the right approach. Get it done by pros in both scenarios.
Some may say car mats are also an option. Aftermarket mats will protect your vehicle from dirt, and yes, some products will add a touch of customization, but that’s about it.
How Much Does It Cost to Change Car Interior Color?
Now that we’ve covered all options for changing car interior colors, it’s time to answer the most important question: What’s the cost?
When doing a restoration or working on a top-notch custom project, most car guys would pick a dominant interior color and reupholster everything. The choice of materials (leather, vinyl, or fabric) will affect the price, but the labor is what you’ll pay the big buck for.
Here are the average numbers based on my experience and recent research:
- Car seats: $3,000 – $5,000
- Door panels: $1,000 – $2,000
- Headliner: $500 – $650
- Dash, center console, armrest: $300 – $500 each
- Steering wheel: $500 – $750
Interior Paint & Dye
It’s hard to give you an average cost for changing car interior color using these methods. Too many factors affect the price: the size of your vehicle, interior materials, how many layers you’ll need depending on the color you picked, etc.
I can tell you interior spray paint costs around $25 per can, and you’ll need at least ten cans for seats and door panels. If you recall, I mentioned trying to repaint my BMW interior and not being happy with the outcome. I then paid $600 to a guy to do it, but that was ten years ago.
Vinyl Wrap & Hydro Dip
Wrapping the interior trim and dash components is something you can DIY. A top-quality 1ft x 5ft film will cost you $10. Do the math to see how much you’ll need, and make sure you buy some extra if it’s your first time. A professional will charge you between $500 and $750 for it.
Hydro-dipping the interior will cost you $25-$50 for the small pieces and up to $150 for the bigger ones. You can expect a number between $750 and $1,250, depending on how many you want done. I’d ask a few shops for the total cost and pick the best offer.
Changing Car Interior Color with Dye (VIDEO)
Finally, I’m going to wrap this up by sharing a detailed step by step video showing how to change car interior color using dye. So, if you’re planning to do this on your own, it will help you get the best results.