It’s an unfortunate reality that driving your car daily will result in some wear and tear. The front of your car will inevitably receive the brunt of the damage with random rocks, bugs, and bumper-car type of activity.
Getting your bumper looking like new doesn’t have to break the bank, whether you do it yourself or you enlist the help of an auto body shop. No matter which option you choose, it’s important to know the difference in cost and labor.
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Though this is probably the most expensive option in terms of repair, it will also be the best in terms of quality because professional auto body shops will be able to.
Total Cost: $100-$1000
Even though the price disparity seems excessive, it solely relies on the nature of the repair. Factors such as the material of your bumper, how serious the damage is, and the type of paint needed to blend everything in are all going to affect the cost of a professional repair.
Take pictures of the damage and email them to shops around your area to get an estimate. If the damage is minor, you may be able to repair it yourself and save on the cost of a professional shop.
Be warned, bringing your vehicle to an auto body shop will require you to have an alternate mode of transportation for a few days while they do the repairs. It’s rare that repairs are done on the same day.
There is also the possibility that it would cost more to fix damages on a bumper than it would to replace the whole thing altogether. The only way to get a proper answer to this (if you decide to go the professional route) is to either call, email, or visit your local shops.
Minor scrapes and damages can be repaired fairly easily in your own garage if you have the necessary tools.
Total Cost: $50 – $300
Whether you scraped your bumper on a curb or didn’t see your mailbox when leaving the driveway, these minor repairs can be done by yourself quickly.
Consider this your best option for not only saving money by avoiding labor costs at an auto body shop, but it’s also less of a hassle than having to drop your car off and find an alternate mode of transportation for a few days.
There are, however, certain instances where you should opt for professional repair instead of a do-it-yourself approach.
These instances include broken bumpers that need to be completely replaced, metal bumpers (like those on classic or custom cars), numerous deep scratches, and scratches that go past the bumper and onto the car metal.
The types of repairs needed to fix the issues mentioned above may end up costing you more if you choose the DIY route and could be more difficult to get just right. You don’t want to end up drawing more attention to the damage by botching a difficult repair on your own.
How to Repair Your Own Bumper Scrapes
As long as the damage isn’t too severe and you feel confident to take on the project by yourself, gather up some supplies to get your bumper looking as good as new. You will need the following:
- Fine and coarse sandpaper (3,000 and 5,000 grit)
- Buffing pad (or a kitchen sponge)
- Microfiber cloth
- Polish compound & pad
- Scratch putty (for deeper scuffs)
- Factory-matched spray paint
- Masking tape or painter’s tape
- Car wax
Keep in mind – you may not need all of these items. It depends on the severity of the scratch, so it really is at your own discretion.
Clean & Prep
Using just soap and water, wash the area around the scratch well to remove any other dirt particles. Since you will be sanding, skipping this step could mean you end up sanding other contaminants into your car’s paint and making even more scratches.
Thoroughly dry the area with a microfiber cloth. Create a box around the scratch with your tape, leaving about 1 inch on either side of the scratch.
Next, spray some clean water on the area, wrap your fine sandpaper around a buffing pad or a sponge (this ensures even pressure), and start lightly buffing the scratch from side to side. Do not go up and down the length of the scratch.
Spray the area with water again and lightly wipe it away. The clear coat should have started to blend in, and the scratch should be less visible. You can repeat the above sanding process if you feel it needs a little more buffing.
If the scrape is just deeper than the clear coat, you can use your coarse sandpaper in the same way, then finish it off with fine sandpaper. Be sure to check the progress every couple of minutes. You only want to buff out the scratch, not strip the paint!
Fill Deep Scratches (Optional)
If a scratch is particularly stubborn, you can fill it with scratch putty. Simply apply it as directed and let it harden for several minutes, then repeat the above sanding and buffing steps.
Once you can no longer see the scratch, you can remove the tape around the area. You’ll be left with a dull, hazy box that now needs to be polished. First, remove all the sanding byproducts with water and your microfiber cloth.
Apply the polishing compound on a polishing pad and start evenly polishing the area.
While this can be done by hand, it will take longer and may not produce a result that is as pretty as using an orbital buffer. These can be rented (or borrowed from your neighbor!)
Wax or Paint
If buffed and polished correctly, a scratch in the clear coat should not need to be painted over. You can simply apply some car wax to protect the newly polished area.
However, if you feel the repaired area is slightly off-color, you can use your factory-matched spray paint to touch up and blend in the paint.