Any fender damage can be a real pain, and the whole idea of fixing the damage can put a real “dent” in your day. When it comes to thinking about the hassle and expense of repairing a fender bender, you may want to have some guidelines at hand. Any initial steps to tackle the problem are of definite help, and there several different ways to approach the situation. Here are some of them to get started.
Fender Bender Causes and Characteristics
Fender benders are usually minor car accidents that can happen at slower driving speeds, or even while parked. A runaway shopping cart can be the cause, as can a rear-end collision, backing out of a driveway or parking space, or hitting a mailbox. You can identify fender bender characteristics through the appearance of numerous scratches, scrapes, cracks, and dents.
If you don’t have the time to deal with a fender bender repair yourself, the first thing to do is arrange for an inspection with an auto body repair expert. An inspection will entail a thorough examination of any exterior damage. It will also include the removal of outer trim and hardware to get a clearer picture of the extent of the damage. This kind of examination will help a collision expert determine how to properly repair or possibly replace any parts if the damage is significant, or beyond repair.
With a broken or severely damaged fender area, there may be unseen damage that requires moderate to extensive repairs. That could mean the replacement of any number of interior or exterior parts. In this situation, a more thorough assessment or examination should be conducted, including an estimate for repair replacement and labor costs.
Magnitude of Damage
Depending on the magnitude of the damage, minor fender repairs can be completed in a few hours. Any scratches that go along with a dent can be buffed out, and any intense or deeper scratches can be covered. The dents can be pushed out, and any cracks that occur alongside the dents can be filled with the right type of body filler or putty. If the fender bender is minimal, there is usually no need to replace the full bumper.
An expert body person can repair most dents by working with the right materials to restore the fender to its original shape and fit. Once the body shop repairs the damaged spots, they will place a primer over the area. The primer is allowed to set and cure. After that, the damaged area is sanded to get a smooth surface for paint application. Most paint can be easily matched through computer color technology to formulate a specific color for a vehicle. Once painted, a clear coat is applied, and any remaining flaws are buffed out for a smooth and even finish.
Do-it-Yourself Fender Repair
When fender damage is less serious, repairing a minor problem can be done on your own if you have the time and patience. With so many vehicles today having both metal and plastic parts, the pliability of both materials allows an amateur mechanic to repair minor dents and other flaws. There are several easier methods that you can use to repair fender benders. Here are some of the more successful options.
Hot water use can make dent removal easier. Simply boil water in a pot and pour the water over the area in need of repair. The water should soften the plastic area and make it more pliable. Apply pressure behind the bumper, and steadily push out the dent. The dents may be somewhat alleviated, but their appearance will likely not be perfect because of the initial damage. This process can also work using a hairdryer to heat the area and push out the dent. Again, the procedure probably won’t leave a completely smooth finish.
Several suction devices can help when working out a dent. A plunger for sink use could be useful in a larger dented area, while a windshield mount used with cellphones could be used for smaller dents. The windshield mount should contain a pulling handle device.
Before tackling a smaller dent, clean the area thoroughly. Once clean, insert and press the windshield mount suction device onto the dent. Use the handle and pull the cup out, and the dent should release. This action should work with more shallow dents that are sunken or concave in appearance. However, this method is less effective with more involved dents and creases.
Hot Glue and Pulling Sticks
Similar to kits used by professionals, using hot glue and a wooden dowel is another do-it-yourself method for repairing a dent. Though a bit more taxing, the process is somewhat effective. Place hot glue over the area of the dent, and place the dowels on the glued area. Allow the glue to set up. The placement of the dowels allows you to pull on the various sections of the dent. Pulling should be straight out and at an angle to detach the dowels. A hairdryer can be used to soften and remove the glue.
Filling and Painting
One of the more difficult and time-consuming methods for fixing a fender bender is through using body filler on the area in question and repainting it once you repair the damage. Body filler is used to build the dented and creased areas back to their original profiles. The area where you will do the work should be clean and dry. In addition to the body filler, you’ll need sandpaper (both wet and dry), cutting or rubbing compound polish, and paint. This method is a step-by-step process that relies on completing each step carefully to avoid imperfections with the filler, the sanding, the polishing, and the final layer of paint, which you need to match to the vehicle’s original color carefully. This method is effective, though difficult.
Hot and Cold Air Use
Hot and cold air can work reasonably well on fender benders. Use a heat gun or hair dryer to heat the area of the dent. Once it is heated, freeze the area with compressed air. The expansion of the heat will expand the area while the cold contracts and diminishes it, which will help pull out the dent. This method works best on more superficial dents in body panels made of plastic, though it can work on metal panels as well. It’s not a perfect method, and the dents may reoccur with weather changes.
Fender benders are never fun and can ruin the appearance and possible safety of a vehicle. Do-it-yourself techniques are great to have at your disposal, but they aren’t always going to give you a showroom appearance. You also want to make sure that those dents, deep creases, and scratches aren’t causing any mechanical problems before you dive into the do-it-yourself scene. If you want more than quick fixes, complete the online contact form, and a qualified professional will get back to you with the information you need to make an informed decision concerning your fender bender.