Auto Body Repair – Does Bumper Repair Have to Be So Expensive?

There’s a very good chance that you have damaged the bumper on your car at some point in your driving career. Your bumpers are the most exposed parts of your car. They’re the most likely to be damaged. And…they’re designed to be repaired quickly and easily.

There’s also a very good chance that something much worse than having your bumpers damaged has happened to you: you almost certainly have overpaid by as much as double to have those bumpers repaired.

Body shops have two solutions to bumper repair: repaint the whole bumper (if the paint is damaged but it isn’t misshapen) or replace it (if the bumper has been cut, dented, or misshapen). There’s one option that they almost never consider: repair and repaint just the area that has been damaged.

When I owned a body shop I was shocked at how many healthy bumpers with minor damage (bumper rash on the corners, a dent with no paint damage, scratches across the face) were removed and discarded by body shops. The body shops were more than happy to toss bumpers that were 90% brand new because they could mark up the cost of the new bumper to the customer. And they were just as happy to paint the entire bumper for small scratches and scrapes covering just 10 – 20% of its surface area because the paint, primer, labor were all marked up as well. In sum, the tactic of body shops is to make jobs as large as possible because bigger jobs yield bigger profits, and it’s not the customer that’s paying…it’s the insurance company (don’t fall for that–you pay and then some over time when they increase your rates slowly). The average bumper repaint is about $450. A replacement is usually $800.

There is a sub-industry that car dealers use but the public is mostly ignorant of: the spot repair business. Spot repair techs specialize in bumper repairs. They can reshape, refill, recolor, and re-clear almost any bumper that doesn’t have damage done to the tabs that attach it to the car (that’s 80% of bumper damage, by the way). Contrary to what body shops will tell you, bumpers can be fixed, and just the area that has been damaged can be painted. This does require some skill. The painter must know how to properly scuff beyond the damaged area, blend in the paint, and apply the clearcoat so that the repair is undetectable.

What’s the average charge for a corner scuff, the most common of all bumper repairs? About $250. And here’s a HUGE bonus: most spot repair techs are mobile. That means they come to your home or office. A bumper corner can be sanded, primed, painted, and cured within 90 – 120 minutes. Ask your local car dealers for their “bumper repair guy.” There’s many in your area doing work you just didn’t know existed for prices and convenience that you would be silly to ignore.

Why Is Dent Repair So Expensive?

No matter how safely you drive or how well you treat your car, at some point you will need to have a dent repaired. It could be from road debris bouncing up onto your hood, Collision Repair, hail, or Auto Body repair due to an unforeseen accident but there is no way around it. There is, however, a way around paying too much for the repair work and getting a substandard result. It is a process called is called Paintless Dent Removal.

The standard way to repair a dent is to first remove the paint from the target area. Then the technician will make a small hole in the center of the dent and pull the metal outward. After that you have to fill in the hole and repaint the area. There are two problems with this system:

1. It takes a long time. The dent can be pulled out relatively quickly but the paint job takes time. In many cases the customer will want the entire car to be repainted because the new paint job will not match the manufacturers paint job so the repair will stand out. The manufacturers paint job is always of a much higher quality so local shops cannot match it exactly. Over time, the paint on your car has a tendency to fade.

2. The cars new paint job will not look as good as it originally did. Have you ever noticed how nice and glossy new cars look? The manufacturers have access to paint and machinery that local shops cannot match so if you have to repaint your car in order to fix a dent then you are taking a big step down in aesthetics. The only chance that the paint will come close to matching is if the auto stayed waxed really good and garage kept.

Paintless Dent Repair has quickly become the most popular alternative to use in Auto Body Repair. There are a few situations in which you cannot use Paintless Dent Repair though. As long as the paint has not been damaged and the metal is still flexible, Paintless Dent Removal can be used. In a lot of ways it is the opposite of traditional dent removal because tools are used to push the metal back into place from the inside of the car body. Then a small hammer is used to gently tap the outside of the metal and smooth out any wrinkles or inconsistencies in the metal body. Since it doesn’t require a repaint you save a lot of time and money but the best part of Paintless Dent Removal is that you can retain your manufacturers finish. Be careful when choosing a Collision Repair tech to do Paintless Dent Removal. If they do not really know their craft then they can accidentally split the metal while trying to beat it back into shape. Check with your local body shop to see if this service is offered. It is a great way to go.