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Can I fix a scuffed bumper?
November 1, 2008 3:03 PM   Subscribe

Somebody loaned me their car for a week. I managed to ding the bumper. Help me figure out if this is something I can fix myself or if I need to take it to a body shop. Pictures inside.

I have scratched/scuffed the paint on the bumper of a burgrandy '91 Camaro. This piece appears to be PVC plastic. What's the best way to make this go away as much as it can without wasting money? A detailing shop here in the Portland area says they can fix it in a few hours by refinishing the bumper for $250, so that is the benchmark.

The car is in average condition and this doesn't need to be wonderful, we just need to get this a bit less immediately noticeable. These aren't particularly great pictures. I'm hoping that by showing how it changes when wet as opposed to dry it can make obvious what kind of damage we're talking about.

Bumper, wet
Bumper, dry

I consider myself capable of doing any sort of repair that you could expect a reasonably intelligent "handy" 21 year old to be capable of. I'm kind of hoping there's some magic way around paint. The 50% of it that disappears just because it's wet gives me hope I can at least help that part. Remember, this is plastic, not metal. At least from some cursory googling it appears I can't buff it out.
posted by floam to Grab Bag (19 answers total)
 
If you want to keep this person as a friend, take the car to a body shop. That the car's a beater is immaterial because it is their beater.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:11 PM on November 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


that is not a little scrape. it being plastic and red paint - take it to the body shop, or show your friend and offer them the 250 bucks.
posted by nadawi at 3:15 PM on November 1, 2008


Inspector Gadget has the best answer. It's not your car, your friend lent it to you and you messed it up. Have a pro fix it. (As for fixing it yourself--you could probably make it look better, but it will never look as good. Fine if it's your car, but it's not.)
posted by Jemstar at 3:16 PM on November 1, 2008


Oh, I shouldn't have even mentioned the lending. I'm working with a close family member and she knows all about it.
posted by floam at 3:16 PM on November 1, 2008


take it to the body shop! no one drives a 91 camaro cause it just happens to be some beater that came along, they drive it cause they love it (and cause they're a hillbilly)
posted by Salvatorparadise at 3:17 PM on November 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Trust me here, let's just assume it's my car and everything I'm saying is valid. This person was given this car recently, this person does not like it, this person also has some interesting car-debt things going on with me that make it okay that we don't get this bumper back to factory condition.
posted by floam at 3:20 PM on November 1, 2008


Try scrubbing it with a plastic scouring sponge and some soap and water. I've had several scrapes on my bumper that, for the most part, were significantly diminished with a little elbow grease.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 3:26 PM on November 1, 2008


If I were the owner, I would appreciate it if you were to tell me what happened and then give me the the option of some cash compensation or a formal estimate from a body shop. In my case, I would decline both and simply live with the ding but I recognize that not everyone is as unconcerned about this sort of thing. It's only cosmetic but an amateur is only going to end up- with an amateurish job on something like that.
posted by Neiltupper at 3:30 PM on November 1, 2008


If it were my car, I'd say, "meh, buy me a case of beer and we'll call it even." If I were to try to minimize it, I would go to an auto parts store and get the spray paint for that color. Most likely, the paint color's name is printed on the interior of one of the door frames. For cars of that age, it's never an exact match, but it's good enough.
posted by advicepig at 4:21 PM on November 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


If I were the owner, I would appreciate it if you were to tell me what happened and then give me the the option of some cash compensation or a formal estimate from a body shop.

I agree, don't spend that kind of money without running it past your friend first.

If I were driving a '91 car, and the person that dinged it was a good friend, I probably would just live with the ding.
posted by jayder at 4:23 PM on November 1, 2008


We lent our '81 Mazda ute to a friend, who banged it into the corner of a square pillar in an underground parking lot and put a huge dent in the side right behind the door.

The dent was just far enough back not to affect the door seal or stop the door latch from working. She was very apologetic and offered to have it fixed. We declined her offer and just drove it like that until we scrapped the car years later. We're still good friends.

Listen to Neiltupper.
posted by flabdablet at 5:19 PM on November 1, 2008


"this person also has some interesting car-debt things going on with me" and now you have some interesting debt things going on with them. I assume you do not want this person to decide, without consulting you, how to best handle those debt things going on with you?

Neiltupper has the correct approach.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:46 PM on November 1, 2008


It looks like the scratches are through the clear coat, and the gray areas indicate that they are through the red paint and into the primer. You won't be able to repair those areas without repainting. But I think you can get it into the condition pictured in the "wet" picture by yourself.

I would try my hand at wet sanding, polishing, and then reapplying the clear coat with the caveat that if you make it worse you can always get it done at a body shop. Use a very fine wet sand paper and gently remove the clear coat in an even fashion (here are instructions), and then use a rubbing compound to polish it. Next, you can either get a high quality spray paint clear coat, or take it to a body shop and have them clear coat it. This should make it look as good as it does in the "wet" picture.

Two Hundred and fifty dollars is very unreasonable for the kind of repair you need. I think a decent body shop should be able to spot repair the bumper for under a hundred dollars in a few hours, something akin to this video. Honestly, if it were me I might consider this route. I bet you can call around and find a place that will accommodate you. I think the main problem will be matching the color. I'm not sure if Chevy's have a paint code on them somewhere (under the hood somewhere, or in the door sill), but you can probably contact the dealer and get the code fairly quickly.
posted by luckypozzo at 5:57 PM on November 1, 2008


"this person also has some interesting car-debt things going on with me" and now you have some interesting debt things going on with them. I assume you do not want this person to decide, without consulting you, how to best handle those debt things going on with you?
I thought I made it clear that the family member that this car belongs to is well aware of what is going on. We're working on it right now. By me trying to cheaply get it as good as I can.

You people are a really trying too hard here to come up with some ethics problems to address when I just had a question about body work.
posted by floam at 6:14 PM on November 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


My brother once took care of a scrape on a rental car by applying furniture polish to it, and the result was as dramatic as the difference between your 'wet' and 'dry' photos. I don't know if that would damage the paint beyond that so a test in an inconspicuous spot would be prudent. But as others have said, it's unlikely you'll get it much better than the 'wet' picture.
posted by mattholomew at 6:29 PM on November 1, 2008


You people are a really trying too hard here to come up with some ethics problems to address when I just had a question about body work.

Floam -- Is there something wrong with the way I'm viewing AskMe, or did you mark your own followups as "best answer"?

It appears to me that you marked your followups as best-answer, so I assumed they were someone else's answers and didn't read them. So I missed that you had clarified the knowledge/involvement of the car owner.
posted by jayder at 6:37 PM on November 1, 2008


Yes, just after I made that last comment I went through and marked them as best answer in an attempt to "highlight" them and make them more obvious. I didn't mean to actually suggest I know better than anybody or to hide them from you. Just hoping more people would notice that there's real no moral dilemma here to help me through. I've unmarked them now.
posted by floam at 8:28 PM on November 1, 2008


I'm going to pay somebody to do it. Instead of calling dealerships, I just hopped on the services section of craigslist and there's a few people that do exactly this for $40-$50.
posted by floam at 10:43 PM on November 1, 2008


Before you try any of the above suggestions [or non-suggestions, of which you have many], try a very simple test:
rub [vigorously] with either a rag and rubbing alcohol or with [don't do this if this car is nicer than you say it is] a Magic Eraser.

I had a friend with a very very similar scuff on a POS station wagon, and the magic eraser got rid of 100% of the problem, kinda.
It got rid of the surface marks and the crazy solvents in there dissolved enough paint that the whole things blended into one slightly-lighter patch. It wasn't noticeable from more than a foot away.

I'm not an autobody specialist, but I *am* cheap, so ymmv.
posted by Acari at 11:12 PM on November 1, 2008


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