Cheap and cheerful fixes for a sideswiped car
January 2, 2009 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Car filter: my car got sideswiped on New Year's Eve. Need some direction on what types of places can fix what's broken and/or suggestions on ways to do so.

Despite moving the car deliberately out of what we thought was harm's way, some idiot sideswiped my car overnight on New Year's Eve.

Disclaimer: I am a car idiot. We have a good mechanic and a good exhaust person and a good body work person (it's a city car that's 10 years old) but I am never sure who to take the car to for what and taking my car to the garage always involves having to come in late/leave early from work so I'd like to know where to go instead of guessing.

1) The driver's side mirror was smashed. The mirror is gone but the casing holding the mirror is still attached, but the attachment area has broken. It is still in place on the car at the same level that it would be normally but pushed all the way back. Does this make sense? It is NOT a power mirror.

a) do I need to replace the whole thing or is it repairable?
b) what kind of place would I take this to? our mechanic or the body shop?
c) Can we source the mirror ourselves and bring it to someone to install?
d) ballpark on what this would cost? It is a 1999 Pontiac vehicle.

2) They also scraped the panel just above the rear wheel on the driver's side. The scrape is not that bad and the dent is not worth fixing. However, there is a scrape and I was always taught the issue with scrapes is that it removes paint and leaves the body susceptible to rust. I've put a lot of work into keeping my car maintained and want it to last me as long as possible.

a) is the 'susceptible to rust' thing true, and if so, how true
b) is there some way I can make the scraped areas (mostly along the rim above the wheel) less susceptible to rust, without having to pay someone to do it? It doesn't have to be pretty.
c) if not, what can i tell a body shop i want them to do and what should it cost?
posted by micawber to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If the metal is showing, put some touch-up. If you don't see metal, it's not going to rust.

As for the mirror, I knew car washes that wouldn't allow late-90's Pontiacs through, since the mirrors were held on so poorly. It's a very common part. Your mechanc should be able to get this part -the whole mirror assembly - and put in on in a matter of minutes (it's not even in the book for labor times, it's so easy). Couple hundred bucks, tops.
posted by notsnot at 9:53 AM on January 2, 2009

1. You'll probably have to replace the whole thing as a unit. I replaced one for a friend last week (electrics and all) and it's largely just a matter of prising off the door trim at one end and taking out a couple of bolts. Replacement takes about 10 mins. As it's an old car, who not look for someone breaking a similar car on eBay? You'll probably pay less than $20.

2. Scratches do tend to lead to rust, especially if you don't treat them early. Get a can of matching paint, some primer (preferably one with zinc that helps prevent rust) and a couple of grades of fine abrasive paper. And maybe some filler if you have a small dent or a deep scratch. Look up one of the many guides to painting a car on the internets. You basically just sand it down a bit, mask off the areas you don't want to paint with tape and newspaper, then apply a couple of coats of primer, sanding very lightly each time, then two or three coats of colour. Finish off by blending in with a bit of car polish if there's an obvious colour difference. The whole thing can be done in a couple of hours on a dry day.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 9:54 AM on January 2, 2009

You'll have to replace the whole mirror. I had to replace my passenger side mirror last year, and I bought the part online for about $50 (it's a power mirror). My mechanic put it on for me, and it cost me about $35. It's the same as my driver's side mirror, and you'd never guess I had to replace it. It moves like it should and all that.

If you trust your mechanic, you could have him do the whole deal for you. But it wouldn't hurt to browse online for the part--you could save a lot of money. I was quoted nearly $200 for a body shop (recommended to me by my mechanic, who felt the body shop would do a better job) to procure the part and put it on!
posted by catwoman429 at 10:39 AM on January 2, 2009

Since you say you already have a good body person, that's where you should take it. What you describe is typical light collision damage. That's pretty much bread-and-butter to body guys.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:47 AM on January 2, 2009

thanks, all. we're going to order the part and take it to our mechanic, since he's offered to do something similar in the past. the scratches are ugly and sad but not down to the metal.
posted by micawber at 9:10 PM on January 3, 2009

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