What's a car bumper worth?
August 14, 2019 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Last night getting off the train and arriving at my car, a women came up, explained she'd bumped us and showed us where on our car (2016 Mazda 3) it's on the side of the car but looks like it's on the panel that wraps around to the fender). I'm trying to figure out next steps and what something like this is actually worth.

She was quite polite, but did ask if we could resolve without insurance. What should I be looking at to figure out what to do? The ding looks to be the size of a pencil eraser, not great, but not a huge gash. I know replacing the bumper panel would likely be well beyond the limit of a few hundred bucks she was talking about, but am not sure if it's worth it.

I haven't really examined the dent yet (it was hot, I took down her contact info and said we'll chat later), but what should I look for to make sure it won't cause problems (rust?) last on down the line. As well is it worthwhile to see if there's a cover up product that will make it presentable? Or is replacing the panel really the only option?

My partner in our brief conversation about it came down on the side of getting it fixed back to what it was before it was hit, regardless of the cost to her, but I'm trying to sort through my feelings that it might be shitty to have her pay a bunch of money one way or the other for something that's potentially not a huge deal.

We do have comprehensive insurance with a 500 dollar deductible if it matters.
posted by Carillon to Human Relations (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Get an estimate from a body shop and share it with her. Once you have the estimate, you will have a better idea of where to go with this.

She gets a gold star for sticking around. A lot of folks would have left.
posted by mygoditsbob at 10:13 AM on August 14, 2019 [6 favorites]

1) Not exchanging insurance information and/or getting pictures or a police report might be something you regret.
2) Without pictures here it's hard for car people to comment based upon a description alone.
3) You mention wanting it fixed to what it was before and that's fair/normal though your next point of
4) "I'm trying to sort through my feelings that it might be shitty to have her pay a bunch of money one way or the other" is totally warranted because a tiny scratch or ding can surprise you if the panel needs replacement because it's essentially plastic that is non-repairable in and of itself or the fact that repainting the whole thing, rather than just touching up the ding itself, is often the only way a shop will stand behind their work.
5) The color match for a panel repaint/replacement may never be perfect even if you do get a reputable repair, or getting it to your satisfaction may be more trouble than it's worth so, be aware of that aspect as well.
6) Get a quote, it can't hurt at this point to get that further information into your mental calculations.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:16 AM on August 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

What is your plan for this car (keeping it until it falls apart, or selling it to buy a new one as soon as the loan is paid off)? Related, is it just a car, or is it your baby?

My cars are always just cars, and the intention is to drive them for a decade+ (my last car was 15 year old) until reliability becomes a factor, and then unload for maybe slightly more than it is worth as salvage as trade in for my next vehicle. I assume that over the next 8+ years I'll have my current car that it will get hit/bumped in parking lots by people who won't leave notes, so I don't sweat the small things even if I know who did cause the issue.

My wife's car is her baby. We just got back the quote from insurance, after someone scraped her car (with a small dent) in a parking lot, it will be over $3k to fix; versus the $1500 I guesstimated. She's gone to two autobody shops for quotes, and exchanged a number of phone calls and emails with insurance, police and even the owners of the lot this occured in for security camera footage to be made available to the police.

On RolandOfEld's points, issue 1) sometimes there's a few days for reporting to insurance/police - look in with your policy and the police now, rather than finding out you're past the deadline. 4) is a very valid point with many cars these days.
posted by nobeagle at 11:08 AM on August 14, 2019 [4 favorites]

a ding the size of a pencil eraser (on the end of the pencil i assume) is so negligible to not even be worth worrying about, unless it's all the way down to the metal. most cars are driving around with dents and dings from shopping carts and doors opening into them in the parking lot. are you a huge car person? would it be worth $500+ to you to fix a small ding, when another ding will pop up soon?
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:57 PM on August 14, 2019 [4 favorites]

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