Are my car's dents worth fixing?
June 23, 2008 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Are my car's dents worth fixing?

I have a lot of dents on my 2002 Honda Civic from living in Chicago. I've since moved to an area that is much easier on vehicles. A reputable body shop gave me an estimate of $2100 to make it look like new. The dents are all cosmetic but make my car look terrible for a vehicle that's only 6 years old.

So, is it worth it? I plan on holding on to this car for at least another 3 or 4 years. Yes, I'll mentally feel better driving a car that doesn't look like a POS, but financially, does cosmetic body work translate into better resale value down the line or would this just be a sunk cost?
posted by aliasless to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If your dents are door dings or medium-large creases, try consulting a PDR (paintless dent repair) specialist. They work wonders and are relatively inexpensive compared to a body shop.
posted by wongcorgi at 2:35 PM on June 23, 2008

>financially, does cosmetic body work translate into better resale value down the line

Every time, yes.

But will the difference equate $2100? With low miles, it might. As it gets up there around 130-200k miles, probably not.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 2:36 PM on June 23, 2008

You can have a paintless dent repair service take out those dents that they can easily remove and leave the rest. It'll cost far less and won't disturb--break--the original factory paint film. Usually a body shop will approach as a repair and paint process and avoiding paintwork is a good idea if you can.
posted by bz at 2:40 PM on June 23, 2008

dude, if they're just dings that you want to pop out, on a hot summer day, get dry ice. Place dry ice on door ding. Watch as metal contracts, and BAM!!!! ding is removed.
posted by unexpected at 2:42 PM on June 23, 2008

Response by poster: These are mostly chunky, "my bumper is now concave" type dents with pieces of nearby metal panelling bent inwards and scratched. Aggressive parallel-parking type dents. So, I think that PDR is out of the question.
posted by aliasless at 3:29 PM on June 23, 2008

I actually had some fun(?) pulling off my front bumper and pulling out a bent-in panel corner, then reinstalling the bumper. I don't think it impacted (pun intended) my resale value much, but it was good for getting out aggression, and it's always fun to learn how to take something apart and put it back together. If I were you, I'd spend a weekend trying that.
posted by davejay at 3:51 PM on June 23, 2008

the point being that if you enjoy giving it a try, and it ends up costing you nothing to fix some of the dents, then you end up ahead if the resale is improved by even a little bit.
posted by davejay at 3:52 PM on June 23, 2008

One way to get an answer for this is to check the car's value via Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds, etc., and compare the value as-is and after the fixes.

Just for fun, I looked at KBB, and assumed that your car was a Civic LX with 60,000 miles, automatic transmission, and had the standard equipment assumed by that website. It gave a private party value of $10,010 for excellent condition, and $8,485 for "fair," and had no information for a car in "poor" condition. With those big Chicago dents, your car might fall between fair and poor, which suggests that right now getting the dents fixed probably makes economic sense; whether that will still be the case in five years when you sell it is a different question.

Anecdotally, what I have seen is that people with cars in good cosmetic condition are more willing to keep them running another year, which is definitely cheaper than buying new cars more often. My guess is that is because a nice-looking car is more of a pleasure to drive than a real junker, and fixing little things more often can prevent needing to fix big things that make you want to sell the car. So if that is the case for you (and there are many, many people who are exceptions to that little rule), then it definitely makes sense to fix the dents, over and above the resale value question.
posted by Forktine at 4:03 PM on June 23, 2008

In general, you don't get back the money you invest into a car. You will increase the value, but I don't know if I've ever seen a case where it is economically the correct thing to do. A car is a depreciating asset, too, so 3-4 years from now, the difference in value will certainly be less than $2100. If you do it, do it for yourself and forget about trying to justify it economically.
posted by knave at 7:31 PM on June 23, 2008

I should qualify that, I'm talking about paying for body work, specifically. Getting a car into mechanically good condition is generally a good investment. Perfecting the body is usually not, unless you can do it yourself.
posted by knave at 7:32 PM on June 23, 2008

Given that your plan is to sell the car when it's ten years old, I'd be surprised if a $2100 investment in cosmetic damage is going to pay for itself. Sure, your car will sell for more, but $2100 more?
posted by zippy at 10:33 PM on June 23, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks to all. I'm going to fix it.
posted by aliasless at 12:31 PM on June 24, 2008

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