The thing that I see the most is bumper scrapes, mostly from hitting high curbs. With a push over the years for MPG, manufactures lower the front bumpers closer and closer to the ground.
It takes very little to damage your car – you are in essence, driving your car into the equivalent of sand paper. Depending on how much plastic is removed by your kissing of the curb, you can either have the bumper touched up, or if you’d like it to look new again it would need to be sanded down and resprayed. The cost to respray a bumper is about $250 to $600 depending on where you go.
A mobile bumper guy can do a really good job for $250. It’ll take him an hour or so, and he’ll come to you. A bodyshop will take the bumper off, sanded and down, and then spray it in a clean room (probably with other car panels). Unless the plastic is badly damaged, i.e. a whole in it, or so much plastic scraped away that it can be smoothed out)
Considering that this happens to most bumpers, you’re much better off just getting the bumper touched-up. If it’s close to the ground, its pretty easy to hide with touch-up paint. The higher up, the harder it gets to hide. Also the darker the color, the easier it is to hide.
I would highly recommend using the Dr.Colorchip paint system. If you insist on using the touchup paint from a dealership, make sure you thin out the paint. Pour some in a little paper cup (I use the little cups used for ketchup at fast food restaurants), and then thin it out with acetone. I’d also use a 1/4″ brush from a craft store. Don’t use the brush that comes with the kit (at least not for a bumper scrape).
When you’re applying the paint – think of Tom Sawyer and white washing the fence. You just want to put a ‘wash of color’ over the scrape. Each time you apply, put the paint on a little thicker. Make sure you wait until its dry. If you use to much acetone on the secondary coats, the thinner will wipe away your first coat.
And this is an aside, but I wanted to mention this, because I have a surprising number of people ask me to fix the scrape on their bumper so it won’t rust. I do what I can to make it look better, but it’s never gonna rust. Sorry. I know I’ve broken some key beliefs you’ve had, but plastic doesn’t rust.
When you’re done applying paint it may still look rough, especially if the curb that you kissed was rough. If you were to sand paper it first it would make it much harder to get paint to sit in the scrape, and you’re very likely to damage the surrounding good paint, if you use sandpaper.
If you’ve hit something higher up, like a pole, or a wall edge and the bumper is scraped, it much less effective to use touchup. You make it look different, not better.
It’s very often the case, that what you’ve hit, has simply rubbed off on your car. This is called transfer. Some simple rubbing compound will take it off. DO NOT USE A SCOTCH BRITE PAD FROM THE KITCHEN. The paint surface on your car is very sensitive. It’s made to look pretty – it’s fairly fragile.
I often will spend an hour buffing out an area where someone used their fingernail to scratch off what was simply bug poop.
The point being that even your fingernail will scratch the surface.
I could go on and on about little tips. I think I’ll start adding photos to show you what I did to fix it.
And please, if you’d like advice about your car, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or text them to me at 949/463-7690
See my Yelp for details about what I do. 🙂