Where should you go, for which type of damage to your car??
Go to the wrong place, and you might as well just open up your wallet and give them what you have, or drive away with your car looking much worse than it did.
From my experience, many people immediately think ‘body shop’ as soon as something happens to your car, or worse, they think ‘car dealership.’
I’ll start with the car dealership. Car dealerships have alliances with body shops, sometimes they are even on the same premises, but are usually different companies. If you take your damaged car their, you are really going to a body shop, but the dealership will mark up the price to make a little profit for themselves.
Bodyshops fix major to moderate damage. Anytime the original form of the metal or plastic is damaged, it most certainly needs a body shop if you want it to look new again. For very light scrapes along a bumper, or less so, with a side panel a mobile ‘bumper guy’ will be fine. In general any vertical surface can be resprayed by a mobile professional. The reason for this is that dust settles on horizontal surfaces. To get a good paint job on a hood for example, it would need to be done in a spray booth to reduce particulates from settling and ruining the newly painted surface. Bumpers don’t have that issue and you can generally get a good paint job. There are exceptions where a bumper would need to be removed and sprayed separately to get a good final paint job.
Also many damaged areas can be ‘spot sprayed’ by a mobile professional. Little scrapes, can be sanded down and resprayed. If you’re going this route, make sure the guy has experience! In general the lighter the color, the harder it is to match. Bright silver is the most difficult. If your spray gun is 6 inches away from the car, versus 18 inches, you’ll get a different color, or if it’s pointed at the car an angle versus straight on, you’ll get a slightly different color. If that happens, your bumper won’t match the fender.
The next smaller issue is very minor scratches, and paint chips. Paint chips are generally on the hood and front bumper and are caused by flying rocks. The next most common place is door edges, mirrors, and chipped paint from other peoples doors and stray shopping carts. A good paint touch up guy can fix most of these issues, but this is no longer an objective practice. Meaning, we (I’m a paint chip technician) only make things look better. If you want it to look new, have it resprayed (which is many times more expensive). We also see a lot of scrapes along bumpers from hitting tall curbs, or scraping the side of your garage as you pull out. This can often be patched up for a fraction of the cost of a bumper respray, but it’s only going to make it less unsightly.
The other area is minor dents. This is also most commonly a mobile service. The price for a dent is about $75. Please make sure your guy has at least 10 years of experience. There’s a lot of people that try to get into this industry to make a fast buck but soon learn that it’s not easy to do without ruining a lot of cars. It is an art. Don’t let some guy working at a car wash do it. If he’s there, it’s because he can’t find work! Find someone at a high end car dealership. That goes for the other vendors. In general, if we aren’t good at what we do, we don’t eat. We make the most money at dealerhips because of the volume, and they don’t tolerate incompetence.
I can go on at length giving you more info, but this should suffice for now. If you have any questions about where you should take your care, please email me a picture of your car at firstname.lastname@example.org or text me at 949/463-7690. Please refrain from calling. I’m very personable, but get distracted from my work when I have to answer the phone.
ps. Don’t ever use a paint pen!! It’s nothing more than an income stream for the dealership. There’s not real concern for you about how it’ll look on your car!!
Be well and happy.
aka Quinn The Eskimo
“Life is as you decide – and if this does not seem so, it is you who has decided it so.” SRB