women_on_wheels_fender_benders.jpgOften not quite serious enough to warrant calling in the police or even the insurance company, fender benders are nevertheless huge annoyances to anyone who drives a car. After all, we often love our cars enough to name them, so of course we’re going to be upset when a bit of a bump results in dents or scratches that mar the gleaming finish of our cars’ bodies.

Below are some tips on how to deal with damage from fender-benders:

Assess the damage.

First of all, run your fingertips over the affected area. This will give you an idea on how severe or light the damage is. If it’s paint or any other stain, the area is embossed to the touch. You can try and rub it with your fingertip, a piece of cloth, or your fingernail to see if it comes off. If the area is depressed, it’s most likely a scratch, chipped paint, a dent, or a combination of the three.

Repair chipped paint and deep scratches at a car shop.

For chips and deep scratches (it's considered deep if you can see the green or black undercoat), it usually takes P2,000 per panel at a reputable auto detailing shop.

Not sure what a panel is? If you break a car’s body down, you’ll see that it’s composed of several panels joined together. As an example, your front and rear bumpers are two separate panels. If the other car scratched your bumper, that’s P2,000. If the scratch extends from the bumper to the fender (the panel on top of the wheel), prepare yourself for P4,000. Note that these may be slightly higher or lower depending on the auto shop you go to, but P2,000 per panel is a fair estimate.

The reason why these are so expensive is because the whole panel needs to be taken out, sanded down to remove the coating, and then have the paint layers thinned out so the new paint will stick and become even. If your car is custom-colored, be prepared to shell out more since the shop will have to get the mix of paint right so the repaired panel will blend seamlessly with the rest of the body.

Buff away light scratches.

Light scratches can be buffed away, no sweat. Depending on how large the affected area is, this won’t cost more than P1,000. Remember that since service is done per panel, the cost will still be the same no matter how many scratches and paint chips you have, as long as they are all on the same panel.

Remove dents at auto shops.

For dents, there are many Paintless Dent Removal (PDR) shops around. Some casas offer this service for around P2,500. It’s a tad expensive, but they offer bundled rates for the first five or so dents, no matter where they are on the car. If you don’t have the budget, there are many roadside shops that specialize in this sort of problem. They will hammer out the dent from the inside of the car as best they can. This will cost less, tip included, but you’re running the risk of harming the surrounding area of your car (from the elements) in the future.

Rub off paint residue from the other car.

If you were in a two-car fender-bender and you see that you got some of the other car’s paint on your car that refuses to come off, trying using a rubbing compound. It’s a white, grainy paste that comes in a small tub, and you can buy it in any car supply store. With a damp rag, apply a small amount of the compound to the affected area and rub firmly and slowly. The grit will remove most, if not all, of the discoloration without harming your car’s coating and paint. Of course, you’d still want to ask for some money from the person who did this to your car (assuming it's his or her fault and not yours). Try asking for a manageable amount, like P1,000, and negotiate from there. After all, you did spend for the rubbing compound you’re going to use later, right?

Any accident, whether major or fender-bender, is a big hassle for everyone involved. Try to be aware of your surroundings at all times and be sure to keep your car regularly maintained to make sure you won’t be the cause of the accident. You may also want to check out our tips on being a responsible car owner.

(Photo by Shuets Udono via Commons.WikiMedia.org)

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