It’s been a long day at work or school and you return to your car, parked where you left it in the lot, only to discover a ding. The law of civility would have the person responsible for such treachery wait around for you to get back, or at least leave a note, but we all know that’s not how things typically play out. Unless you live in the boonies and never have to park next to someone, it’s good to know how to reconcile this situation.
There are lots of body shops and dent repair professionals out there. The major difference among them is how they repair your car and how much money it will cost you — unless you got lucky and the driver at fault takes responsibility.
Working With Another Driver
Sometimes accidents occur on the road, or people are upstanding and will leave their contact info. If they’ve done that, you should hear from their insurance company, which will inform you about next steps to take in repairing the car. For now, let’s get back to our parked car collision scenario.
Fix the Dent Yourself
Is it a bad idea to attempt dent repair yourself? If you don’t know what you’re doing, then yes. If there’s no paint damage and your expectations about the end results are realistic, then go right ahead.
There are a number of ways to remove dents, many of which involve tools you probably have around the house. You can use a plunger, boiling water, a hair dryer and compressed air, or even your vacuum cleaner and a small pot. Most of these techniques are for removing dents from the plastic parts of a car’s bodywork, however, like your bumper.
Metal parts can be fixed at home sometimes too, by using dry ice or a special dent removal tool. Just make sure you aren’t leaving any of the metal unpainted. This could lead to damaging rust, a corrosive problem that can turn into an ongoing plague if you don’t treat it early.
Get Professional Help
When a job is too big to tackle on your own, it’s time to seek out a professional. There’s still hope of saving some money, however. Before you go to a major body shop, consult a paintless dent repair professional. These guys know how to use several of the techniques we covered earlier, and even a few more. Rates for paintless work are considerably cheaper than dealers and conventional body shops.
The only body work a paintless pro might not be able to handle is a large scratch or major accident work. In those cases, you might not have any choice but to go somewhere with the equipment to cut, drill and paint body panels.
It’s never fun seeing your prized car go under the knife, particularly when you’re paying for it. There are ways to lessen the pain, though, so before you pay a visit to the local collision repair shop, make sure you’ve done your homework to see if you can fix it yourself, or have the work done cheaper.
Scott Huntington is a writer and car fanatic from Harrisburg, PA.