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How to Repair a Bumper Scratch

August 27, 2021 4 min read

How to Repair a Bumper Scratch

Minor bumper scratches happen all the time, whether you've accidentally backed into a pole or another driver hit your rear bumper. If you’re not bothered by minor scratches, cosmetic damage can be left alone. 

But if you want to protect your vehicle's resale value and restore the original look of your car or truck, it's best to simply repair it. You can fix bumper scratches at a repair shop, but it’s easy enough to do on your own at home.

Repairing Your Minor Bumper Scratch

Typically, repairing a bumper scratch doesn't require a full replacement of the bumper. Small chips and scratches are usually purely cosmetic and often, only requiretouch-up paint to fix. You can do most bumper scratch repairs right in your own driveway.

Bumper Scratch Repair at a Body Shop

Is it worth it to get your bumper scratch repaired at a body shop? Though your repair may only require a few paintbrush strokes and not much more, touch-up paint is expensive and so is labor at a repair shop. 

Small bumper scratch repairs will typically be at least $100 and may be as much as $500 if the damage is more extensive, even for plastic bumpers. If the shop has a backlog of work, they may need to keep your car for a few days, and you'll need a rental to get around. 

At that point, it might be worth it just to get a newbumper cover. For many car owners, the expense and hassle of a simple car bumper scratch repair is just too much to take on at a body shop -- especially when you can do it yourself at home for next to nothing.

Do It Yourself Bumper Scratch Repair

While some car owners may feel more comfortable having a professional handle scratch repair, this is a job that you can do at home in just an hour or two. Most touch-up paint will cost about $50, saving you potentially hundreds.

  • Find your VIN: In scratch repair, matching the paint to your vehicle is essential. Look up your VIN when ordering touch-up paint or a can of spray paint, as this will ensure that you receive the color of paint that matches your vehicle's original color. Guessing is not recommended – you want the matching shade for your vehicle’s paint code for a good match.
  • Tape off areas that should not be painted: If you're using spray paint, some overspray can spread beyond the repair area. Be sure to use masking tape to tape off lights, chrome accents, and any other parts that should not be painted outside the damaged area.
  • Lightly sand the damage: Sometimes, scratches can leave a bit of a groove or rough paint, so it's best to start with a bit of sandpaper to smooth it all out, even on painted plastic. Your sanding paper should be fine grit; a 400-grit paper should do it. Just be sure not to do too much, as you'll need to paint back over it, and you don't want to have to paint a large area -- this is a simple touch-up job.
  • Fill in scratches with putty: You may find that some scratches will not sand out. If this is the case, use a scratch filling putty or rubbing compound to even out the damage and lay a smooth foundation for new paint. Be sure to give it time to harden, then sand it down until it's uniform with the rest of your bumper.
  • Wash and dry your vehicle: Either wash your entire vehicle or simply the affected area using a surface cleaner to give the paint a clean slate to stick to. Use a wax and grease remover to prep the area for paint. You'll also need to completely wipe the area dry where you'll be painting. Washing and drying will help avoid imperfections.
  • Apply primer: If you're painting a large surface, be sure to apply a layer of primer that will level and protect your paint and make it easier to apply the base coat. Sand the primer lightly until it feels smooth.
  • Apply touch-up paint: You can either brush on touch-up paint or use a touch-up paint pen to fill in the area that needs repair. More extensive damage may require spray paint. Work slowly, and remember that it's always easy to add paint, but it’s not as easy to remove.
  • Apply a layer of clear coat: If you've painted a large area, add a layer of clear coat to protect your vehicle's finish.
  • Allow the paint to dry, then wax: Add a protective seal to your new touch-up job with a layer of vehicle wax. Of course, you should be sure to allow the paint to dry before you get started waxing.

Have you successfully repaired a bumper scratch? Send us photos, and we'll share your excellent repair!