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  1. #1
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    Car dent repair question

    So I tried to do a sharp u-turn around a parking garage column that didn't go so well...Luckily I was able to wash off most of the initial "damage" on the door and saw that most of it was scraped-off paint from the column and there's no damage to my door at all, not even a scratch in the paint.

    However, there's a really deep dent and a corresponding scratch on the body just to the side of the rear passenger door. This scratch is all the way down to the metal and some paint is already peeling from it. Plus, the door has separated a little from the panel attached on top. That panel (the extra bit that runs across it horizontally) also may have a deep scratch but I wasn't able to clean it thoroughly enough to see.

    I did a bit of reading around online and apparently scratch repairs on doors and their panels are super-expensive because usually body shops remove the door to repaint the entire thing to make sure the color is even. I don't particularly care about my car's paint matching (it's only a year old but I'm not planning to sell it), and I don't believe having someone else repair a scratch warrants even one full week of my salary (if it's gonna cost $600 or more), so I plan to fix the scratch myself. Apparently it's not that hard even when the scratch is deep, I just need the right supplies and some patience. I'm not too worried about immediate corrosion because I cover my car when parking it at my apartment every day.

    However, I'm not sure if I should repair the structural damage. The dent isn't THAT noticeable and I can open that door fine. I'm a little concerned about the panel separation. It doesn't flap in the wind or anything, it's just separated at the door's edge by about 1-2 millimeters. I don't know if that's important for structural safety. If it is, I'll take it to a body shop to get fixed. I just wanted to get some opinions. Obviously, having to get your car fixed sucks and it sucks even more when it's only the exterior and it's expensive all the same, haha.

    Obviously I don't think this warrants getting my insurance involved. Since it was my fault, I'd expect my premiums to go up if I filed a claim on it. Plus I'd be able to afford such a repair, it's just that I would like not to pay for repair that's not necessary for the function or the safety of my car...

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

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    You might want to consider calling your insurance company and checking with them as to whether your premiums would go up if you were to file a claim over this. It may be that a small claim like that would not cause you a problem, assuming you are already in good standing with them. I had a minor fender bender 5 or 6 years ago, and was sued by the other driver (who subsequently settled) and my rates never went up.

    As for the scratch, if you plan to keep your car a long time you really should get it fixed properly to avoid any future problems with corrosion. Cars rarely rust out these days due to the way they are painted in the factory and in repairs. Also, is your finish a solid color or a metallic or pearl type of finish (does it glitter in the sunlight)? Metallics or pearls are harder to repair. Plus, due to all the layers of paint on the car, it is very easy to see the repair if it's not done properly. For my job, I once took a course in this and actually did repair a big scratch on a car door. To do it properly, we had to take off about 3 inches of paint on either side of the scratch and then fill it in step by step. If it's not a solid color, you will probably be able to see that it was repaired if you do it yourself. I'm not sure about your question related to the structural damage.

    If you let me know where you are located, I might be able to recommend some shops to you if you choose to get it repaired by someone else.

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    I'd recommend against calling the insurance company. The accident will go against your claim history and, unless you have a very small deductible, will only pay out $100 or so.

    Instead, contact the closest vocational school. Ask to have it evaluated by their automotive students. This is exactly the type of repair they look for for their first and second year students, something that's intellectually challenging but doesn't impact the safety of the car.
    AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aceon6 View Post
    I'd recommend against calling the insurance company. The accident will go against your claim history and, unless you have a very small deductible, will only pay out $100 or so.
    I'd say that depends on your insurance company a bit. My insurance company is absolutely fantastic, and I have no hesitation in calling them to ask about "what if" claims. They won't consider it a claim unless I state I'm "officially" filing a claim. If I was in this predicament, I would call my insurance provider to ask some questions, but again, it's because I trust them based on the relationship I've had with them in the past.

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    I had something similar happen this past summer. One of the gas station short steel post lane divider things somehow hit my back passenger door! Anyway there weren't any paint scratches but there was a dent, so I went to the dealer and asked for their opinion and they sent me to one of their recommended body shops to see if it was worth it to file a claim. In the end they told me it was worth it based on the facts that that it was a European vehicle and because the job would include having to take off the door and panel over the wheel well to check for internal structural damage so the costs would exceed my deductible. My vehicle is a 2006. I had had a clean record though until that point.

    Aceon6's vocational school idea sounds like a great idea since you aren't too worried about it and had thought about fixing it yourself, though. Your car is only a year old though and you never know what may have happened underneath. Good luck!

  6. #6

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    There are places that use a type of suction cup that just pulls the dent out instead of redoing the whole door. Much cheaper and more convenient. Someone at work here did it when they went to sell their car.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by zhenya271 View Post
    I had something similar happen this past summer. One of the gas station short steel post lane divider things somehow hit my back passenger door! Anyway there weren't any paint scratches but there was a dent, so I went to the dealer and asked for their opinion and they sent me to one of their recommended body shops to see if it was worth it to file a claim. In the end they told me it was worth it based on the facts that that it was a European vehicle and because the job would include having to take off the door and panel over the wheel well to check for internal structural damage so the costs would exceed my deductible. My vehicle is a 2006. I had had a clean record though until that point.

    Aceon6's vocational school idea sounds like a great idea since you aren't too worried about it and had thought about fixing it yourself, though. Your car is only a year old though and you never know what may have happened underneath. Good luck!
    Yeah, the problem is there are no vocational schools around here that do body work. Mostly they do engines and internal stuff.

    I called my mom to ask her advice and she was just like, "Get some touchup paint and cover it. If it peels, touch it up again." Oh, my frugal, frugal mom...

    To top it off, my car's tire sensors went off this morning and it turns out all my tires are at a lower-than-optimal psi. Apparently my car is fairly upset with me these past few days.

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