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DIY plastic bumper repair
By David Maillie
It can happen to your car or truck literally anywhere.You park your car and lock it and then when you come out you see a scrape or ding in your bumper where another car backed up into you.The other car is no where to be found and your chances of finding the party at fault are near zero.To take it to a professional body shop and have the plastic bumper repaired and repainted can cost $500 to more than $1000 easily.The average insurance deductible is at least $500.So what is one to do?With the latest in aftermarket auto body repair products it is now an easily fixed DIY weekend project.
First, you need some plastic surface cleaner or solvent that will clean the surface of the blemished area and promote adhesion.In some cases you may find that the plastic surface cleaner or solvent (like lacquer thinner if your car has lacquer paint) will remove the paint scrape as it may only be from the other car.If that removes it and there is little damage left than you can stop there and just apply a little wax with a wet sponge and buff the area in question.
If you lap on too much of the flexible bumper filler you will create more work for yourself when it is dried and you need to sand it even.Basically, the reason you use flexible plastic body filler is that it will have some elasticity and not crack with slight movement as hard body fillers like basic Bondo will.Bumpers are flexible and just a slight bump or similar will cause hard body fillers to crack and fall off.They also do experience some slight flexing and movement just during regular use and highway speeds.So you have no alternative but to use a flexible filler made just for plastic bumper repairs.
After the bumper filler dries then you need to sand it to the exact contour of the bumper.For large areas it is best to use a small block sander as this will more evenly and uniformly remove the excess filler and retain the original shape that much better.Basically, block sanding will make the job that much faster.Usually you will start with a low or rougher grit sandpaper like 100 to 180 or so to remove the high ridges and excess.Then you will move to smoother grits like 300 to 500 to make it smoother and remove the scratches created by the rougher grit sandpaper.