Repairing A Scratched Bumper

While camping at Pismo Beach this summer I backed into the wooden rail that lined our campsite. Not hard enough to dent the bumper, but hard enough to scratch off a good chunk of paint. Faced with a $500 insurance deductible I, after some consulting with my son, decided to attempt the repair myself.  I had never done any automotive body repair or painting before. But he convinced that with the proper supplies and a little “self training” I could do it. And he was right!

He recommended products from automotivetouchup.com plus they have good information on their website, including a collection of short how-to videos. So I decided to go with them for supplies.

Supplies

Here was my order from automotivetouchup.com:

  • 12oz Aerosol Spray Paint, 2006 Honda Pilot: Taffeta White NH578
  • 12oz Aerosol White Sandable Acrylic Lacquer Primer
  • 12 oz Aerosol High Gloss Clear Coat
  • 12 oz Aerosol Plastic Parts Adhesion Promoter
  • Assorted Wet Sandpaper Pack (180/320/600/1000/1500)
  • Grey Fine Scuff Pad
  • CANGUN Spray Can Tool
  • 2oz Prep solvent
  • 1.5″ 3M Green Auto Grade masking tape
  • 3/4″ 3M Green Auto Grade masking tape
  • Bondo Gold Tack Cloth

This came to under $80 delivered to my door. Note that it takes a while for them to mix the paint and get the order out, so make sure to order a couple weeks in advance of when you need it. Additional supplies/tools:

  • Hand block sander
  • Paper cups and small paint brush for additional touch ups
  • Various drop cloths, tarps, etc for masking and tarping
  • Tunes: you absolutely need music when working on your car

Overview

  1. Prep
    1. Wash car
    2. Clean panel to be repaired thoroughly
    3. Mask panel to be repaired
    4. Scuff entire panel (to be clear coated) with scuff pad or 1000 grit sandpaper
    5. Sand damaged area with 180 then 320 grit to feather all edges
    6. Wipe panel off with damp rag
    7. Clean panel with prep solvent
    8. If bare plastic exposed, coat plastic with plastic parts adhesion promoter
  2. Prime
    1. Spray damaged area with primer
    2. Let dry 5 minutes, wipe with tack cloth, then repeat for 3-4 coats
    3. Let final coat dry 30 minutes, then wet sand with 600 grit sandpaper
    4. If any imperfections, then add more coats of primer, and wet sand again
    5. Wipe area with damp rag
  3. Color coat
    1. Wipe area with tack cloth
    2. Spray color coat over primer making sure to blend with surrounding paint
    3. Let dry 5 minutes, wipe with tack cloth, then repeat for 3-4 coats
    4. Let final coat dry 30 minutes
    5. If imperfections then wet sand with 1000 grit sandpaper and apply one more coat. Do not sand final coat.
  4. Clear coat
    1. Wipe area with tack cloth
    2. Spray entire panel with clear coat
    3. Let dry 5 minutes, wipe with tack cloth, then repeat for 3-4 coats
    4. Do not sand between coats
  5. Final polish
    1. Let clear coat dry for 24 hours
    2. Polish and wax

Tips

  1. Masking and prep
    1. Tape hard lines at panel seams
    2. Use backtaping if you need to tape across a panel
    3. Automotive Masking Tape Techniques video
    4. After masking around the panel to be repaired, make sure to extend the masking/tarping over the rest of your car. Overspray gets everywhere.
    5. For applying the plastic adhesion promoter, I sprayed it into a paper cup and used a small paintbrush to paint a light coat on the bare plastic (instead of spraying it).
  2. Sanding and priming
    1. Your scratched area must not have any hard edges. You need to feather the edges by sanding. Don’t be shy.
    2. After the final primer coat the surface must be perfectly smooth with no imperfections. Remember, the color coat just adds color, it won’t hide imperfections.
    3. Wet sanding is awesome. The sandpaper cuts smoothly, there is no dust, and it just works great. Make sure to wet sand when you sand the primer and (optionally) the second to last color coat.
    4. It’s import to wipe with the tack cloth after every coat. This not only picks up any dust that has settled, but more importantly picks up light overspray.
  3. Take your time. Recovering from a mistake is much more costly than going slow and getting it right. Don’t rush to get that color coat on. A good paint job is all about the prep and getting the primer coat nice and smooth.
  4. The Cangun spray can tool worked fantastc. Well worth it.
  5. automotivetouchup.com has collection of short videos that I found very helpful

Conclusion

Overall I was very satisfied with the repair. Was it perfect? No. I have a little bit of orange peel if you looked real close — but even the pros get that. And the color match isn’t perfect, but it is very good. Good enough not to be noticed by anybody but us.

Overall I am very happy and, more importantly, the spouse is happy.

Photos

IMGP7982

The Supplies

IMGP7987

The damage

IMGP7989

Masking job

IMGP7992

Scratches sanded down and edges feathered

IMGP7997

White primer applied and sanded smooth

IMGP8005

Completed repair

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