Car accidents are no fun. Most likely you will leave with some form of damage, regardless of how hard the impact was. While a fender bender may result in minor damage and a full on crash could cause your vehicle to be totaled, there are still options available for you when it comes time to decide if you should fix or replace parts or the vehicle. The two main options are replacing the damaged parts or repairing the damaged parts. Repairs aim to fix the damage that was done with minimal cost, often keeping the same parts that were damaged. Replacement, on the other hand, removes the damaged part and installs a brand new part with no damage. Below, you can find more information on each option to help you better decide which option is for you.
Option One: Repairs
When you get into an accident, one of the first thoughts that may go through your head and one of the first thing you may ask your mechanic is “Can the dent (or other damage) be fixed?” The answer isn’t always simple. Your mechanic or auto body inspector will have to do an in depth examination of the damage, analyze what options are available, and what the cost would be to repair. When it comes to options for repairs, there are several choices that an auto body shop may look into.
Repair Option One: Suctioning
When a dent is small enough, it may be possible to pop the dent back out, leaving behind no signs of damage. Suctioning involves pulling against the way the dent goes to try and smooth the surface back out again. Smaller dents allow for an easier time with suctioning, but hard angles are harder to get smooth again. Other factors, like scratching or abrasions, may make smoothing the dent even harder. If at all possible, your mechanic or auto body shop technician will do what they can so that you don’t have to resort to your car or the part being repainted.
Repair Option Two: Fillers
If you find that you have scratches in your paint or a good sized scrape, it is possible in most cases to fill the damage when the dent has been pulled out. Newer vehicles have easily found paint codes, making buying the same color easy and cheaper than if the paint had to be recreated. If you do find that you need repainting, know that only certified auto repair places can get matching paint codes for custom colors. Fillers often include sanding to smooth the surface before painting.
Option Two: Replacement
When you have more than a simple dent, it may be more cost effective to replace the part than to waste time and money trying to get it repaired. If damage is more than just superficial, a good mechanic will recommend replacement to ensure the highest quality look, performance and safety. If the structure of your vehicle has been compromised, they will more than likely recommend replacement. A good example of this is if your door is damaged to the point that it won’t close, you need a replacement, there is no repairing that otherwise. If you have damage primarily in one place, you may only need a portion of the part to be replaced.
Consider the Costs: How Much is Too Much?
Make sure that you ask some serious questions to your mechanic or auto body technician. Some of these should include: “What parts do you have on hand and, if you don’t have them on hand, how much are they to order?” and “Are there special parts that can only be special ordered?” and “Will it take longer to repair or replace?”
Depending on the damage, repair can cost more time and energy (and money!) than it would to replace a part. The down fall to this is that you may end up having to leave your vehicle with the shop for longer than a day or two. Weigh your options to make sure you are working in what works for you first. Don’t forget to ask about shipping time frames.
Making the Choice: The Final Step
When it comes to deciding which is right for you, go with what you can afford to do, what you have time to do, and what feels right to you.