Small scratches and dents really suck. Whether caused by another driver, a wandering trolley in the parking lot, or whatever causes those unexplained little swirls you see on your bonnet, seeing your car that you’ve spent lots of money on with a few bumps and bruises is enough to make anyone frustrated.
It doesn’t help that there’s no “cure-all” paint that can magically repair minor dents and scratches, so repairing them yourself or taking your car to a repair shop can seem like a bit of a mission – especially if the scratch isn’t stopping you from driving your car. But if you procrastinate and avoid repairing these small scratches or dents, it could end up costing you A LOT of money in the long run.
Why should you repair small dents and scratches?
It could affect the resale price of your car
First impressions matter and the same is true when you want to sell your car. Your car’s resale value will obviously decrease if your car has visible scratches and dents, but the value often decreases by more than you’d think – especially if your car is still fairly new and you choose to sell it privately.
Minor scratches and dents might make the buyer think that you are a negligent owner, leaving them wondering how much further they should drive the price down to allow for other, less visible, areas of neglect in your general car maintenance.
Small bumper bashings can be more serious than they look
If you've been in a bumper bashing and the damage to your car doesn’t look too bad, don’t wait to get it checked out.
Modern plastic and flexible bumpers are designed to minimise damage in low-speed collisions. So don’t be deceived by a lack of visible damage; sometimes the damage can only be seen once you have removed the bumper. Getting it looked at will make sure that you aren’t missing a bigger issue and will make sure you stay safe on the road.
TIP: Scratches on the side of your car are less likely to hide more serious damage, although they are just as potent in reducing your car’s resale value.
Putting off the repair could result in small damage turning into big damage
Ignoring minor damage or putting off the repair could potentially see minor damage turn into something more serious.
The paint on your car keeps elements like rain, hail, and dirt from compromising the quality of the metal underneath. Scratches create weak points in your car’s paintwork. This means that it’s possible for moisture to build up, making your car more susceptible to rust. Dents can also increase the risk of rust and corrosion – often posing an even higher risk than scratches, as they typically expose a larger surface area to moisture.
TIP: Do routine checks on your car. Weather, everyday wear-and-tear, and even car washing can cause the cracks and scratches in your paintwork to grow.
How to go about repairing small dents and scratches
Claim through your insurer
If you have car insurance, you could put in a claim and they will take it from there. Beyond the financial support, this should decrease the amount of admin you have to go through and you can be sure that your car is going to a trustworthy repair centre. That said, there are two importants things to consider before going this route:
The repair might cost less than your excess
The best way to know how much your repair is likely to cost is to get a quote for the repairs yourself. You can go to your trusted mechanic, or use services like FIXICO to get a quote online. If the repair is going to cost less than your excess (or just a small amount more), it’s worth considering paying for the repairs yourself, to keep your insurance record clean and your premiums as low as possible.
You might forfeit your no claims bonus
Does your insurer have a no claims bonus? If so, would this bonus outweigh the cost of the damage? And is it worth claiming for the damage and risk losing the bonus? These are things to think about before claiming for minor damage. But it’s not always easy to figure these things out on your own. So don’t be afraid to ask your insurer to help you when weighing up your options.
Sue the third party who is responsible for the damage
If there was a third party involved, you could claim from their insurance or sue them directly via the small claims court. Read our piece on what to do if you get into an accident that wasn’t your fault here.
Find a reputable panel beater to do the repair
If you decide not to claim from your insurer or sue the responsible party, you could look for a panel beater to do the repair. But make sure that you find a reputable panel beater. Ask friends and family if they know of anyone that can help you. Or reach out on groups on Facebook – you can usually find some really good recommendations. You could also ask your insurer for panel beaters that they recommend.
Fix it yourself
If the scratch or dent on your car is not that noticeable and not worth the effort of going through your insurer or through a panel beater then there is the option to DIY.
There are endless ‘fix it yourself’ tips out there: just do a simple Google. We found this AA article with a few home remedies that seem doable. But keep the following in mind:
- Are you sure that you will be able to do a good job and not worsen the damage?
- Is the damage minimal enough to fix yourself?
TIP: Fixing a dent or scratch yourself might cause more damage and you might end up paying more for the repair – most of us would be better off getting a professional involved!
Tips to avoid dents and scratches on your car
Park smart in parking lots
A lot of scratches and dents happen in parking lots because other people don’t take care when opening their doors or driving their trolley’s. Try to park in an area where there aren’t that many cars around. If it means you have to walk a bit further, at least you’ll be getting your steps in for the day!
Avoid exposing your car to severe weather
Hail can cause some serious damage to your car, so try to park your car under cover when there are signs of a rain storm. But also be aware that wind can cause dust particles, sand, twigs and other natural debris to affect your paint job. Some weather apps allow you to turn on push notifications for weather warnings. This might help you move your car to safety before bad weather hits.
Park it in a garage or under covered carport
When trying to protect your car from the elements, first prize is keeping it in a secure garage. If you haven't got one of those, you might want to consider getting a car cover. It might not be much help against severe weather conditions like hail, but will be a big help in protecting against the wear and tear caused by rain, wind, and the sun.
Take care when washing your car
Always try rinse your car before you start washing it. This will help reduce the amount of dust and sand sitting on your paint job and prevent you from scratching the paint when you start washing it. Also be sure to use good quality car wash soaps and polishes to help preserve the paint job.
Minor dents and scratches might be just that, but if you leave them for too long, they could become a real problem that can cost more than you originally thought. Rather get them checked out and try to get them fixed the right way.
We took to our social media audience to ask them what they would do about minor dents and scratches on their car. It seems DIY comes up on top!