Small scratches and dents can be quite frustrating. Whether caused by another driver, a wandering trolley in the parking lot, or those unexplained little swirls on your bonnet, seeing imperfections on the car you've invested so much in is disheartening.
Whilst there’s no magic paint that fixes these bumps and bruises, getting them repaired sooner rather than later can save you more money and hassle than you’d expect.
Reasons to repair small dents and scratches
1. It could impact the resale price of your car
First impressions matter, especially when selling your car. Visible scratches and dents can decrease your car's resale value, often more than you think. This is particularly true for newer cars sold privately. Potential buyers might see these imperfections as signs of negligence, leading them to wonder about other possible maintenance issues.
2. There might be hidden damage
If you've had a bumper bashing and the damage seems superficial, it’s still important to have it checked out.
Modern bumpers, made of plastic and other flexible materials, are designed to absorb impact in low-speed collisions. But, some damages might only be obvious once the bumper has been inspected properly. Getting it looked at will make sure you aren’t missing something bigger and that it’s safe for you to continue driving.
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.
3. You can prevent minor damage from getting worse
Delaying repairs can escalate minor damage into something more serious. Your car's paint protects the underlying metal from elements like rain, hail, and dirt. Scratches can create weak points in your car’s paintwork, making your car prone to rust. Dents, exposing a larger surface area to moisture, can be even riskier.
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, daily wear and tear, and even car washing can cause the cracks and scratches in your paintwork to grow.
How to address small dents and scratches:
1. Make a 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 route reduces the admin sorting it out yourself, plus you know your car is going to a reputable repair centre. That said, keep this in mind before you file a claim:
Compare the repair cost with 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 cost is comparable to or less than your excess, consider paying out-of-pocket to maintain a clean insurance record and stable premiums.
Consider your no-claims bonus:
If your insurer offers a no claims bonus, take a look at whether the potential bonus outweighs the repair cost. It’s not always easy to figure these things out on your own, so don’t be afraid to ask your insurer for help when weighing up your options.
2. Sue the third party who is responsible for the damage
If another party caused the damage, you might claim from their insurance or take them to the small claims court. For more info, check out our article on handling accidents that aren't your fault.
3. Find a reputable panel beater to do the repair
If you decide not to claim from your insurer or sue the responsible party, find a trustworthy panel beater. Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or online communities, like Facebook. Your insurer might also have a list of reliable panel beaters.
4. DIY repairs
For minor, inconspicuous damages, DIY might be an option. There are many videos and articles out there that offer guidance, like the AA article we found. But keep the following in mind:
- Are you confident in doing a good job without making the damage worse?
- 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 prevent dents and scratches on your car
1. Park smartly in car parks
A lot of scratches and dents happen in parking lots due to careless door openings or trolleys. Try to park in less crowded places even if it means a longer walk – a few extra steps never hurt.
2. Protect your car from severe weather
Hailstones can cause serious damage to cars. Park under cover during storms if you can. Also, wind can fling dust particles, sand, twigs and other natural debris, which can affect your paint job. Weather apps with push notifications can send you weather warnings.
3. Park it in a garage or under covered carport
Ideally, park in a garage. If this isn’t possible, consider a car cover.. While it might not shield against severe weather, it can protect against daily wear and tear.
4. Take care when washing your car
Always rinse your car before washing to remove dust and grit, thus preventing scratches. Also be sure to use good quality car wash soaps and polishes to help preserve the paint job.
While minor dents and scratches might seem trivial, neglecting them could lead to bigger issues and bills. It's better to have them checked and repaired properly.