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Car Cosmetic

General vehicle body repair guide.

The most common damage to paintwork are chips on the front bumper and bonnet, scratches / marks along the wings, doors and bumper scuffs. Here we provide some guidance on what you can do and what you should not do.

Please note the information here is for guidance only and we cannot be held responsible for any repair you undertake yourself.

If in doubt always seek professional advice.

Bonnet / bumper chips.

In general, depending on the colour of your car, chips are difficult to remove completely without respraying the whole panel. You can buy paint touch in kits which will seal the chip and stop it rusting however it will still be visible as a repair. Some companies claim to remove chips completely however experience shows that this has to be taken with a pinch of salt and you should get them to demonstrate their technique or show proof before committing to any repairs.


Scratches and scrapes take two forms. If you run a fingernail across a scratch and it catches then its likely the scratch has penetrated all the way through the lacquer coat to the base paint colour. It is possible that using fine sanding paper (2000 or 3000 grade) and a buffing machine that it can be removed or at least made less unsightly although for a near perfect repair respraying the area is the only real option.
If the scratch is only superficial then "T Cut" or some other mild compound may remove the scratch quite easily with some patience. Be warned though that you could penetrate the lacquer coat completely and this will leave a larger unsightly mark that will require repainting.

How not to do it.

Courtesy of YouTube.

Best to seek expert advice first (usually free) before attempting this type of repair.

If the worst comes to the worst, depending on where the scratch is the whole panel may need to be resprayed as it is quite difficult with some colours and panels to get a perfect colour match for a small area.

Image 1 here on the left is an example of a deep scratch that had penetrated through to the metal. The only course of action here was to build the scratch level using primer filler then repaint and blend the area. The area is relatively small for blending as there is a swage line above the scratch and a badge to the left (not shown). A door, boot or bonnet could not successfully be repaired this way with the exception of some colours ie: Non metallic black, blues and reds. Some metallic silvers and pearlescents are the most difficult and generally not attempted by a cosmetic repairer.

Bumper scuffs.

If the damage is superficial ie: the bumper plastic is not showing as white or black then it could be treated the same way as scratches above by useing a mild compound. Damage such as cracking, splits or mishape in the bumper material generally need

Bumper / plastic damage.

In general quite severe bumper damage can be repaired with Most cars these days have plastic type bumpers with impact and crush zone materials fitted behind them. If the impact zones are not deformed or damaged then a repair to splits cracks or plastic deformaty can be made by a professional. Even securing lugs on the bumper can be repaired. There is a considerable saving in time and cost compared to a new bumper, fitting and repainting.

In image 2 This car had suffered a collision with a motor bike. All the securing lugs on the nearside had broken off (hence the red tape) and required remaking. After removing the headlight to see if any structural damage had occured it turned out that only one metal securing bracket had been bent and was easily put right.

Image 3 This is the back of the headlight with the indicator securing bracket which has broken off completely. Once again using specialist tools and plastic welding equipment this was rebuilt and refitted.

In image 4 the repairs to the bumper are complete and refitted correctly. Headlight now secured with the indicator refitted. All that remains is to sand and prime the damaged area and respray. The cost and time saving on this job were considerable as the alternative was a new bumper, headlight assembly and indicator light then respray the whole front bumper. This would have required the vehicle to be off the road for 2 or 3 days. The actual repair took 5 hours at the customers house and the vehicle can be used straight away.

Small dents

These come in two forms. Small indentations where no paint damage is apparent. Depending on where the dent is these can usually be removed completely using Access to the dent is gained through any aperture or window near the repair and it is coaxed back to its original shape.

Image 5 shows quite a large dent with no paint damage however the dent crosses a swage line which makes paintless dent removal difficult and may not produce a perfect repair.

This repair would probable result in the use of hammers and dollies or a stud puller, some filling and repainting of the door.

Dents that have paint damage or are showing metal stretch can only be removed by panel beating or heat shrinking methods. This is usually carried out without the removal of interior trim or fittings. A final skim of stopper and repainting completes the job.

Rust - What can be done ?

In general rust treatments are only a short term measure. We have tried many chemical processes, some better than others, however the rust will come back in time. This may be a few weeks, couple of months or possible longer depending on the weather and humidity. The only real answer long term is to have the panel replaced or a new section welded in. Image 6 shows rust which has penetrated through pins holes in the metal and blistering of the paintwork. When ground out the metal is very thin and requires building up with body filler. This product is porous in itself so will let moisture back into the repair. When buying a vehicle its a good idea to have a small magnet with you. If the magnet does not stick to the bodywork its likely to have been filled and you should be wary. Incidentally the filling may be because of some cosmetic damage and not necessarily rust but best ask questions anyway.

Alloy wheel scuffs and kerbing ?

Alloy wheels are easily damaged due to the softness of the metal. Modern low profile tyres mean the wheel rim is lower and therefore more likely to suffer damage when a kerb is caught or rode over. Minor kerbing can be repaired on the car without removing the tyre. Special chemicals are used to build up the alloy before paint preparation takes place. The use of standard body fillers is not recommended as it is not designed to withstand the severe vibration a wheel is associated with. Severe kerbing and dents will need a full refurbishment requiring the tyre to be removed. There are specialist companies that can carry out this type of work and is often much cheaper than a new alloy wheel.

If in doubt always seek professional advice.

Local 0191 5808188

Mobile 07803 602975

PDR - Paintless Dent Removal

The ability of a skilled technician to remove dents useing specialist tools to ease the dent back to its former shape without leaving any damage to the painted surface.

Stud Puller

This is a tool used in conjunction with a stud welder. A metel pin is attached to the damaged area and then the stud puller acts like a slide hammer to ease the damaged area back to its original shape. This saves time by not having to strip out any interior trim or components.

Stud Welder

This is usually a gun shaped tool that applies electric current to the bodywork via a nail shaped pin. Where the pin contacts the bodywork it welds to the metal. The stud puller is then used to ease the dent back to its orginal shape.

Heat Shrinking

Where dents show signs of paint damage or bare metal it usually means the metal has stretched. A panel beater would use various.

Hammers and dollies

To bring this metal back to shape and use a shrinking hammer to remove the stretched metal. The stud puller above is used to heat the metal and then apply cold water or dry ice immediately after to rapidly cool the metal which shrinks it back to its original shape. This action may be required several times to complete the repair. These tools come in various shapes and sizes. A dolly is a lump of cast metal with different shapes which are held against the damaged area on one side while a hammer is used on the other to beat the metal back into shape.

Swage Line.

Swage lines on motor vehicles are where the manufacturer has put a deliberate shaped line in the panel for cosmetic reasons or to make the panel stronger. Usually found on the side of the vehicle from the front wing through the doors to the rear wing. They can also be found on the bonnet, roof and boot.

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