How to Fix a Bumper Scrape

Published: 30th March 2010
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Fixing a bumper scrape is an art in itself, which is a good thing since most cars need this service performed at least once. Aaron Baird owns West Coast Recon, a mobile automotive reconditioning company based in southern California, and here, he gives a step-by-step guide of how this is carried out.

You may not believe it, but most of what we do involves fixing bumper scrapes. It is a straightforward procedure but you need someone who can do the job right and guarantee the perfect color match. You also want someone who will come to you and doesn't charge a fortune. That's West Coast Recon.

Masking Off the Area to Be Fixed
Every single car in southern California will need to have this procedure done at some point. Before I fix a bumper scrape, I often tape off and mask off the area that is going to be fixed. That includes any trim on the bumper whose color is different from the bumper's, and any surface you do not want the paint to get on. It is similar to masking off the interior of a car for dyeing, though it is a bit more technical. The tape line needs to be perfect; otherwise, the job will be unsuccessful.

Sanding the Damaged Area
Once I have done that, I will look up the color code of the vehicle. If you cannot locate it, you are in a bit of trouble as it will be harder to find the right color to match. Then, I start to sand the damaged area with a dual action sander, which is like a rotating sander that sands evenly. At that point, I must determine if there is a need to fill anything. If there are gouges in a plastic bumper, I have to smooth all those out.

After making sure that the area is nice and smooth, I prepare to apply the primer. I often use 2 to 3 coats to make sure that the damaged sanded area is all covered. When it is dry, I sand it all down so that the surface is nice, smooth and beautiful.

Getting the Pefect Color Match
I need to scuff every other surface so that it is ready to receive a clear coat. Then, I mix the paint using the vehicle's color code. Each color code has a mixture ratio, which I can look up on my iPhone to learn exactly what it is. After finding out the particulars, I am able to use a sensitive weight scale to mix that color. I carry around a set of paints with about 75 different toners, with which I can mix almost any automotive color in the world.

Once I have mixed the color, I stir it up, making sure there is a perfect match. Then I strain it into the HVLP (High Volume Low Pressure) paint gun, straining out the impurities. I apply several light coats of paint. After making sure the primer cannot be seen anymore, I blend out the edges so that it is all uniform and looks all the same, without any color differential.

Mixing the Clear Coat
The last step is to clean out the gun and mix the clear coat, which is the hardener and a reducer. I strain that into the gun and apply two medium coats of clear coat. Finally, I blend the edges with the existing coats and let it dry for 20 minutes.

The paint process takes about 2 hours from start to hardened clear coat depending on the severity and size of the damaged area. Although we don't refinish entire cars, long key scratches are included in our services.

Aaron Baird is a writer for Yodle, a business directory and online advertising company. Find an auto body shop or more auto body shop articles at Yodle Consumer Guide.

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