As this is one of the most common types of damage caused to car bodywork, many people want to know how to repair a bumper scuff, so they can see if it’s something they can do themselves, or if they need an expert to do it.
13 Steps To Repair A Bumper Scuff
- Clean the panel to remove dirt, wax, grease, etc
- Sand the damaged area starting with a coarse/medium grade paper
- Apply body filler to deep gouges & allow to dry
- Sand & shape the filler using medium/fine paper
- Key & prime the filled & sanded area after masking up
- After drying, sand the primer with fine paper & key the area to be painted & lacquered
- Thoroughly clean & mask the area to be painted
- Locate the colour code of the vehicle & colour match against the paint chip/sample
- Mix the paint (or purchase pre-mixed paint if DIY)
- Filter into a paint gun & paint & blend the damaged area
- Lacquer the painted area & fade out the edges where appropriate
- After drying, colour sand, buff & glaze as necessary
- Wash off the vehicle
Can You Repair A Bumper Scuff Yourself?
As you might imagine, the answer to this is ‘It Depends‘!
If you struggle to change a light bulb, or put an IKEA wardrobe together, then you’re unlike to repair a bumper scuff to a high quality, so you’d need to possess some decent practical skills to even consider it.
The other factors to consider are the materials & equipment needed and the environment you’re carrying out the repair in to get a high quality & durable bumper scuff repair on your vehicle.
You should also always ensure you have & use the appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as gloves, masks, goggles, overalls, electrical circuit breakers, etc. Read material & equipment manufacturers instructions carefully & always follow their recommendations.
The Materials Needed To Repair A Bumper Scuff
The materials needed to successfully complete a good quality and long lasting scuff repair on a bumper can be split into 3 parts.
- Prep Materials: You’ll need various grades of sandpaper/ wet-n-dry paper, de-greaser, cloths, body filler, filler spreader, masking tape, masking paper,
- Paint Materials: These will be primer, base coat paint (the colour), lacquer & fade out lacquer if you’re not doing the whole panel, thinners & gun wash.
- Finishing Materials: Get buffing pads, ultra fine wet-n-dry, course & fine compound, finishing glaze & polishing cloths
With regard to the paint materials, the usual DIY materials such as the ones you find in motoring stores (like Halfords for example) are not the same as those used in professional car body repair businesses.
This is particularly the case with lacquer, where a body shop will use a 2 part (2 pack) lacquer, which has a chemical hardener to produce a harder and more durable finish for your bumper scuff repair.
Most lacquers from spray cans are air drying, and not as durable (long lasting) as 2 pack lacquer, and will be more prone to chipping & deterioration over a short time.
Equipment Needed To Repair Scuffs On A Bumper
If you intend to do DIY repair a bumper scuff, and it’s likely to be the only time you ever do it, then it would not be cost effective to invest in all the equipment needed to do a more ‘professional’ job.
However, if you think this may be something you’d be doing regularly, then here’s the bumper scuff repair & paintwork equipment you’d need for each of the 3 sections as above.
- Prep Equipment: You’d need sanding blocks and/or orbital/DA sander, and best used with a dust extractor/workshop vacuum
- Painting/Priming Equipment: Appropriately sized compressor, air line hose, air line filter, primer gun, paint gun & lacquer gun (could use the same gun for all 3 if budget is tight)
- Finishing Equipment: An electric polisher (or lots of elbow grease), a bucket & a sponge
As detailed above, when using any of the above equipment & materials, ensure you have read the manufacturers instructions and use/wear the appropriate PPE to safeguard yourself & others who could be around you.
The Effects Of The Environment When Repairing A Bumper Scuff
No matter how good your materials or the equipment you use when doing your bumper scuff repair, the environment has a significant effect on the results you’ll get.
If you’re outside & it’s too cold, or too warm, or damp, or windy, this will have an effect on both the finish of the bumper repair, with dust drifting into the paint or lacquer, and also the durability of the scuff repair.
Another consideration when spraying outside is the overspray, which even with a slight breeze can end up on other vehicles, windows, fences, plants, etc. And if using 2 part lacquer, there are also chemicals which can be harmful, so appropriate PPE must be worn
Is It Possible To Repair All Bumper Scuffs On A Car?
If it is only the painted finish of the bumper which has been damaged with scuffs and/or gouges into the plastic, then in most cases, yes, you can repair this bumper scuff.
However there are other things to check before making this assumption, like is there any damage behind the bumper, is the bumper cracked, is it misaligned, have any mounting points/brackets/clips been damaged?
Whilst the bumper can be repaired, sometimes other parts or panels may also need repair or replacement. This needs to be thoroughly checked, especially as the bumper is only a plastic cover over the main structure & crash protection behind it.
Detailed Description Of How To Repair A Bumper Scuff
The video opposite or above runs through the 13 step bumper scuff repair process we listed at the top of the page.
Below we will go into more detail on each of the steps needed, with an image to illustrate, and a description of what’s happening at this stage of the repair.
Step 1: Clean The Scuffed Bumper Panel
Before you start any bumper scuff repair work, you must ensure the panel and surrounding area is clean, de-greased and free from contamination.
Ideally use a specific cleaning fluid, but at least use hot soapy water (without waxes in it) to ensure there is the least risk of any substances that on the surface of the panel which will spoil the bumper scuff you are repairing.
Step 2: Sand & Clean The Scuffed Area
In this step of repairing a bumper scuff, you need to sand the area that has been damaged, removing the lacquer, paint and primer where appropriate until the damage is removed
Depending on how deep the scuff is, this also provides a key for any body filler that may be required to build up the panel back to its original shape and contours.
Step 3: Fill & Dry The Damaged Area
This step doesn’t always need to be done & will depend on the severity of the scuff on the bumper.
Some scuffs may have penetrated just the lacquer & paint & can just be sanded out of the plastic bumper, but some deeper scratches will need plastic body filler.
When the filler has been applied & is thoroughly dry, it should be left a while to fully harden before the next process.
Step 4: Sand & Shape The Filler
Where filler has been applied to the damaged area during the Shrewbury car body repairs procedure, after it has been thoroughly dried, it is then guide coated and sanded back to form the original shape of the panel.
This step may need to be repeated depending on how badly the panel was damaged. Once the shape is acheived, the sanding scratches are refined, ready for the next step in the body repair process.
Step 5: Prime & Dry The Damaged Area
Key the sanded and damaged area ready for priming, which will give the paint a good bond.
Usually around 3 coats of primer are sprayed, with drying time allowed between each coat.
After the final coat, it must be left for a sufficient time to be thoroughly dry, ready for the next step.
Step 6: Sand Primer & Key Panels
The dried primer is sanded to a smooth finish with the appropriate sandpaper, and the surrounding panels are keyed during this stage of the bumper scuff repair process
Panels must be keyed (or scotched) so they are dull in appearance, to ensure the paint & lacquer bond to the panel during the next step
Step 7: Clean & Mask The Panels
This step of the bumper scuff repair process involves thoroughly cleaning the panels to be painted & lacquered, and masking off the adjacent panels you don’t need painting or overspray to land on.
Cleaning ensures there are not contaminants which could affect the bond of the paint & lacquer to the bumper as well as affecting the finish.
Step 8: Find The Paint Code & Match Colour
Find the paint code for the vehicle (try a search online to see where it is on your vehicle), or you could call your local main dealer for your vehicle brand & ask for the code.
A professional repairer would then identify the paint name and colour chip (sample) from their mixing paint scheme, however, a DIY’er will have to rely on getting the correct code.
If you are able to get a colour chip, then compare it to the vehicle & bumper to check the colour match is correct
Step 9: Mix/Buy Paint & Get Ready To Spray
When the correct colour & shade is found, with a professional paint mixing scheme, the individual colours are weighed out according to the ‘recipe’ to create the final colour.
If a paint gun is being used, the paint will then be filtered into the spray gun ready for the next stage.
With a DIY repair, this is usually replaced by purchasing a can(s) of spray paint. It is worth noting that there are different qualities of spray paints & it is usually worth investing in a quality item with a decent nozzle for better/more even application
Step 10: Paint & Blend The Damaged Bumper
Using the spray gun or spray can, paint the primed bumper scuff repair area in several medium layers of the paint, with appropriate drying times between each coat.
When full coverage of the primer is achieved (ie you can’t see it), blend the colour into the adjoining area of the bumper to match in the repaired bumper scuff to the surrounding ‘good’ panel area.
Step 11: Lacquer & Dry The Bumper Scuff Repair
The next repair process is to apply several coats of lacquer (depends on which type is being used) over the entire repair area just painted & blended, to give a high shine and a durable finish, The edges of the lacquer should be sprayed with fade-out laquer if the whole bumper has not been lacquered.
As detailed above in the ‘Materials Needed To Repair A Bumper Scuff‘ section, there is a significant difference in application, finish & durability between the lacquers used in professional repair shops & from spray cans found in motoring accessory shops.
Step 12: Sand, Buff & Glaze The Lacquer
Once the lacquer is hard enough, it can be colour sanded with ultra fine wet-n-dry to remove any imperfections and/or ‘orange peel’
Then the area can be buffed with a machine polisher or by hand using the appropriate grades of cutting & polishing compound.
Then glaze to give a high shine & protect the finish whilst enabling the lacquer to ‘breath’ and fully cure.
Step 13: Wash The Vehicle
The last stage of the bumper scuff repair process is very simple as it is to just remove all the masking & hand wash the vehicle.
This will remove any dust or polish left on the panel from all of the previous steps.