Consumer Reports Suggests This DIY Fix For a Dented Bumper

Modern cars are far safer than the steel giants of the old days. Part of what makes new cars safer is the crumple zones and soft plastics that absorb the force of a crash. The downside of this is little fender benders, and small mistakes have a much bigger impact on your soft plastic bumper than the old steel slabs of the olden days. Luckily, Consumer Reports has a handy DIY fix for your car’s dented bumper. 

How to fix a dented bumper? 

Because most bumpers these days are merely thin plastic things shaped like a bumper, the fix can be fairly easy, but it will take some patience. The time and frustration is worth it as a new bumper can easily run past $1,000. So, as Consumer Reports suggests, get your ducks in a row, get the necessary tools and give yourself ample time to do this DIY fix for a dented bumper.

Step one is finding a way to access the inside of your bumper. This will likely require the removal of the fender liner. This is the space in front of the wheel (or behind it depending on if you are doing the front or back bumper) that lines the wheel well. These parts can be manually detached by simply unclipping the liner. 

The second step must be done carefully as not to damage the bumper further. Heat the dented area of the bumper with a heat gun, hot water, or even a strong hairdryer. This heat will make the plastic more mailable and able to be formed back to its original shape. Be careful not to use too high of heat or heat the same spot for too long as this will ruin the paint or even melt the bumper. Like making good ribs, keep the heat low and slow. 

Lastly, you will apply pressure to the heated and softened damaged area and push the dent back out. The material’s memory should pop itself back out to its original shape with little fuss. If there are multiple smaller dents, you may have to use a tool to apply more precise pressure. This also may take a few tries as the area needs to be heated and soft when you push. If the bumper cools, you may have to reapply heat to get the dent out. 

Are new cars harder to work on than vintage cars? 

This is a serious dividing line for many automotive enthusiasts. The old head’s camp believes that the older cars have less technology and computers; thus, they can be fixed much more easily. This same camp will also argue that the plastics and “cheap” materials used in modern cars are more likely to break. Unlike steel, you can’t rework plastic and such. 

The other camp who cape for modern cars and their computers and plastics is that because there is a computer inside, diagnostics and, in turn, repairs are much simpler and faster. Instead of having to hand time your car or fool with a carburetor, new cars can simply be programmed to run better and more efficiently. And of course, now that we know how to DIY fix a dented bumper, that will likely fall into a pro for the new car folks. 

Consumer Reports make it clear which side they’re on

old car getting towed for a dented bumper but there's a DIY fix for a dented bumper
Truck hauling off a Chevrolet Fleetline | Bob Grannis/Getty Images

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Aside from the maintenance and repair work, Consumer Reports is all about safety and reliability. In this aspect of new vs. old, the old dogs simply can’t compete with the new crop of cars and trucks. 

From a simple DIY fix for a dented bumper to endless safety tech and far better crash test ratings, it is hard to argue against the practicality of newer cars. However, the old steel land ships offer heart and emotion to car ownership and repair. Either way, fixing a dented bumper doesn’t have to blow up your bank account – just get a nice hairdryer.