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It is a moment every car owner dreads. As you are walking to your car, something catches your eye. You move in to give it a closer look and see a dent, scratch, or scrape marring the exterior of your vehicle. With this discovery, you are presented with a decision: get the flaw fixed or accept the imperfection?

The answer to this question will likely depend on a variety of factors, including the extent of the damage and the value and age of your car.

What will it cost?

As you decide whether to fix a dent or scrape or to let it lie, one of the prevailing questions on your mind is likely to be – what will it cost me? The answer will depend on the severity of the damage. If a dent is small, it likely will not require repainting or touch up, so it could come in under $100. A larger dent or deep scrape, however, could cost up to $1,500 if several panels are affected. 

Even if your car is an older model, this will not necessarily reduce the cost of repair. While the car’s value may be lower, the cost of parts does not decrease accordingly. Additionally, skilled labor costs do not go down just because a car is older.

Before you commit to getting any damage repaired, be sure to request a free estimate from a body shop. These experts can give you an accurate picture as to whether the repair work will be costly. This information will help you make an informed decision about how to proceed.

Make an educated decision

Once you have a gauge as to the cost of repair, take some time to consider whether the fix is worth the cost. For newer cars, owners will generally prefer to fix any imperfections. They likely have many years of driving left in the car, so they will get a larger return on their investment.

Drivers with older cars have a different set of considerations. What is the value of the car? How high is their deductible? How many years do they anticipate driving the vehicle?

Take the following example: A driver receives an estimate of $1,500 to repair a deep scrape. Their insurance requires a $750 deductible payment. The Kelley Blue Book value of their car is $3200.

While insurance will pay $750 towards repair, the owner will still be investing $750 in a car that is not worth considerably more than that payment. It is almost guaranteed that the repair will not give a $750 return on the investment.

In the above scenario, it would be a reasonable decision not to get the scrape, dent, or scratch professionally fixed.

Consider fixing it yourself

If you decide not to have the dent, scratch, or scrape in your car professionally fixed, you can always consider fixing it yourself. While there are some repairs you should avoid doing yourself, there are a number of at-home methods for repairing these cosmetic imperfections.

If your car has a scratch, you might be surprised to find that toothpaste, duct tape, and nail polish can all serve as mechanisms for repairing a scratch.

Common household items can be equally helpful for removing a dent. If you have a plunger on hand, try it on your car. If that doesn’t work, other options include boiling water or a blow dryer.

While seeing a dent or scrape in your car can undoubtedly cause frustration, be sure to make a reasonable and informed decision about how to approach repair. While the damage may make your car less presentable, economic considerations sometimes dictate that repair isn’t the best option.