Unwanted Thanksgiving Gift, Part 1

Someone backed into my wife’s Audi over Thanksgiving weekend damaging the bumper cover and leaving a small dent and no note. Before taking it to the paint shop to get the entire bumper cover repainted, I thought I’d see how much I could correct with buffing, touch-up paint, and with a commonly available bumper repair kit.

This is a 2015 Audi A4 with Mythos Black Metallic paint.  Working with black paint is always a mixed bag: when the car is dirty, black hides a lot of imprefections. But when it’s clean, minor defects really stand out. Audi clear coat is pretty thick so you can usually be fairly aggressive when compounding surface scratches. What you initially see is a combination of paint transfer from the other car, scratches in the clear coat, scratches through the clear coat to the base coat, and scratches through the base coat to the plastic. Before starting, I always check that the paint isn’t cracked at the point of impact. If it is cracked, you might as well skip ahead and have the entire cover professionally painted as it will never look right with DIY repairs. This one isn’t cracked, so we’re moving ahead.

Thoroughly clean the area and see how much of the surface paint transfer you can remove with your thumbnail. You would be surprised how much you can move with just your thumb and a magic eraser.

My next step is to compound and polish.  I’m using Sonax 04 06 and Fine Abrasive Paste. I start by polishing the surrounding area, then switch to the 04  06 to take on the worst areas. I make a couple of passes, checking that I’m not building up too much heat, and then finish with a couple passes of polish. What I’m left with are mostly scratches through the clear coat and deep scratches through to the plastic (and the dent circled in red).

I’m going to have to sand and paint eventually, but since I never know when I’m going to have another day above freezing before April, I thought I’d see how well I can try to hide some of the damage with touch-up paint: Paging Dr. ColorChip.

I’m a huge fan of the good doctor, but long scrapes and deep gauges are not the intended application of this product.  I’m going to be putting the paint on thick and not blending it into the surface.  The goal is to mask the problem from five feet away, not create a perfect finish. I try a broad application using the squeegee to begin (and this I do try to blend with the magic elixir.) Then I dab paint to fill the deep gauges. The finished result isn’t bad, and if this were your typical commuter beater , I’d be tempted to stop there. But this car is remarkably ding-free for a three-year old car with 50,000 miles. So it’s on to the dent repair.

The dent is actually in a fairly accessible spot. By removing some interior trim in the trunk, I can easily reach it to press on it from the inside as I try to pull on it from the outside. Before I break out the PDR pry tools, I thought I’d see how far I can get using the glue-gun external puller that you can get from Amazon.

If your paint isn’t damaged (and your clear coat is strong) you can pull many dings from the outside using just a glue tab and a puller tool. It’s a little more complicated when the ding is more like a crease as is this one, but the idea is the same. You glue a little tab to the outside and apply pressure to pull it back into shape. This actually worked pretty well. I ran out of daylight, but got most of the dent out and now just have a scratch to deal with and a little bit of prying to do from the inside to get it flush again.

That’s it for part 1.  From five feet (and especially in low light) it looks presentable. The Scratch Wizard bumper  kit has been ordered and as soon as it arrives — and I have a day off when it’s above 60 degrees — I’ll see if it does a decent job of blending with the original paint. If not, then it’s off to the pros.

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