How to Repair a Scratch in a Bumper

Written by denise brandenberg
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Many drivers have minor incidents that affect their bumpers. Whether your car scraped against another vehicle, you backed lightly into something or you drove too closely to sharp branches, bumper scuffs can be unsightly. These scrapes typically can be easily repaired. Rather than replace the bumper, which can be expensive, you can follow some simple techniques to do the repair yourself.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Soap and water
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Acetone or lacquer thinner
  • Car wax
  • 400-grit sandpaper
  • Touch-up paint
  • Paper grocery bags
  • Masking tape
  • Spray-on primer
  • Clear-coat paint

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    Light Scratches

  1. 1

    Wash the scratched area thoroughly with the soap and water to remove any grease or oil. Dry the area.

  2. 2

    Check to see how deep the scratch is. Apply the rubbing alcohol in a circular motion to remove light scratches from rubber or plastic bumpers.

  3. 3

    Use the acetone or lacquer thinner in a circular motion for more stubborn scratches.

  4. 4

    Apply car wax to seal the surface.

    Deep Scratches

  1. 1

    Wash the scratched area thoroughly with the soap and water to remove grease or oil. Dry the area.

  2. 2

    Sand the scratched area with the 400-grit sandpaper in all directions, up and down as well as side to side.

  3. 3

    Rub your hand over sanded area to make sure the surface is smooth. Wash the area with soap and water a second time.

  4. 4

    Leave the scratched area exposed, and use the paper grocery bags and the masking tape to frame your work area. Apply several coats of primer, using the sandpaper to remove any drips.

  5. 5

    Paint the masked-off area with several coats of touch-up paint to match the rest of the car's paint. Apply a final coat of paint and allow it to dry for at least half an hour.

  6. 6

    Remove the paper and tape and apply the clear-coat paint. Wax the area after the clear coat is dry.

Tips and warnings

  • Many modern vehicles have strong clear coats on the bumper, and if the scratch is in the clear coat, it can be easily sanded out.
  • To avoid sanding down the paint too much, apply a material with different colour than the car paint, such as shoe polish, into the scratch. This will help you estimate how deep you actually need to sand, as the second substance will disappear as you sand the area.

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