Thursday, August 31, 2006


BOY Howdy has it been a long summer!

Hey, Luther here. I can not speak for Cletus but I know I hve been covered up with work so that is why there is not been to much done here at the Car Corner. BUT we do have a nice letter that has come to us from a Mrs. J. Gore of Vidalia, Louisiana, who askes us this--

Okay, fellas.

How do you paint a bumper again? Mine has a bruise where I rubbed against another car.

The car is a '97 Ford Escort, silver color, silver bumper.

Best regards,

Janis Gore

Paint and bodywork is not one of my specalties but I have never let that stop me from handing out free advice.

Mrs. Gore has a car with a plastic bumper and they can be difficult to fix exactly right, but you can get them to looking better than having a big ugly scratch on them.

First step is to see how much of the other cars' paint you can wipe off. Sometimes it looks worse than it is and until you get off the other paint, you really don't know. After you've rubbed with a rag, then take something like mineral spirits and see if you can get anything else off, again with the idea of not having to paint any more than you need to.

After you have gotten as much of the other paint off, see how bad the scuff or scrape really is. If it left some deep scratches, you might want to consider using a bit of body filler to even it out some. If it's more or less smooth, the thing to do is start your prep work.

First, call your local Ford dealer and get a spray can of bumper paint to match your car's color. Silver is a bear to try to get to looking right because it just is, so your best bet starting off is to find something as close a match as you possible can. The car parts places sell bumper paint, too, but it never turns out being the exact color and you wind up with something that lookes like a hammered turd. Pardon my languge. If you can't get Ford matching paint, you will have to make do with what you can find at the parts place, but start with the dealer first.

NEXT, after you have run all over town finding some silver paint made for plastic bumpers, it is time to do a bit of sanding. Take some very fine grit sandpaper--no corser than 400 grit, and wrap it around a small block of wood or plastic to make a sanding block. This will help keep you from making gouges int he bumper. Lightly scuff the area right at the bad place on the bumper until you have a nice smooth finish that sort of feathers off into the good paint. Do not go wild and try to get too much paint off. Expecially again with clearcoat silver paint, the more you mess with it, the worse off you are. just do the least amount of sanding you can do.

Mask off an area around where you've been sanding that will allow you to spray the scratch and a bit of the area around it. Make sure you cover up the headlights and other stuff you don't want paint on.

Wipe down the unmasked area with some good quality degreaser and wax remover that you can get at the parts store. This is important because anything like polish or fingreprints or dirt or anything like that can cause the paint not to stick. Again, with silver, it's easy to make a mess.

Make sure the car is in a shady area, that the humidity is not too high, that you are not near a nest full of gnats, that no one is cutting grass,and that no wind is blowing for the next step, because if any of that mess is going on, you will have a spray paint spot on your bumper full of gnats and grass and weird swrily marks and paint bubbles and pinprick holes and a mess.

Shake the can up for all your worth and apply it to the bumper as it says to on the instructions on the label on the can. Do not slather on a big wet coat of paint--do a very fine thin layer and let it dry before hitting it again, and once more, do not paint way too far out beyond the original scratch--you just want the paint to fade out to the undamaged part of the paint so you won't ahve a noticable line between the new and the old paint.

After you have about four or so very thin coats, you should be able to tell if the repair is going to look right. If it's making a mess, you can always go back after it's really dry and sand a bit more on it to get out the mistake. But try not to do that more than about once. Otherwise it'll look like a mess.

On that last coat of color, if everything looks okay, you can do a bit of very fine sanding with some 800 grit (or 1000 even) paper using only the lightest touch, and then if you have some, apply a final coat of clear over it all. Again, not a lot, just enough to seal in the color coat you've put on.

Now, this is for a spot repair of something that's not deep or bent or anything else, and even then, you might still be able to spot the work you've done. Silver is hard to match and new paint and old paint EVEN IF THEY"RE THE SAME PAINT COLOR NUMBER can look different due to the fact that the old paint may have faded. If you want a completely invisible repair, the only way to do that is to make sure you have the entire bumper refinished, which is obviously real expensive. If you don't mind a slight imperfection, you can do a serviceable job yourself, but remember to do as much preperation work ahead of time to get the best out of it.

Now then, I wonder if Cletus or Tie-Rod has anything to add to all that?

UPDATED: Mrs. Gore sends along a photgraph of her bumper for us to review--

After actual looking at it, I think we're on the right track with our advice. There is not no dent in the plastic--sometimes they'l dent in and you can't get them pushed back out right, or they will split. So, that's good.

The next thing is that there is a wider area that looks to have gotten scuffed up. Some of those light marks might actually buff out with some polishing compound. I would see if that worked before starting in on sanding it. Use a good quality product and a new cloth and see how much will come out.

The big dark marks, though, are the ones that will take some work. Try to get as much off with mineral spirits first.

The only difference in sanding I think would be to use a soft block instead of a hard one since you'r working on an outside curving surface. A foam block would be easier to use and would not come as close as a hard one of leaving flat spots.

Let us know how it turns out Msr. Gore!

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