DIY or Don’t? When Is Auto Body Repair Something You Can Do For Yourself?

person bending down and sanding damage on vehicle

Not all car damage is catastrophic. Over time it’s easy to start collecting minor dings and scratches just by going about your regularly scheduled day. If you’ve ever had a professional take a look at this seemingly minor damage, you know that even small and superficial auto body shop repairs can be costly. If you’re like many people with a $500 – $1,000 deductible, turning in a small claim for minor damage to your car insurance may not even benefit you. For people with extra time and little car savvy there might be some small repairs you can do for yourself. Here’s a guideline for what kind of fixes an average car owner can manage and what damage requires a professional touch.

Minor Scratches and Paint Repair

Nowadays many auto parts stores sell paint touch-up kits that match a variety of makes and models. But, before you can get started on your own minor paint repair, there are a few things you need to evaluate:

  1. Take a close look at the scratches to see just how deep through the paint they go. A scratch that appears to show the underlying metal indicates deeper damage and a tougher fix. A good test is to run your fingernail over the scratch. If it catches, chances are the paint is broken and will most likely need a professional.
  2. Ensure that you have a dry place to work that is fairly warm, at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with low to no humidity. These conditions help the paint cure properly.

If you find yourself without a place to work or you are working with deep scratches, it might be best to seek out your nearest St. Louis auto body repair shop.

Small Dents and Dings

Unless you’re driving your car off the lot for the first time or you’re just a lucky person (in which case, will you let us split a lottery ticket with you?) we all have a small dent or ding on our car somewhere that bugs us every time we see it. Good news is some of these small dents are the kind of thing you can pop out on your own. There are a variety of ways to go about it from using dry ice or plungers, to at-home dent pullers and the hair dryer/air duster method. (Yes, you read that correctly.) We recommend attempting dent pulling only on small areas like those you might see from dings or the occasional “Oops, I just bumped that while backing my car up” situation. Anything larger may require filler and sanding, and while that
could be done at home, it’s not so great in practice. If your dent doesn’t pop out easily from correct application of an at-home method, it’s probably time to call a professional. In some cases, your car might be eligible for paintless dent removal, eliminating the time and cost of repainting. 

Broken Lights

Replacing a cracked or broken light on your car is actually easier than you may think. Check with your parts supplier to see if your car’s lights are available and what kind of work replacing one entails. Chances are with a good set of tools at home, this is something you can get done on a lazy weekend afternoon.

If any of these repairs are something you can accomplish on your own, go for it! We support car enthusiasts and the DIY spirit for small repairs done properly.

For large or complicated repairs, schedule a repair or estimate with Schaefer Autobody today.