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Old 21-02-2018, 02:39 PM   #1
Fentum
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Damaged Bumpers - Repair or replace?

To cut a long story short, I've damaged both front and rear bumpers of my wife's car and my question is whether, given I can procure undamaged replacements for less than £100 each, I should get these repaired or simply take them off, replace them and get the body shop to match spray the new bumpers. I'm guessing that spraying whole bumpers, while more expensive, will be less obvious...

Front off-side damage:





Rear near-side damage:







Longer version to amuse those reading: I don't know what it is with me and my wife's car but I've now had a mishap with her new car in the snow.

She asked me to drive her car out from London to Italy. Fine.

"But it has summer tyres", I said.
"Will that be a problem?", she asks.
"Yes but don't worry - eBay is your friend."

Two days later, a fine set of SLK wheels and good winter tyres arrive. I try to put them on. They need Merc's short bolts. The current wheels have long bolts.

"Hello Mercedes Colindale, I need the SLK R171 short bolts. Do you have any in stock?"
"Yes"
"How many?"
"Computer says 20"
"Good, I'll buy them. I'm coming over now"

Thirty minutes later

"These are the long bolts," say I.
"So they are".
"Do you have the short bolts?"
[Twenty minutes later] "No"
"So why did you say...Oh never mind!"
Then: "Bugger, I'm off to the continent tomorrow morning."

No problem, I tell myself. I'll go via Switzerland as they are best at gritting and keeping the motorways open, and I'll pack my snow chains just in case. (And winter tyres are not mandatory there as they are in France and parts of Italy.)

Off we go.

Night spent in Baden-Baden, except not in BB but on the top of a steep hill outside BB. Six in the morning start and there is a frost and a 1 in 5 descent for about 7km. But we get down OK.

It rains all the way to Basel and, as we cross the Swiss border, it starts to sleet.

I press on as I am half-Norwegian, used to driving in snow, and anyway (obvs) a driving god.

Little matter that I have a RWD Automatic with ESC which can't be fully switched off. I'll make it.

I make it through a worsening blizzard as far as the last service area before the Gotthard Tunnel and the weather is getting worse still. I toy with the idea of hunkering down there for an hour or so. Or should I put the snow chains on? Hell no, the tunnel is ten and a half miles long and there's no snow in there, so why on earth should I clank through? I'll reappraise at the other end.

Well, there was no snow in there and I set cruise control to avoid a speed fine and all was well. Except, there was a blizzard at the exit and I was losing traction, with a Fiat which, had it been any closer to my jacksie, would having been having carnal knowledge of me. I started to pull over, forgetting that I had not deactivated my ESC. Result, slow motion waltzing on ice into a snow bank - hence the limited damage to the front bumper. Oh well. Worse things happen at sea etc...Or, indeed, to my wife's previous SLK. (I had bought this one to replace the one I totalled for her near Mont Blanc in late September.)

Blinkers on, hi viz vest on, warning triangle out.

At this point the Swiss motorway fuzz turn up. Great, I think. They'll have the chains on in no time. But, no.

They check my papers and my vignette (all good, so they can't fine me) then tell me that I am not obstructing the motorway, so they can't fine me. I have all the warning gear out, so they can't fine me. I must put snow chains on if I wish to proceed. (As I can't proceed without them, this was singularly helpful advice). And off they go.

I then have to attach the snow chains to the fat rear wheels in the blizzard on the hard shoulder. There is less than one inch of clearance between the tyre and the top of the wheel arch. So out comes the jack and a piece of carpet I happen to have in the boot. And, fortunately, a wheel chock. The chains eventually attached with me lying in slush on the hard shoulder of a motorway in 10 foot visibility under a car held up by a cheap metal jack rested on ice. If you call me a cretin, I think you are probably being too kind...

Anyway, off we go again, to descend to Bellinzona. After a few kilometres, I hear a bang and pull over. The N/S (UK) snow chain had broken and taken out a portion of the rear bumper. The broken chain had wrapped itself around the back of the wheel hub. I thought I'd have to jack the car up and remove the debris, again lying under the car supported on ice by a cheap jack. Fortunately, a bit of forward and reverse loosened the chain and I was able to proceed very gingerly.

It is a long and steep descent and I then discovered the brake fluid warning light on. I pulled in at the next service area and waited for the gritters to go through and I followed them down the mountain.

From Bellinzona at the bottom I then had to drive to Locarno and on to Verbania, discovering on the way that Swiss and Italian petrol stations don't stock DOT4. 60km (at least largely on the flat) with absolutely no feel on the brakes until the last half inch of depression. I approached every roundabout using the handbrake.

The car is now in the garage having the broken brake pipe mended. And I'm having to eat rather large helpings of humble pie again.

But a cautionary tale - if driving in North or Europe in the winter, don't be a muppet - get the right tyres!

Peter
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Old 22-02-2018, 12:09 AM   #2
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That's very unfortunate [read: funny].

Kind of reminds me of the time, while in Barcelona, I was explaining to my son how to reverse a large people carrier using the mirrors. I no sooner had the words out of my mouth when I took the driver's door mirror completely off with the gate post.

Note to self: stop talking and concentrate...

Anyhoo, regarding the bumpers; I'd imagine there's a good chance that a localised repair will be obvious, as silver paint is notoriously hard to blend. Your body shop should be able to advise. The may be able to hide the repair in the body lines, if that makes any sense at all.

Hooe you get that sorted, buddy.

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Old 22-02-2018, 08:40 AM   #3
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Thanks Niall,

Yes, I do feel like a bit of a plonker!

I've been asking the local bodyshops and been on t'internet and removing bumpers seems reasonably straightforward, so buying replacements and getting them sprayed up (at the bodyshop's convenience) will cost considerably less than paying for repairs.

The front is marginal (i.e. easy and relatively cheap fix) but the back is apparently a major reconstruction.

And the bodyshops still want to spray both bumpers fully - the argument being that a localised respray will show and it matters less if both bumpers are marginally different in shade from the rest of the body, because the paint reacts differently to the plastics in the bumper anyway, so that is standard.

Thank heavens the panels are unaffected!

Peter

Last edited by Fentum; 22-02-2018 at 08:42 AM. Reason: Correcting swear filter editing unsweary word
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Old 22-02-2018, 09:22 AM   #4
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I think that's a good plan of action. I've seen localised repairs on silver, and you can see the shading. A good friend bought a new Mondeo recently, and the bumpers are both a very slightly different shade of grey, so yep, that'd be the best approach I reckon.

It goes without saying, plenty of pics please... Lol.

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