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Should You Fix Dents and Scrapes in Your Older Car?

It’s happened to virtually all of us at least once: You walk out to your car to find that it’s been bumped, scraped or dented while parked. This can be annoying, inconvenient and potentially expensive. Should you fix it or just leave it as is? We’re taking a look at whether you should bother fixing dents, scrapes or scratches on your vehicle, especially as it gets older.

What Does It Cost?

The cost of fixing a dent or scrape depends on the severity of the damage. A small dent that doesn’t require repainting or touching up could be as cheap as $100 or less, while a bad scrape that damages a few panels could easily be upwards of $1,000 — even if your car isn’t worth very much. The main reason for this is that while cars get cheaper as they age, their parts generally don’t. Then you have to factor in the skilled labor to replace and paint any damaged panels.

If you’re especially concerned about a dent or a scrape, most body shops (and paintless dent-repair professionals) will give free estimates to drivers who want to find out how much it will cost to fix a blemish. You might be surprised at how expensive — or how cheap — it can be to fix your car.

Why Wouldn’t You Fix It?

Should you fix a scratch no matter what? Not always. While drivers with new cars will generally want to fix a scratch or replace a damaged panel, drivers with older vehicles might want to think twice before repairing their vehicles.

The reason: It isn’t always worth it. Let’s say you have a bad scrape on your bumper and a body shop estimates that it’ll cost $1,200 to repaint and possible replace with a new one. Even if you have a $500 deductible — meaning your insurance company will take care of the remaining $700 cost — you’ll still be out $500 to fix your bumper. If you have an older car that’s only worth a few thousand dollars, can you justify spending that $500? You almost certainly won’t get $500 in value back from fixing your bumper, so it may be best to just leave it as it is.

Our Take

Although we recommend fixing dents and scrapes on newer, more valuable cars as well as leased vehicles, we think most drivers should think twice before paying to fix a dent or a scrape on an older model. Unless the dent or scrape is very minor (and therefore very cheap to fix), older and less-valuable vehicles probably won’t gain much value from a repair. You’re often better off just keeping your money and living with the scrape and the knowledge that your car is a little less perfect than it was yesterday.


Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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