Picture this, you’re parked next to a car minding your own business. You get ready to depart and then suddenly a door opens and dings your precious paint. Either that or you’re the one that accidentally gave the neighboring vehicle a little love tap. Now, the car’s meticulously maintained paintwork is marred a little.
These situations are all too common especially when the slot you’re parking in is a bit tight. It can also happen accidentally because of the wind or because you weren’t paying attention. Either way, there’s a way to deal with this, and you don’t have to fret too much. Just take responsible steps and you’ll be good to go.
There’s no need to cry over spilled milk, and there’s no need to get mad at a little door ding. These things happen, and it’s not worth making a giant fuss over. That being said, dinging a door could happen to anyone. It could happen to a little kid that doesn’t know the extent of his strength, an elderly individual that is struggling to get out of their vehicle, or it could be anyone that just had a moment of error. Either way, keep your cool.
If you’re the one that dinged someone’s door, first apologize and say it was an accident. No need to get too defensive. It happens.
Although, if you’re alone, that’s a bit of a free pass—just a bit. We’ll get to that later.
Assess the damage
Door dings range from no damage to a dent with a paint chip. The damage could even extend to the edges of your door since the paint in that area of the car is thinner than on the door itself. First, get out of your car to get a clear view of the affected area.
Look at the paint.
There are levels of damage in line with the layers in a car’s paint job:
- Top Coat or Clear Coat
- Base Coat
Damage to the topcoat can be summarized by the phrases “it’s just a scratch,” and “it’ll buff out.” It can be pretty deep into the layer or it can be superficial and look a bit cloudy. Either way, a topcoat scuff or scratch usually isn’t that serious.
Meanwhile, anything below that might need a bit of professional intervention. You know that you’re down into the base coat when the surface loses its shine since the outermost layer of your paint gives it a glossy finish.
Deeper still is your primer. That means that the impact was hard enough to chip the paint and head straight into the priming layer of the car’s paint. Primer is usually matte gray in color and it is applied to make sure that the base layer of paint sticks.
Then you get into the metal. A serious door ding will probably go through all layers and get into the metal of the door. While rare, you can identify this kind of damage by checking for coarseness and a metallic sheen in the damaged area.
Look at the dent.
Sometimes, a dent will have paint damage to go along with it, or the paint will be intact but the panel won’t be so lucky. Either way, a dent is a dent. In actuality, a large dent is easier to repair, but a smaller dent might require some finesse to get back up to spec.
Now, after you’ve determined that there is damage or a dent, then it’s time to be responsible adults.
If you’re on the receiving end of the door ding, don’t insist right off the bat and wait for the erring party to offer compensation. If you’re not too particular about the damage, then just accept their apology and move on.
However, if you’re the erring party, first apologize and offer a solution. Refer them to a shop or ask them if some monetary compensation is in order. Don’t skip the pleasantries. Be courteous and they may even let you off, though that depends on the person, the car, and the damage.
If nobody else was around during the time of the incident, it would be better to leave a note and a contact number especially and definitely when the damage is severe. Place it on the windshield and wait for a message or a call, though have your wits about you. Familiarize yourself with the rates of detailing and some paint shops if you can.
Do it yourself!
There are a few products in the market that can remedy the situation, especially if it’s paint-related damage. To fix a scuff, just get a microfiber cloth with some rubbing compound and buff away. The results will turn up almost immediately after a few seconds of elbow grease.
If the damage has eaten any deeper than that, you can use touch-up paint, which can usually be found at your local auto supply. Before applying this, make sure to get the right color for your car. It would be best to get from the manufacturer themselves if you’re particular about the repair blending in.
How about a dent? Without specialized tools, you won’t be able to get a small dent out. For bigger ones, you may want to try some suction cups and try and pull out the panel back into its original shape. This may not always work, however.
… Or bring it to a professional
Deep scratches and small dents will require professional intervention. Body repair shops will have paint, specialized tools, and expertise that can make it seem like the damage never happened. Note that consulting a professional detailer or dent repair specialist might cost you more depending on the severity of the damage.
Prevention is key
There are many ways that you can protect your paint. The most common way is to put on some attachments to your car like an edge protector for your door. These products are typically made of rubber or silicone and they can keep the edges of your door from damage. However, they will do little to protect your car from a dent or scratch should you be on the receiving end of a door ding.
For more protection, you can invest in paint protection film (PPF), ceramic coating, or by simply waxing your car. These products serve as an extra layer of protection for your car’s paint, and can get quite expensive except for wax, which is quite inexpensive but requires reapplication on a regular basis.