2011 Impala V6 ~80k: Rear Bumper Cover Damage

My 86-year old Mom was backing out of her CVS parking spot when a 70-something man came rolling in off the main drag, and her passenger rear bumper struck his front passenger bumper. Big basketball-sized double “dimple” in the very corner, but no taillight or trunk damage. I was thinking I’d try pulling the bumper cover off and attempting to rubber-mallet the dent back out - maybe with the aid of a low-power heat gun? Of course, then there would be painting, etc. The car’s in good shape otherwise, but I just can’t see spending any appreciable amount of money to fix this.

Is this method gonna work, or will I have to buy a replacement cover ( not to mention what else might be distorted underneath)?

I would try a paintless dent repair place. Prices in my experience have been very reasonable.

You will have to pull the bumper cover to do this. An electric heat gun (no fire!!) to warm the dented area - keep it below about 160 degrees F - and push the dent out by hand or with a round object like a ball. Forget the rubber mallet, the cover is soft and all you’ll do is mark it up with the mallet. Do it gradually, spreading the heat evenly and working the dent out slowly. If you are lucky, you can get the dent mostly out without wrecking the paint. It won’t look perfect and painting it won’t help cover up the dent.

If you insist on taking it somewhere to have it painted, expect several hundreds of dollars depending on where you live. And it will look like an amateur tried to repair mom’s dent. You might as well buy a can of matching spray paint and do it yourself. Cheaper and it won’t look much worse.

And given that she is 80 and goes places with other elderly drivers, this likely will happen again.

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You might try showing her how to find a parking place where she can pull through so she does not have to back out in traffic . This will require a little extra walking because you can’t do this and be at the front door.
I had a neck injury so turning my head to see backing is difficult . If I can’t find a pull through I try to find one where I can back in and then pull out forward when leaving.

Take a close look at it .If it it put that big a dent in it then probably broke some the plastic support holes that hold the plastic bumper on .

You might find the part at an auto wrecking yard. I didn’t, and bought one on line cheaply, but it was several hundred dollars to have it painted. I wonder if you can buy one, painted your color, on line. I didn’t check into it that far. Of course, you can leave it in its natural dark gray color. Good luck and please keep us informed

In my limited experience the sooner you attend to it the better. The plastic has a tendency to take a set the longer it stays in a particular state. Getting it knocked back out as soon as possible, it is more likely to go back to the old shape and may not even be noticeable. The flexible paint also seems to do the same thing. It will start to stress fracture around the bend or may not recover as well over time once the plastic shape is changed back. Sometimes, there is enough gap between the underlying structure and the cover to allow the insertion of a tool to pop it back out without disassembly. I did that with my plow vehicle when I backed into my own car while plowing. Popped it right back out using a garden stake, can’t even tell…

Can’t get to it until my next home trip in a few weeks or so.

Here’s a picture of the damage! I’m thinking … however good I can make it look is what I’m gonna go with for now. It’s gonna all depend on the technique, I think.2011ImpalaBumperCoverDamage|666x500

Yeah I did this before. You heat up the area and push it out back into shape. I just used a trouble light with the bulb hanging next to the bumper for a while but a heat gun will work too. Still had to do some repair and painting but saved the cover.

I see some cracking in the paint, if popped back out, my guess is the paint will start chipping off. Maybe you could touch it up if you don’t care about perfection, if you do care, replacement looks like the solution to me.

Paint is the least of my concerns here. I’ll certainly repaint it - and I’ve done some pretty good repaint jobs in the past that came out pretty good, so I’m not concerned about that. The main thing is just getting the cover off, straightening out anything underneath that might’ve been damaged, and then popping that dent back into position as best I can without the darn thing flapping around loosely.

I’m guessing some small retaining clips will be damaged on the back side that might make it hard to put the cover back on. I’d really love to just push it out from behind without removing the cover at all, but I’m sure it won’t be possible because that would be too easy.

Check Harbor Freight or elsewhere for some inexpensive dent removal tools, sounds like you might need them again in the future. Scottie kills me, but you might give this a watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOrGqBN61UY

A picture is worth a thousand word.Why not upload them here?

You missed it https://discourse-cloud-file-uploads.s3.dualstack.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/cartalk/original/3X/e/b/eb626ca22f437a4ea3b1c500bc2bc839d923ad03.jpeg

Haha! That looks like what I’ll probably be doing. Funny that he poured the water on the back side first, but then maybe realized it would be easier to pour it on the front.

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Send us an after!

Yeah, those are some pretty decent deformations that would be more difficult to pop out than a dish type dent. Taking it off is going to be necessary and far less frustrating over all. Those creases will take a set so sooner rather than later would be my advice. Personally, I wouldn’t worry so much about the underlying metal as long as the bumper cover supports are in the right positions. Good luck!

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Yeah - I have thought of that. When I was home, I drove her to CVS to get her prescriptions and parked against the building nose-first. There’s plenty of room to back out in that wide parking lot, but if someone comes flying in off the main drag - which is possible at this location, almost anyone could be hit!

I guess using the drive-through would be better, but then who’s to say she doesn’t rear-end someone in line?

After driving (and being healthy and in good shape) all her life, she started having late-stage heart issues 2-3 years ago, so she had stopped driving. But then my Dad, who was doing all the driving with no problems - died suddenly at Thanksgiving (also late-stage heart issues), so she’s driving again - but just to the grocery store, the bank, and CVS. My son is there, helping out - and he minimizes her driving, but she still likes to get out of the house on her own at least a little bit.

It’s a tough call with seniors - to take the car keys away from them. I should really move back home and take over for my Dad, but it’s not that easy …

I almost wonder if not repairing the bumper cover might be a good reminder to her to pay more attention .

Doesn’t look any worse than Kilmer’s bumper cover in the video. In fact, I think it’s better.

But - it’s gonna have to wait a few weeks… Unless my son wants to try tackling it.

Maybe he should just pour some boiling water on it once per week to keep it pliable?