Minor Body Repair Question

Thanks to all who responded to my prior post. Now, another question:

I have a small gap between my plastic bumper and a rear quarter panel, about 1/8 inch wide and 1/2-3/4 inch long. The gap is the result of a dent in the quarter panel caused by someone backing the car into a concrete pillar (not me). I am not interested in a picture-perfect repair - can I simply fill the gap with some sort of putty or compound, and then prime or paint? Do I need to be concerned that water may have leaked into that gap, and I will trapping it there to rust? Or, would the bottom of the quarter panel and/or bumper have drain holes on their respective bottoms, anyway?

Lastly, if anyone can recommend a specific product, that would be appreciated greatly.

Thank you,


If you can post a picture of the gap as well as a picture of the dent it will help you to get more accurate advice. Also, what year, make and model car is it?

The plastic bumper and sheet metal panel will expand and contract at different rates and so a gap filelr will not work very well. Normally, there is a relief there anyway so you don’t want to eliminate the gap between the parts. Is the panel still deformed? If so, the panel can be reworked and straightened or, depending on the size of the gap, the bumper may be re-aligned to minimize its appearance. Your best bet is to visit a couple of body shops locally to get an accurate assessment of the problem.

It would help to see a pic of the area in question, but chances are any home repair and attempt to color match this will make it look worse than what it is.

It’s possible that if the dent does not have creases then one might get into the area behind the dent and tap it out with a rubber mallet. This may spring it back into shape and get rid of the gap.
Pics would help, and the above is guessing.

Here is a picture - it’s about large enough to slip a nickle through.

I should add the additional information - this is the driver’s side of a 2002 Solara, so the right side of the photo is the bumper, the left is the rear panel.

That’s not a gap, that’s a tear and a nasty one at that! I revise my prior post, you need to see an auto body shop for that hole and scrapes.

Yes, that one will take a little work. The dent needs to be worked out first; do not try to cover an area like that with Bondo and paint over it.

The body plastic will be too thick and will probably crack and fall out pretty quickly.

It can be done by the DIYer but if you’re not familiar with Bondo, metal working, paint, etc. then it might be a challenge.

What I would recommend is taking it to a local MAACO and price this; as a body fix and spotting the paint in. It may be more cost effective than buying all of the supplies you need to do this.

Yep, thats a tear alright. It would be best to straighten the panel a little while you are at it but I see what you are trying to do as a quick fix. You really need to grind or file off that ripped part of the bumper. Go to an auto supply store and get the bumper repair kit for about $20. Do some grinding around the hole as the instructions call for, and fill in the hole with the filler material. You’ll need some reinforcing on the back of the hole. You can essentially repair the hole and sand it all smooth, then refinish. Of course the damaged 1/4 panel will stand out then.


Thanks all for your responses - so long as all exposed metal is primed and painted, is there any harm in leaving it as it is? Or, does that hole risk entry of water to where it can collect and possibly rust (or, do those panels have drain holes at their bottoms anyway?).

Thank you

No there isn’t a problem with priming and painting it and leaving as is, but you can maybe pull that dent out with a suction cup mechanism (or knock it out from the inside using the palm of your hand or a hammer inside of a gym shoe–depending on access. There are books in the library and magazine articles that describe some of these techniques with photos.