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Paint Repair - Dealer or Independent Shop?

Hi all, I’m a fan of/listen to Car Talk and wanted to come here to ask the community’s input on a car repair question.

Recently, the front bumper section (a few inches below the passenger-side headlight) of my 2014 Honda Civic (4-Door) was scratched lightly, after a small run-in with a pole in a parking garage where I work. There’s no structural damage, but there are two thin, horizontal sections (about 2-3 inches in length apiece) where the paint was rubbed completely off, meaning I’ll have to have them repainted.

I received an estimate from a local body shop (which does good work) of about $350, while the estimate from the body shop at the Honda dealership (where I bought the car) came in at around $575. Normally, my instinct would be to go with the local body shop, but in this case I’m a little hesitant. The color of the car is a deep, but bright, metallic blue. So I’m worried about matching the paint job as much as possible to the rest of the car, since the entire front bumper will have to be taken off and re-painted. And I wonder whether, in the end, the price estimates are close enough to where it might make going with the dealer a viable option, considering it would be certified Honda technicians working on the car.

So I guess, in the end, I’m wondering whether my concern about the paint job matching is even a valid concern to have, or whether I should just go with the local, independent shop for the work.

Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated.


The dealership will most likely farm it out to an independent shop anyway.

I’ve never had a problem with a body shop being unable to match paint, even on years-old faded paint. In your shoes I’d be researching independent body shops (Not MAACO. NOT MAACO!!!) in my area and picking the one that has the best mix of good reviews and non-extortionist prices.

Use the independent. He likely gets the paint from the same place as the Honda dealer. And the paint code on the car’s identification tag will tell the paint store the exact color match. Since the car is only 2 years old, the paint is not likely to be faded and should match perfectly.

An independent shop with good recommendations will be fine. I would remind them of the elastomeric paint required. The last time I had a bumper replaced someone forgot and they had to re-do the job.

I vote for the body shop in your case.

Bumper scratches are a fact of life today. Remember what the term “bumper” is supposed to mean, protection agains bumps. I usually accumulate 10 or so per year, as I usually park on the street. If I ran to the body shop for each one, my car would be in the shop most of the time.

Yeah, dealers either farm it out or do it themselves depending. But they use the same paints (there are about three major brands) and computer matching as independent shops. They take a computer scan of the existing paint and feed that into the mixing formula to get a good paint match. Some may want to blend it in to adjacent panels though to get a seamless match. No need to go to a dealer for this but look at the quality of work done by the shop is all.

BillRussell wrote:
Bumper scratches are a fact of life today.

This depends completely on where you live. If you live in a small city where people generally respect each other’s property, as I do, this is pretty rare. I’ve had no visible bumper scratches in the last 20 years or more on my cars.

The independent shop would be fine IMO. But with the prices quoted, seems like they are not going to take the bumper off and paint it. This would make it a bit of a sub-par repair.

Pictures would be helpful. Seems like the car is new and you are wanting to keep it perfect. Sometimes a little bit of patience with touch up paint and a fine brush is all that it needed to make the area look decent for now, until the next bruise happens.

Not all dealerships have body shops. Our Toyota dealer doesn’t have one. A dealer has four or five departments: 1) new car sales; 2) used car sales; 3)_service; 4) parts and sometimes 5) body shop. Each department has its own manager, and these departments are mostly independent. The most independent is the body shop. I had the hood, roof and trunk of my Taurus repainted at the Chrysler body shop and the paint matched perfectly. Most recently, my Toyota Sienna was bumped in the Walmart parking lot. The bumper was damaged and there was a small dent in the quarter panel. The repair was done at the Buick body shop. The repair was perfect. The insurance of the motorist that hit my car paid the bill.

I would not worry too much about paint color matching. Dealer or independent body shops will get the paint code number off of the car and likely order the paint from the same outfit.

As to which is best that all depends upon which one will do the job the right way.
All depending, sometimes the dealer estimate may be cheaper.

Around here anyway, most dealers have their own body shops. Nissan and Honda are the 2 exceptions.
The EPA has piled regulations on regarding body shops and that is the reason why some dealers do not have a body shop. It cost too much for compliance and is not cost effective. In some cases that cost can reach a half million dollars and far more than that.
In some areas multiple dealers will go in and operate a common body shop so as to spread the financial pain out a little bit.

Its not much work to pull the bumper off to paint it. The way it works though is they use the paint code and then do a computer scan to refine the paint code to match what is on the car due to fading or color variations from the factory. Just make sure it is a good shop is all.

Around here most of the dealerships don’t own the body shops that are on their own property. I had a bright sea mist green metallic PT Cruiser that had a hole put in the rear bumper cover when the car was less than a year old. I had it fixed by a very small local body shop and they repaired and painted the cover and 6 1/5 years later when the car was totaled you still could not tell it was repaired.

Most if not all of the dealers around here use one of the two paint/body shops located nearby, one’s right between the Honda and NIssan dealers and the other’s only a block away. We just had a local shop replace the driver’s door on our '10 Prius and match the pearl white paint so that even though I know it was repainted it doesn’t look like it.