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Repair vs. replace dented and rusted panel

I have a brand new Honda Civic and got into a little fender bender. Since it was my fault I am not going to file a claim. After checking Washington Consumer Checkbook and Angie’s List I selected several shops to get estimates. The first two gave me estimates for about $2,000 to replace the entire panel. There is some rust on the edge of the panel. To my great surprise the third estimate was for $490. This shop said it was not necessary to replace the panel, just remove the rust, prime it, punch the dent back into shape and repaint. They also claim they can do this in one day because they have a special oven that dries paint quickly.
A couple of friends were skeptical that a proper job could be done that quickly. What does the community think?


No matter how good the repaired fender looks from the outside, the likelihood is that the original factory rust-proofing on the inner side of the fender has been compromised. If you are planning on keeping the car for the long-term, I would suggest getting a new genuine Honda fender installed.

After-market body parts will lack the same type of rust-proofing as the genuine article from Honda, and may display rust damage after a few years, just like a fender that was repaired.

Why Are You Calling It A “Panel” ?
Name The Panel.

There’s a Difference between a damaged bolt-on panel, like a fender, and a welded panel, like a rear 1/4 panel, door skin, or tail panel, for example.

If it’s a welded panel then I’d go with the bump/fill/paint repair for $490. Don’t worry about the surface rust as there will be lots of grinding and sanding to bare metal, anyhow.

Bolted fender ? Who knows. We can’t see it.

Don’t worry about rust-proofing, either. The shop can squirt a little extra on the underside of the repaired area if you’d like.

One day is pretty fast. I’d tell the shop to take a couple of days and take their time.


A competent body shop could repair the damage to a good standard for $490. What you’re talking about is repairing the damage, and then partially repainting the panel and blending it in with the exisiting paint.

Ask the third shop to see an example of their work. If they want to sell the repair, they’ll show you a car that was recently repaired using that $490 method.

If it a 1/4 panel, I would bump it and paint it. Yes it can be done in 1 day if its small. Baking paint is done all the time. I would do this kind of repair in a day and hold the car for a day. Just because its hard for people to execpt the ways of doing things. Also Aftermarket Body parts are just a good as OEM. Most times better. Rust proofing is the same on both. CAPA body parts come with a lifetime warranty and all AM body parts are CAPA now.

The new paints can be color sanded and polished after about an hour air drying. I would worry more about matching the paint color than anything. Usually you will need to blend into the adjacent body panels to match the color. So agree witht he others but I’d want to see their painting skills first. Too many cars out there with doors and fenders a shade off and it drives me nuts.

Couple questions-

Brand new with rusted panel edge? How new is it really? I would want to see the rust to know if it could really be dealt with in the method they propose.

Name that “panel”.

Yes, many good shops could do this in one day. I would question how they are available to do it so quickly because good shops are usually quite busy and have work waiting. If they’re saying they can fit you in immediately, that should raise the yellow flag…

The Rust Is Probably The Result Of Some Missing Paint Following The Damage, Even On A “New Car”. Not To Worry.

A Good Busy Shop Usually Welcomes Small Jobs Like This One That They Can Work On While Doing The Larger Jobs. The Larger Jobs Usually Have Delays For Parts, Inspections, Additionals, Etcetera. Besides, The Body Men Need To Make A Weekly Pay Check And That’s Done With Small Jobs. Big Jobs Sometimes Take Weeks.

I’d still check it out, but when I managed a body shop, most of this was normal.


Yes it is possible. I have had dents the entire length of my car repaired and painted without replacing body parts. 10 years later, it aged better then the rest of the car. Get some references. If you are paying for it yourself, I would definitly check this plan out first.

About a year and a half ago I went to a few body shops to get an estimate for some easy dent removal. My car was hit in the back and so I had it pulled back on a fixture and all that remained was to do some apparently simple dent removal, priming, sanding and painting. I had the insurance money settlement money in hand to pay for the repair. One shop encouraged me to look elsewhere for a lower price as they specialized in insurance paid repairs. Your $2000 estimate people may have not been so honest and forthright. From this experience it seems unfortunate that the system may be taking advantage of the insurance business to make our rates higher than necessary. Go for the low estimate and as was advised, ask for rustproofing if needed.

The Rust Is Probably The Result Of Some Missing Paint Following The Damage, Even On A “New Car”. Not To Worry.

That’s quite the assumption you make with little to go on.

My thought was no body shop is going to mention fixing flash rust. That’s a normal consequence of damage in many areas and not really something you need to “fix” on its own. If it’s bare metal they have to clean it up anyway as part of the repainting. That’s why I figured it might be something more and advised the OP to check and make sure. If you simply dismiss it as no big deal, you might be disappointed when the repair starts bubbling up in the near future. If its really a NEW car with addressable rust, I’d want a more thorough assessment and maybe even get the factory warranty involved. Why assume all those risks when the opportunity to find out is now and simple???

Hello again,

Thanks to all of you for the interesting input, I am learning! Here is a picture if that helps.


It’s the rear 1/4 panel.

" That’s quite the assumption you make with little to go on. "

All I Have To Work With Is The Information That Was Given And I Have To Take It As Presented - The Car Owner Could Tell Us Anything, But That’s What We’ve Got To Work With Here.

Simels Says And I Quote, " I have a brand new Honda Civic . . . "

I wouldn’t assume surface rust or give the same advice for the owner of a car that wasn’t brand new. If that’s not correct then it’s GIGO.


Other then using stainless steel or painting the inside surface of a fender…what do you do for rust proofing that a factory doesn’t ? Surfaces exposed to debri on the inner liners were coated but manufacturers are quickly finding that plastic works best. So other then paint there is little a body shop can do on a steel fender to help agaisnt rust. Rust prevention is the job of the owner ! Body shops in my limited experience can address minor rust problems well enough that it becomes no more of an issue then if it were never damaged…The problem is, it could always be an issue, repair job or not. I woud not expect a body shop to " rust proof". It can’ t be done as a one time fix.

When I Managed A Shop I Would Include Labor And Materials For Rerustproofing And We Did It And Got Paid For It.

We used 3M Body Schutz. I see that it’s still available.

Also, I’d rather leave any body seams of the car intact if possible when making repairs. That’s why I recommended bumping the mystery panel instead of replacing it. Corrosion and rust is more likely to develop in a seam that is reworked in a shop. The factory does a really good job of sealing and rustproofing them.


3M Body Schutz
As a possible protectant against body damage from flying debri on exposed body panels that if scraped, that could lead to rust, absolutely. I could not agree more. With the caveate, that if were compromised, get it fixed ASAP as it could accelerate rust. That’s why plastic is used frequently. Your Yaris gets this treatment, your Lexus gets plastic.
. It clogs drain holes if over sprayed and should never be used on inner parts of panels where drainage could be compromised.

This product 3M Body makes no claims to being a rust proofer but a sealant and sound buffer. Sealant is the key word as it will seal moisture IN if not inspected and repaired by owner, which is often impossible. Lots of 60 's rust proofers are out of business with their rust proofing claims using this stuff.

All I Have To Work With Is The Information That Was Given And I Have To Take It As Presented - The Car Owner Could Tell Us Anything, But That’s What We’ve Got To Work With Here.

Simels Says And I Quote, " I have a brand new Honda Civic . . . "

That’s exactly my point! A brand new car is not expected to have rust that needs to be addressed in a repair!! So I advised caution whereas your approach was to say it’s no problem…

Now we see the picture, what’s your assessment now?
It sure doesn’t look like what I’d expect on a new car just from recent damage.
That’s why I asked for clarification on what the owner is calling a new car so I could better understand the situation before making any suggestions…

OP- that lower panel has to be removed in order to properly assess and address the rust seen at the seam between the panels. Based on the picture, I think the most economical repair is to fix what you have rather than replacing anything. The biggest unknown is how extensive the rust has become and only the person who disassembles the panel can tell you that.

How long did you go with the damaged area exposed to the elements?
What region of the country do you live in?
What is the year of the car and how long have you owned it?

I agree. A competent body shop can easily deal with the rust and dent as pictured. It appears to be exterior rust as a result of damage and nothing structural in a 2013 should be involved as far as rust is concerned. As twinturbo says, you really can’t say if it needs replacement (which would seem highly unlikely ) till it is removed. You have insurance. Git her done !