Professional Touch Up Vs DIY
Everyday grit, grime and road bumps will inevitably take their toll on your car’s finish. Add to that the onslaught of salt and sun, and your automobile’s initially shining exterior doesn’t stand a chance of remaining pristine over time. Only one question remains: Should you have the repairs done by a professional in a body shop, or should you take the time and effort to accomplish the task yourself?
Taking Your Vehicle To An Auto Body Shop
As the name implies, your favorite auto body shop is literally in the business of making cars look good again after damage from any of any number of causes. If you are ever in a serious collision that has affected your vehicle’s ability to perform as well as its appearance, it’s a no-brainer that you would want to take it to an auto body pro. After all, these companies can perform a complete evaluation of your car’s internal workings and external appearance, making a thorough estimate of how much repairs will cost and providing it to your insurance company. After all work has been completed, they have the specialized equipment necessary to test if your vehicle’s frame is straight and the machine is ready to go back on the road.
However, collisions and other accidents are only one reason you might be considering hiring the services of an auto body shop. If there is no major structural damage to your car and it drives just fine, only requiring cosmetic improvements, you have more of a dilemma as to whether to pay to have someone else spruce it up or do the task yourself. Let’s start by discussing some of the things that auto body professionals do better.
For one thing, auto body shops can make your car look virtually identical to the way it appeared when it rolled off of the assembly line. That is due in part to the manufacturer-grade paint they use but mostly due to the fact that the people who work at a good auto body shop are artisans who have spent years learning their craft. If you are highly invested in your vehicle looking perfect, having the touching up done by a craftsman is the best way to achieve your goal, particularly if your car is newer or falls into the classic or antique category.
Enlisting the services of an auto body shop is also recommended if you see extensive damage to your car’s finish. While touch up paint or your car does come in kits that are convenient to use and widely available from local and online retailers, these fixes do not work well if the damage is severe and widespread. Without the technical knowledge to address these complex issues, you might find that you have wasted hours of your time only to be left with an even worse mess that requires the expert assistance of an auto body pro. Finally, more extensive dents and scratching could signal underlying compromises to your car’s chassis, body or internal components. In situations such as this, you are better off erring on the side of safety and paying a pro to fully assess your car from top to bottom, making whatever fixes are necessary and fully verifying that your car is road-ready before you do any additional driving.
Although taking your car to a shop for repairs can be costly, there are situations when doing so actually makes more financial sense than undertaking a DIY project. This is particularly true if you are an amateur with little or no do-it-yourself retouch experience. If you are unwilling or unable to take the time necessary to do advance research into proper techniques and buy the correct for your car, you will probably wind up with a collection of products that you don’t know how to use, a job whose ultimate results are not up to your standards and left-over paint that you will never utilize again. In instances such as this, opting to take your vehicle to a shop for repairs is actually more cost-effective in the long run.
Speaking of the future, another factor that you need to consider has to do with the reselling of your vehicle. If you plan to put it on the market at some point, you want to do everything you can to preserve its value. Using inferior primers, paint or top coats or doing a bad paint job can actually reduce the resale value of your car. You may actually even open the door to further corrosion or damage with a subpar touch-up job. By contrast, an auto body expert will take pains to apply seamless spot or full-body paint that is of the exact factory specifications. A high-quality job such as this can protect your car from corrosion and rust and actually boost its price tag when the time comes to sell it.
Finally, when you take your car to a fully qualified auto body professional, you can expect the job to be guaranteed for life. Months or even years from now, you can bring the car back to the shop if you notice any problems with the work they have done, and they should make all repairs at no cost to you. That is peace of mind that you will never get from amateur work.
Restoring Your Vehicle’s Finish Yourself
Now that you have learned about what auto body shops do and why they are an important resource to consider, you may be asking yourself when and why you would ever consider doing the job on your own. There are some upsides to taking the reins and becoming your own DIY pro.
For starters, many auto enthusiasts find this type of work to be both fun and rewarding. That being said, you need to possess both the desire and the time to learn the application techniques and to obtain the correct products to do the job right. In addition, you will require an environment that is not exposed to inclement weather and is cool and ideally away from heavy foot traffic. If you are the type of person who would enjoy the process of carefully cleaning, sanding, thoroughly color matching and applying primer, paint and top coat to all of the affected surfaces of your automobile, you are in luck. Today’s touch-up paint kits come in various application styles and can be matched with the identical factory color of your original finish.
In the past, the art of color matching was imperfect at best, and it was often painfully obvious exactly where newer paint had been applied. However, companies such as TouchUpDirect now offer color match technology that enables you to obtain perfectly compatible paint for jobs both big and small just by providing the make, model, year and paint code of your car. Once you enter this information, you can then decide which style of applicator works best for your needs. A pen-style applicator is generally used for spots smaller in size than a pencil eraser. Choose a cap-style type for scrapes or scuffs bigger than a thumbnail. In cases when you need to paint entire panels or mirrors, opt for an aerosol spray can with a rotatable nozzle. As long as you take the time to carefully sand away the old paint and blend your new coats with the existing color that surrounds them, you can expect a fine-looking result that will vastly improve the appearance of your car. Just remember that you should always apply a protective top coat to seal the color in and provide a shield against damage from sun, salt, bugs, bird droppings and other types of road grime. While it will not be guaranteed and may need to be touched up again at some point in the future, your DIY touch-up job will probably be cheaper and may meet your needs just fine.
Finally, there is the issue of time. When you take on the task of rejuvenating your car’s finish, you can do it at your own pace whenever it is convenient for you. The same cannot be said for an auto body shop. Once you have left your vehicle with them, you are pretty much at the mercy of their schedule. Depending on how many pre-existing commitments they may have, days or even weeks could go by before you are driving your car again.
You count on your car to get you where you need to go virtually every day, and you want it to look respectable if not amazing. Maintaining the finish can go a long way toward keeping your automobile looking good, performing well and upholding its resale value. Whether you choose to have the job done professionally or to undertake it yourself, it always makes sense to maintain your car’s exterior.