Piston Slap: 'Butt' What About Future Collision Repair?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap butt what about future collision repair

Scott writes:


I’ve got a two-year-old 2015 Golf with a scarred rear bumper after an encounter with a stone wall (lesson learned — use the mirrors to complement the fuzzy nighttime camera image). Two repair estimates for refinishing the bumper cover average $525.00. The damage is down low behind the rear wheel and I can live with the gouge, for now.

However, I’m wondering about being gouged later when I inevitably decide to trade the car in (probably a few years). My question is: Fix it now, fix it before I sell the car, or don’t worry about it and roll the dice on what a dealer will ding me at trade-in time?

Sajeev answers:

Come on son, gimme a few more variables to make this even more challenging! That said, I wouldn’t fix it because I’m a stereotypically cheap Indian the odds of another mishap requiring collision repair is quite possible in the next few years of ownership!

Super hypothetically, let’s say you keep it another five years, racking up 70,000 miles. Edmunds says that a comparable 2009 VW Rabbit has about a $1,000 difference between a “clean” and “average” trade-in. Let’s say that bumper is the tipping point for your Golf’s valuation — considering opportunity cost, is that extra $475 (five years from now) worth it to you?

It certainly isn’t if the bumper gets messed up again!

Odds are you’ll have future problems (cosmetic, electrical, worn tires, etc) that’ll make this bumper a drop in the bucket. Upon trading in, it’ll be at the bottom of your list.

Your thoughts, Best and Brightest?

[Image: VW Accessories Shop]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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2 of 23 comments
  • Burgersandbeer Burgersandbeer on Nov 25, 2016

    On one of my cars I was sick of the drone from the exhaust installed by the previous owner, but the bumper had also been modified to accommodate it so I hadn't gotten around to putting the stock exhaust back on; the bumper cutout would look ridiculous. I did get hit that winter and was able to replace the bumper cover, giving me a chance to get the stock exhaust back on. The car already had an accident on the carfax from a previous owner, so I wasn't worried about that. Waiting for someone else to hit you can work, but how often do you guys take damage from another party and that person sticks around for their insurance to take responsibility? The above mentioned incident is probably the only time my car has been hit on the road in maybe 10 years.

  • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Nov 25, 2016

    I wouldn't be able to stand looking at it, so I would get it fixed. I have a PDR appointment coming up for my wagon to have 5.5 years of minor dings removed, will cost about the same.

  • Lou_BC When my son was at the local Kia dealer they had a vehicle in for service. It was badly rusted. He refused to sign off on it as a tech. The owner being a grade A douchebag had the owner sign a release and let it go.
  • ToolGuy Nice writeup.
  • Jamie Electric cars and their planet stripping unsustainable mineral needs. Nothing is perfect.....
  • Tom Kenney Wondering the same. It's getting late for 2024....I should scoop up a 2023 3.3t now.
  • Ja-GTI My father bought one of these new in '75, when I was an inquisitive lad of six with a younger sister of four. I showed her how to open the rear hatch, and then I noticed a convenient pull-down handle on the bottom of the rear parcel shelf. I couldn't reach it from the ground, so I climbed in the back, pulled on the handle, and quite suddenly shut the hatch on top of me. The four year-old sister couldn't follow my frantic instruction on how to open the hatch - she eventually left to go to our neighbor's house to "get some cookies", and I spent the next several hours having a very bad time.Finally, the older nine year-old sister came home from school and was showing the new car to a friend when she heard me yelling and freed me from my VW prison. Thankfully, I overcame my childhood PTSD and ended up owning an '07 GTI for fourteen years - which gave me another type of PTSD. And my VW circle of life is now complete. Well, except for the '15 Jetta TDI manual I bought for my son...