By on November 25, 2016

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI white

Scott writes:

Sajeev,

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 [email protected] 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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23 Comments on “Piston Slap: ‘Butt’ What About Future Collision Repair?...”


  • avatar
    dchturbo

    There’s some more factors here, too. Where do you live? In a city where people use the cars in front of and behind them to bounce off of into a spot? Or in the suburbs where you park on a driveway?

    For $525, I’d consider fixing it. But the rationale shouldn’t really be monetary. I did something similar in my 13 Passat, and I didn’t fix it. The dent/gouge didn’t bother me. I traded the car in like that and nobody said anything to me.

    My rationale is this: if it bothers you, fix it. If it doesn’t, don’t fix it.

  • avatar
    spamvw

    Depending how long you going to keep the car, repair it. Would you like to drive around a piece of crap or would you like to drive around a nice car? I just took my TDI wagon (stick/non beige) out to the West Coast where it turned 275000 miles and I still have it because it looks good and drives good. Sure I have to do maintenance and repairs but that’s the price of the game. Most people get rid of cars because they’re falling apart, well they’re falling apart because people don’t keep them up.

  • avatar
    shedkept

    I remember the good old days. Back into concrete barriers and drive away virtually unscathed.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      Capping the front and back of all cars with the same stuff as vinyl siding sure has dimmed *my* aesthetic joy in them as well as made minor doinks scary expensive.

  • avatar

    Leave it alone. In the five years I’ve had my LEAF I’ve had 3 separate cases of being bumped from behind while stationary. A scrape I put on the bumper cover loading and unloading is now fixed thanks to the tractor trailer who thought it would be fun to play bumper cars with me in nose to tail traffic on I-65 earlier this year.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Money-wise, it doesn’t make sense to fix it now. Winter is coming, somebody might just hit you.

    That being said, fixing it is good for the soul. No reason to drive around in a banged-up car to save a buck, it’s just depressing.

    You’ll probably wind-up cleaning it less, maintaining it less. Next thing you know, you’ve got fast food wrappers all over the floor, you’re sporting a set of Kuhmo’s cheapest, your German suspension has been replaced with some Autozone bargains, there’s a noise coming from the back that you can’t be bothered looking into, half the bulbs are blown, and you’ve been wearing the same coffee-stained jeans for the past two weeks. It’s a slippery slope!

  • avatar
    Joss

    Flip a coin.

  • avatar
    jimble

    If you park on the street, a banged up car tends to attract more damage because other drivers treat it with less respect. I’ve been down that road and it ain’t pretty.

  • avatar
    RangerM

    If your experience mimics my wife’s, you’ll get hit in a store parking lot, or rear ended at a stoplight and the other driver’s insurance will take care of it as part of the overall damage.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    It’s a bumper and a rear one at that. It will not rust. Leaving it that way will not cause further problems. It will probably get hit again by someone hitting you from behind and at that point you could get it repaired/replaced.

    Bumpers are supposedly there for a reason. Unfortunately modern bumpers, while allegedly ‘safer’ and certainly lighter are far worse at protecting the driver’s wallet.

    If you are than concerned get a can of matching spray paint and practice your touch up skills on it. Between stone chips and others opening their doors on your car in parking lots, you are going to need to know how to touch up scratches and scrapes before you do trade this car in.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I would say be patient. Very soon their will be a lot of VW parts hitting the market as cars are turned in for dirty motors. I am fairly certain the recyclers will get a hold of these cars. So, a painted to match rear bumper may be available from rock auto shipped to your door for $175 very soon.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      It appears that VW will have to remove the PCM, probably after they old water glass in the engine trick, but they will then be able to sell it to a wrecking yard of for scrap. I figure a few will certainly make it to the yards but with the volume you figure that in any given area a certain number will go to the crusher w/o being set in the yard. Run it through the standard processing and then straight to the crusher. But white isn’t a particularly rare color so I agree there is a good chance to pick one up in the right color and bolt it on at home. Personally I like car-part.com The prices vary significantly and with it you are dealing directly with the seller of the item rather than rock auto arranging the transaction for a cut of the deal.

      Tires and wheels should be plentiful so mounted and balanced sets should be commonly available cheap. For a lot of new vehicles you can get a set of take offs for the same or less than comparable quality tires with mount and balance.

  • avatar
    don1967

    $525 a scrape makes sense on a $100,000 Mercedes. On a VW it’s a frivolous use of money that invites future damage and/or peeling.

    Forget about resale value unless you’re selling privately. On a dealer trade the damage is inconsequential… a $300 respray in their eyes.

    Let the damage accumulate for 3-5 years, until you’ve fallen out of love and are getting the trade-in bug. Then treat the car to a bodyshop and a professional detailing so you can fall in love all over again.

  • avatar
    MidLifeCelica

    “Other drivers insurance…”, r-i-i-g-h-t. My previous car went ten years with a minor dent on the drivers side that came with the car, and nothing more. My new Genesis coupe has become a damage magnet after only 14,000km. In the first month of ownership someone dinged the driver door in a parking lot and drove away. I then proceeded to add some ‘road rash’ of my own to the front left (drive-thru curb) and back right plastics (my own driveway curb when my street was being repaved). Still coming to grips with the idea that this car is both lower and much wider than a 2003 Celica. The latest was in a hospital parking lot. Someone backing out their monster truck cut the wheel WAY too soon, leaving a white streak of bumper vinyl embedded in the dented passenger door just below the window, carried all the way back to a damaged rear fender. Naturally they didn’t stay behind or leave a note. At least the plastic came off and the paint is not severely damaged. God knows what this car will look like in 2023.

    I just bought some paint, but Catalunya Copper seems pretty tricky to get right and it’s too cold to spray now anyway. I am thinking of getting some magnetic signs for the doors that say “THIS is why I’m parked like a douche”, with an arrow pointing to the damage as I span two spots diagonally.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      It’s amazing how some cars seem to have a bulls-eye on them. My dad had a car that was rear-ended or hit while parked what seemed like at least once a year. No problems with any cars since.

      • 0 avatar
        WallMeerkat

        Had a little Citroen ZX like that, not sure if the metalwork was thin but it seemed to attract dents.

        Had a huge dent on one rear door, then I was off ill and the neighbour raps the door, they’d hit the other side. It was an old cheap car by then, the dents at least gave it symmetry.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Honestly? Just wait until someone else hits your car and then get it repaired on their insurance’s tab.

  • avatar

    The insurance claim will appear on a Carfax or Carproof report which is not to your advantage even if its a minor claim. It remains a claim on your car.

    Its your choice to either endure a blemish on the rear bumper cover or have it repaired.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      This is exactly what I was thinking. Repairing it now risks getting it put on the CarFax, which will definitely ding the trade in value. Even if it doesn’t show up on the CarFax, any competent dealer will notice the repainted bumper, even if it looks good to you, and will ding the trade value for imagined more serious damage. Get some touch up paint so it’s not so obvious every time you walk up to the car.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    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.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    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.

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