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Question About Auto Body Work
updated: May 07, 2014, 1:05 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

Dear Edhatters, I hope someone out there can help me solve my auto body repair problem. My son's friend got drunk and jumped on the hood of my Honda Element. The resulting dent is rather large (picture a buttock size and shape). I'm sorry I have no photo, but will submit when I take one later today. I have taken it to several auto body shops, all of which have told me that I need a new hood, because 1) the size of the depression is beyond the scope of dent-remover technology; and 2) there is no access to the underside of the dent as it is in a spot that is encapsulated by metal. I've also taken it to a few "dent specialist" places, and they all say they can do it. One has acknowledged that the size of dent means the hood will also need repainting. Body shop estimates are $1200-1500; dent remover estimates $500-700. I don't know who is correct. The young man who is responsible is willing to pay for the lower cost method, but balking at the hood replacement. I want to do the right thing, but don't know what is fair to both parties. Can anyone advise? Thank you so much.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 517155 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 01:08 PM

Study the estimates then take the best out of three.


 COMMENT 517160 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 01:18 PM

Here's something you can try: put soapy water on the hood of your car where the dent is....take your trusty toilet plunger and push it down on the dent to create suction, then quickly lift the plunger up. I have used this method to remove pressure type dents. This method won't fix any creases in the metal, but maybe the dent will minimized and easier to live with.


 COMMENT 517163 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 01:23 PM

Once metal has been deformed, stretched, and reformed with dent removal methods, it is no longer as good as the original. You're taking a risk on a band-aid technique. Get a new hood.

And let that be a lesson to the drunk.


 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 01:33 PM

Try the plunger it might work years ago I worked in acouple auto body shops and saw all kinds of crazy solutions to fixin dents. It sounds like the plunger just might work and it would be much cheaper too!


 COMMENT 517167 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 01:37 PM

Oh, the jerk will pay for the lower-cost method, but not if the cost is higher? And you're okay with that? I'd get it fixed wherever you want to and then send him the bill. If he doesn't pay, take him to small claims court. It sounds like he's a totally irresponsible creep. I wouldn't play his game for five seconds.


 COMMENT 517170 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 01:46 PM

We've paid $700 to fix small dents in our cars, so your estimates aren't out of line. That seems to be the minimum amount to fix anything by an autobody shop.

If the dent remover can do it, I wouldn't worry about the weak metal unless you see it flexing when you drive. All you care about is having it look good and keep the rain off your engine anyway.

Your kid's friend probably appreciates that you are willing to consider a less expensive alternative to help him out. A $700 lesson in drunk behavior is probably expensive enough. I wonder if those tough comments above are really helpful?


 COMMENT 517174 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 01:53 PM

I would make your best attempt (emotionally and psychologically) to take your son's friend out of the equation.

Treat it as if you did the damage....or another family member did. Then what would you do?

Is a perfect car important to you> It would be to many; especially a Honda Element is a rather new model....and most people appreciate a good looking new car.

If you would take it to a body shop and have a first-rate repair done.....do that. If you would settle for a second rate repair (realistically) and be OK with seeing some evidence of the damage every time you look at your car.....then do that.

The fact that your son's friend did the damage should not enter into your decision.

Whatever you decide by this method....the young man should abide by.

My two cents.


 COMMENT 517175 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 01:54 PM

Yup, get a new hood and have him pay. Stupid kid


 COMMENT 517183 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 02:10 PM

I think 174 is spot on.


 COMMENT 517186 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 02:13 PM

174 makes excellent suggestions.


 COMMENT 517188P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 02:27 PM

+1 on the toilet plunger method. My neighbor just did that on a brand new, expensive pickup truck & it worked like a charm.

Please let us know what you end up doing & maybe even post a picture of the before & after.


 COMMENT 517194 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 02:43 PM

Precison Auto is really good. Do you have insurance?


 COMMENT 517199 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 03:01 PM

I agree with 174; or, as another option, it sounds like your son was there when this happened, so have he and his friend split the cost of the hood replacement.


 COMMENT 517201 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 03:04 PM

I actually find myself in agreement with the majority of EdHat commenters, wow. Get the replacement hood and send him the bill.


 COMMENT 517219 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 03:54 PM

I have personally had dents removed by dent specialists and have recommended dent removal to others. I do my best to avoid having anything repainted. It is rarely exactly the same. Also they usually clear coat the fenders to match the paint to the fenders.. I would let the dent specialist do it, if done well you will not even be able to tell it was damaged. You certainly will notice the painted repair. Good luck


 COMMENT 517223 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 04:05 PM

OP here. Wow, Edhatters, thank you! It is a pretty new car, so I want it done right - but I didn't know if the dent repair route would be doing it right. I don't think the kid's input is relevant, but I don't want to screw him over, either.
I'm leaning toward hood replacement, and hoping that he will cooperate when he realizes that paying now is better than being sued by me or my insurance company. I'm guessing that a judgment against him will not look good for his credit or future employability. I agree that I should take him out of the equation, but if he resists it's gonna be harsh and I won't feel good about it.
To:199, my son was in the car, preparing to drive off, when this kid thought it would be funny to leap aboard. My son doesn't drink and couldn't have prevented it, except by not being a friend in the first place, which is the current status!
Not likely that I'll go the plunger route, but out of curiosity: could it possibly work on a dent twice the circumference of your basic plunger?
Finally, as of yesterday, my insurance co was unclear about whether bodies flying through the air would be included in comprehensive coverage. No one in the office had ever heard of a case like this. Anyone out there have experience with this question?
I will post again, with before and after pix. Thank you all, and please post if you have other ideas.


 COMMENT 517225 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 04:07 PM

It doesn't sound like you got the whole story. I would question why your son allowed this behavior, and exactly how much he was involved with it. I would question if your son was actually drunk too, and maybe his friend is covering for him.


 COMMENT 517235 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 04:31 PM

174 is right on target. Have a proper repair. You may want to sell this car later. It's the hood of your vehicle and you will looking at it whenever you drive! It would tan my hide to have to see a shoddy repair job every day behind the wheel.

I think you are being too lenient. I'm the mother of a 25 year old son, who has a lot of rowdy friends. I would tell that person that they needed to pay for the vehicle to be properly repaired.

I suggest John Briggs. He's no nonsense, his wife who runs the place is a doll and I've taken my car to him several times for minor to major boo boos.


 COMMENT 517247 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 04:55 PM

Find the same hood (maybe even color) through a salvage yard. Check ebay, or there are sites to search salvage inventory.


 COMMENT 517250 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 05:01 PM

Don't have it re-painted if your car is any shade of gold or silver. It's nearly impossible to properly match those colors and you will absolutely regret doing so.


 COMMENT 517268P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 06:32 PM

225 I strongly disagree with you. I do not believe that anyone "allowed" this behavior or should be held responsibly for something stupid that another person did. The son was in the car. The damage was done by someone outside the car jumping up on the hood. How could that have been prevented?? How could that have been allowed or not allowed??


 COMMENT 517270 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 06:35 PM

The kid who jumped on the car as your son was preparing to drive off is lucky he wasn't killed. And just think how you and your son would feel if the kid was killed. And what a mess that would be.


 COMMENT 517292 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-07 08:41 PM

@250 and all others scoffing at repainting.

Any good body shop will match the paint, weathered, new or otherwise. We have the technology to match it. If for any reason you notice it doesnt match, tell the shop. If they are a good decent shop they will fix it. You dont pay for a mismatched paint job, so you should get what you want.

Plus painting an entire panel ( hood ) is easier to match, than spot painting a fender.

I also vote for new hood.

dent pull, bondo/ repaint. Never the same


 COMMENT 517332 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-08 07:40 AM

I recently replaced the hood on my 1998 silver Odyssey because the clearcoat was badly peeling. It was about $600 for a new hood and paint at Anacapa Auto Body. I wasn't concerned with a perfect match on this older car, but it looks great. We also had a bad experience with a dent specialist on a different car - had to repaint the whole car to fix it. Good luck.


 COMMENT 517358 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-08 08:37 AM

You can buy a new replacement hood for less than $200. I see one listed for $87.75 and another for $195.18. Just buy and take to a paint shop to match your car's color. Any teenager can install it, which amounts to simply turning a few bolts.

Edhat won't let me post a url to a supplier, so lookup www DOT partstrain DOT com

www DOT usautoparts DOT net


 ARCHIE agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-08 08:44 AM

I go to Dino's Auto Body for fair prices and good work.


 COMMENT 517373 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-08 08:58 AM

If your car were an old beater I would recommend the dent removal approach but since its a nice new car, get the new hood - I just went through the same dilemma with my fender and a non-factory fender from a good source was around $150 versus about $300 for a good repair or $100 for a bad repair with lots of Bondo. Paint was the biggest single cost anyway, FYI.

Don't do a so-so repair on a nice new car to spare a drunk idiot from the consequences of his action. FYI, if you make an insurance claim your insurance will go after the kid and could decide to gain leverage over him by having him arrested (forcing you to help them do so - see the subrogation clauses in your certificate of insurance) for vandalism. Since this is vandalism and not a traffic accident keep the insurance company and the DMV out of the loop completely and let the kid make it right financially.


 COMMENT 517413 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-08 09:43 AM

Precision Auto Body on Fairview.


 COMMENT 517428 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-08 10:15 AM

If it is just a dent (i.e. no wrinkle of metal, crease or crack) then dent removal by suction or manipualtion may work. If the car is valuable then you probably are better off ordering a replacement hood and taking it to a good body shop to paint it to match the existing paint. The technology for that is far better than it used to be and the hood, being separated from the fenders and grill, will most likely not show any difference in the paint tone. The removal of the old hood and replacement with the new painted hood is an easy repair.


 COMMENT 517564 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-08 05:09 PM

I recommend Dino's Auto Body on Depot Rd, off Kellogg in Goleta.
Nice people, fair prices, for quality work. Though I've had the misfortune of my car being hit, twice, they did a great job without breaking the bank, or causing the insurance company to try to "total" my car. Best of luck, whatever your choice.


 COMMENT 517568 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-08 05:18 PM

The idiot doesn't get to decide the cost of his idiocy. Get it fixed right and give him a copy of the bill. If he doesn't pay, sue. That's what small claims is for.


 COMMENT 517581 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-08 06:22 PM

568 here. Forgot to add:

Get the kid to admit responsibility in writing. Text, email, etc. If he does agree to pay, get a promissory note signed. The note should contain the names (obviously), amount owed, and terms of payment. Terms being the date it will be payed, payment plan, etc. The date(s) and amounts must be specific. Not, "I'll pay what I can when I can" or "I'll pay you when I get paid for this job I'm doing" or "I'll pay you when I get my taxes". Then, if he doesn't pay as agreed, the small claims case will be open and shut.

Of course, that's all assuming the kid is 18 or older.


 COMMENT 517583 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-08 07:00 PM

I was an insurance adjuster. This IS covered under comprehensive as it is vandalism.


 COMMENT 517596 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-08 08:28 PM

I just used the plunger technique on a huge dent on my Prius and I am stoked, it popped right out!!! Thank you Edhat members!


 CORKY agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-09 12:46 PM

Replacement sounds logical and I say it isn't up to the young man which estimate you should take. He made it, he can fix it. He's responsible, period, unless your son made him do it and wants to chip in.


 CORKY agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-09 02:57 PM

I've always found Hughes Autobody on Overpass to be fair.


 COMMENT 518523 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-05-13 01:27 PM

Year and color make a difference. Some colors require a single color/coat/stage, others require up to 4 stages. Every stage cost you a few hundred dollars in labor and material. If your car is flat white without a clear coat, then it is relatively cheap to paint. For exotic metallic/pearl color, tyou're going to pay MUCH more to paint it. You can get a perfectly fine used hood for about 400 for a 2003 Element. Call the Honda-specific wreckers. I think there is a Honda wrecker in Goleta. . Those wreckers have a huge network of supplier. Tell a local one what you want, color as well, they WILL find it. It is just a matter of price. On eBay you can get a used hood for a grey 2003 Element for $300 shipped. Pay a local body shop $50 to install it properly. It is a simple process, and if I recall, they use a whole four 10MM bolts.


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