I had a fender bender in Atlanta. Now What?

After decades of driving all over this great country, eventually, we end up bumping into another vehicle. It happened recently in a parking lot where as I was backing out of a space, a work truck was pulling in, and we kissed fenders.

The damage was a dented fender by the driver’s side headlight. His commercial truck may have collected a paint sample the size of a fingernail. So what do we do? We filed a police report and exchanged information.

From my perspective, it appeared that the damage would be around $500 – $1000 on an 1998 Mercedes Benz E320 wagon. The street value of the car is no more than $3000. Our deductible is $500. So, do we submit it to insurance, pay the deductible and have a claim on our record? Do we pay out of pocket for the repair? Do we ignore it and keep driving it with the dent. After a while, you get used to seeing the dent and you learn to live with it.

The first thing we decided to do was go see Hans Ryden at Bavarian Body Works in Atlanta. Hans runs an Auto Body Repair shop in Midtown, and is a respected authority on auto repairs as well as dealing with insurance companies regarding auto collision claims.

One of the things you discover when you have a professional look at a dented fender, is that what appears to be just a dent on the surface, can actually be more involved once they peel back the layers. The fender is mounted to supports that are designed for safety. If any supports are bent or compromised, this can put your family at risk. There are also electrical and possibly hydraulic lines that can be routed under fenders. In our case, we lucked out.

Hans gave us an estimate with a couple of options. One option is to restore it to factory specifications. This is the best and safest option and will help keep the value of the car in the event of a trade in or future sale.

A second option was to pound out the fender, smooth and sand it and re-paint it, feathering in the new paint so that it matches up seamlessly with the existing gold paint. Matching metallic paints is very tricky, but they have some of the top auto body paint craftsmen in Atlanta.

We decided to leave a minor cosmetic fold around the headlight as a cost saving measure. This option saved us a few bucks but did not have an effect on safety, and we could live with the minor crease near the headlight. It is almost imperceptible.

The bottom line is that having a trusted advisor in the area of auto body repair, with years of experience in working with insurance companies can be really helpful and beneficial for when the inevitable does happen, and you run fenders with another vehicle.

Remember Bavarian Body Works, your trusted fender bender, I mean, Auto Body Repair advisor.