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Discussion Starter #1
I did a search and didn't see any other threads on this topic so I thought I'd throw this question out there.

I drive an '09 JSW and have some cosmetic scratches on my rear bumper. I got a few estimates and some differing opinions on whether or not to remove the bumper before painting.

One guy wants $400 and will take the bumper off the car to paint it. That sounded pretty good to me because I don't like overspray.

A guy at another shop wants $300 to paint without taking it off the car. When I brought up the issue of overspray, he assured me he would wrap the car. He then said that often the little plastic clips which hold the bumper on the car get weakened and compromised. He said it's hard to line the bumper up and make it perfect like it was from the factory so it's better to leave it on the car.

The third place I brought it wanted $425 to paint it without removing it and she told me I was nuts for even bothering because the scratches are so minor!

So what's better; paint it on the car or off?
 

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Both are right - overspray and broken clips are both possible. However, broken clips are possible, overspray is guaranteed without taking precautions. It's not too hard to line the bumper up though so I don't know what he's talking about.

I would go with the 3rd guy's opinion though - For that amount of money you could pay a professional detailer to wetsand and polish the scratches. You might not get them out 100% but their appearance will be greatly reduced (70-100% depending on how bad they are) and it's much cheaper. At worst it'll delay the repaint for another 2 years. In addition, the flex elements and aftermarket paint might cause the paint on the bumper to be a slightly different color or fade to a slightly different color. Even factory paint on the plastic parts is often slightly off.

Wash the area thoroughly. Use some 3000 grit wet-dry sandpaper for auto paint and while dripping wet, spot sand the scratches out as much as possible. Follow up with an area polish with stronger polishing compound. I like turtle wax premium rubbing compound (in the soft green tube, not the white/red can). Use a machine polisher here because it'll take a long time. If you can still see scratches keep using the compound. Then follow up with a lighter compound. The last step is optional since it sounds like your bumper gets heavy duty use. Pics of the scratches?

Here are more details on getting scratches out: http://www.myturbodiesel.com/1000q_how_to/multi/polishing_paint.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You're absolutely right. I think wet-sanding and buffing would be a better course of action if it was just scratches.

It's actually more like a deep gouge into the black plastic. I tried using touch up paint but it runs off and won't stick.

I'm really on the fence between wasting the money to fix it and just learning to live with it. Maybe what I need is a bumper sticker!
 
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