How to Know Whether to Fix or Replace Your Front Bumper Cover

When you have a front bumper that’s either broken or scratched up, it can be hard to know what to do next. In this article, we’ll help you figure out whether to fix your bumper or get a new one.

When Your Bumper Cover Can be Repaired

Bumper scratch

If your bumper cover has some minor cosmetic damage, such as light scratches or dents, then you might be able to get away with just repairing it. However, keep this in mind:

Repairing your bumper cover seems to be the cheaper and easier solution, but it’s actually not always the case. Depending on the type of damage your bumper has, it may be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to repair the bumper.

For example, if your front bumper is all scratched up, you’ll have to:

  • Buy a restorer gel
  • Fill in the scratches
  • Sand it down to smooth out the surface
  • Repaint the bumper.

After all is said and done, there’s still no guarantee that the bumper will even look good. It may look bumpy, or the paint may not match the color of your car. It’s a lot of time, effort, and money for a repair that might look bad in the end.

Sometimes it’s just easier and cheaper to just replace the whole bumper cover.

Signs That Your Bumper Cover is Beyond the Point of Repair

The whole point of having a front bumper cover is to absorb minor impacts. Any damaged bumper cover with a compromised structural integrity is basically useless. In such a case, you’ll need to replace the bumper cover.

So what types of damage compromise the bumper cover’s structural integrity?

1. Cracks

Any crack in a bumper cover, however big or small, affects the bumper’s ability to provide protection. It’s because of two reasons:

  1. A crack alters the bumper’s structure, thus affecting its ability to stay sturdy and absorb the maximum amount of impact in the event of a car accident.
  2. A crack creates easy access for moisture and dirt, which may rust and/or damage the parts behind the bumper cover. This also compromises the bumper’s structural integrity because the impact bar is the biggest part behind the bumper cover and it’s mainly responsible for absorbing most of the impact.

Some people seal bumper cover cracks with epoxy or a fiberglass repair kit, but it won’t restore the bumper cover’s strength and reliability in the event of a crash. Replacing the bumper cover will do the trick.

2. Damaged or Broken Tabs and Clips

The plastic part of the bumper cover is attached to the impact bar with tabs and clips. If some of these tabs and clips break, the plastic cover isn’t quite as secure. It might look fine when your vehicle is parked. But when you're traveling down the highway, the wind puts a lot of pressure on the bumper cover. As a result, the bumper moves around and the rest of the tabs and clips will eventually break off.

Some people think that gluing these tabs and clips back together would do the trick, but it never does. Glue doesn’t always hold up in wet or cold weather, and sometimes the plastic cover gets slightly warped if the tabs and clips aren’t put back together perfectly.

It’s not possible to restore the tabs and clips, so when these parts break, it’s time for a new bumper cover.

Front Bumper Replacement Costs

To calculate your front bumper replacement costs, you’ll need to take into account a few factors:

  • Time: It takes about an hour to replace a front bumper cover. Factor in your hourly rate if you decide to tackle this project yourself. Add $100 if you decide to have an auto body shop do it for you. (Shops usually charge $100/hour for labor.)
  • Materials: You’ll need some materials to prepare your new bumper beforehand, including sandpaper, automotive body paint, automotive clear coat, and so on.
  • OEM replacement bumper cover: Last, but not least, you need a new replacement bumper cover. If you’re looking to save money, we suggest ordering an OEM bumper cover online. Shops and GM dealers will mark up the price by about 30%. You can find genuine OEM bumper cover online (at GMPartsOnline.net, for example) at wholesale pricing.

Finding an OEM Replacement Bumper Cover at Wholesale Pricing

New Cover

To find the right part number for your GM model, look up your car in our catalog of bumper covers. You can also see if your GM model is in this list:

  • Part No. 23146557: For 2014-2016 Malibus
  • Part No. 15915335: For 2009-2013 Corvettes
  • Part No. 42518918: For 2017-2018 Bolts
  • Part No. 84190084: For 2016-2018 Cruzes