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A Guide To Bodywork Repairs

Unfortunately, accidents do happen. If you’ve been involved in a bump or collision, it’ll no doubt be your car’s bodywork that’s taken the worst of the damage, meaning bodywork repairs will be in order. To help you understand what work will need to be undertaken depending on the severity of the issues, we’ve put together this quick guide.

Scuffs and scratches

This kind of minor, cosmetic damage is frustrating and can certainly take the gloss of your car ownership experience, but fixing them doesn’t have to be a major priority.

Some will buff out with a little polish, but deeper scratches may need the attention of a bodywork specialist to match and fill the paint.


If your car has picked up a dent without damage to the paintwork – say, from an errant football hitting a door – it may be easy to fix. A cheat’s method involves a toilet plunger, but we recommend it’s dealt with by a professional panel beater.


Any accident that results in gouges to the bodywork will need more complicated repairs, possibly needing filling, filing, painting and buffing. It may even call for part of the panel to be cut out and backfilled, or the whole panel replaced entirely.

This is complicated, in-depth work that only a professional should attempt, as it could impact on your car’s crashworthiness in the event of an accident.

What bodywork repairs are essential?

If you’ve been involved in an accident and you don’t have comprehensive insurance, you might not be able to make a claim and get it repaired quickly. It can be tempting to just live with the damage, but in some instances, that can land you in hot water.

You must arrange immediate repair work if you have:

  • A broken or missing number plate
  • A smashed front windscreen or front driver/passenger window
  • No wing mirrors at all
  • Any damage resulting in a sharp edge that could injure a pedestrian
  • Anything dangling or dragging on the floor
  • Damage that prevents the bonnet from opening (or securing)
  • Damage to light fixtures that prevents them coming on


There are four types of write-off, so if you’ve been told that your car is a write-off it may still be repairable. Sometimes, repairable cars are written off if the cost of repair is deemed more than its market value. But, of course, this doesn’t take sentimental value into account.

  • Category N write-offs have damage that is cosmetic or electrical (N stands for ‘non-structural’), and this is the equivalent to the now-retired Category ‘D’ designation. They can be repaired and put back on the road without informing the DVLA.
  • Category S write-offs have structural damage, but can be repaired. Before going back on the road, they need to be re-registered with the DVLA. This is similar to the retired Category ‘C’ classification.
  • Category B (‘break’) write-offs will be crushed, although they may be broken for spares before heading to the crusher.
  • Category A cars will be crushed and no parts may be salvaged.

If your car needs any work, contact your nearest Inchcape outlet and discuss options with the team.