Most often found in repairs done by the do-it-yourself enthusiast or in work done by more reasonably priced body shops, plastic body filler helps to greatly speed up the repair process when dealing with minor body damage. Commonly referred to as bondo, car body filler is designed to fill in the small imperfections that traditional repair methods may miss. This allows for repairs that leave a smooth finish that can easily be primered and painted without having to deal with the difficult and potentially expensive metal welding and grinding alternatives. While body filler can be quite indispensable for smaller dent repair work, it is not without its problems. Before deciding on its use, looking at both the benefits and disadvantages of using plastic body filler is essential to understanding exactly what you can expect and how to achieve the best results.
Disadvantages of Plastic Body Filler
Plastic body fillers can have a limited life span, though this life can depend greatly on how much is used for a repair. One of the key problems with body filler is that in large amounts, it tends to shrink and crack over time. When this happens, the panel affected will need to be stripped of its paint and refinished, or else extensive paint damage such as cracking and bubbling as well as the accompanying rust problems in the panel itself will likely follow.
While using a filler only in small amounts may minimize these problems, body filler presents an easy way to repair body damage, and as such, it is commonly used as a main method to repair. These large amounts will almost always cause the above mentioned problems, and may start to show signs of failure in as little as a few months in extreme cases, or in areas with excessive temperature variations or humidity.
Advantages of Plastic Body Filler
When used properly, the key advantage of body fillers is that they can cut significant time off of repair work and generally require far less experience and skill to use. Simply repair as much of the original damage as possible, strip down to the bare metal, and spread on the filler, giving it time to cure. Once dry, sand smooth and you‘re ready for primer and paint.
Price is another advantage, as body filler is quite affordable and requires very little as far as preparation and tools. Traditional repair methods require specialized and expensive tools, while body filler requires only simple hand tools such as a few plastic spreaders and several grits of sand paper to get the job done.
Body filler can be a great tool for repairing minor body damage, but the key to success and minimizing its inherent downsides lies in responsible use and an abundance of patience. For best results, body fillers should be used in combination with traditional dent repair methods, rather than as the sole method of repair. The less filler you use, the longer your repairs will last, and the better looking the final result will be.