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Friday, June 28, 2013

Ten minute auto body repair

New Hampshire is one of those states with a mandatory yearly auto inspections. I've always hated those. It's not that I want to drive unsafe cars. The problem is that I often don't have the time or the money to keep a vehicle up to state standards. Sure, my safety equipment is up to snuff, but some repairs get pushed off into the future.

The big one now is the stupid “check engine” light. I hate that. Who doesn't? Of course I looked under the hood and found the engine still there. Now what? About the only reliable way to sort that out is with a fairly expensive electronic tester. Usually is something stupid like a fouled environmental control sensor or a tiny leak in the fuel vapor capture system. Maybe it's just gremlins. Who knows?

The other big one is holes in the car body. We live in snow country where they use a lot of salt on the road. Salt equals corrosion.

My lovely wife's car had a typical body rot problem: a hole in the rocker panel. There are a number of ways to do a really professional repair job. In the past, I've even done a few, so it's not like I don't know how. However, the car is old and I didn't have much time to mess around. Here's what I did.

I put some disposable gloves on. Mixed a big glob if body filler, the kind with fibers in it. (Bondo) Took it in my glove covered hand and smooshed it into the hole. Then a took a plastic putty knife and smoothed it out a bit. Once it hardened, I sprayed the rocker panels with undercoat. Done. The undercoat has enough texture that it hides the fact the Bondo wasn't sanded.

The car passed inspection, no problem.



  1. I've always heard that it's hard to argue with success!

  2. That's why we always referred to Bondo as The Body Man In A Can.

  3. We have similar situations in New Zealand... the government would like to get all old vehicles off the road... well good for them, but they won't... my bus is a 1977 Bedford, a marque that was the brand that got this country moving and there are still plenty around... but the authorities are trying to make it harder and harder to pass the tests... there are of course no government ministers who drive a vehicle that is this old so they don't care... but folk still prevail and come up with ways to keep wonderful old vehicles legally, on the road.
    Where there's a will, there's a way...

    1. The "cash for clunkers" programs here in the US took some great cars off the market. Made it hard for low income people to buy cars.

      I once paid $50 for a car, spent $90 to get it on the road, and drove it for 2 years.

  4. That's my kind of auto repair: CHECK ENGINE... yep, it's still there! HaHaHa!