Smart repair: cheap repairs instead of expensive replacements

A scratch in the paint, a dent in the door or scratches on the aluminum rim – these and similar types of damage to the car are annoying, but their elimination does not always have to be expensive. The inexpensive alternative to conventional repairs is called Smart Repair (or Spot Repair) and is offered by large workshops as well as small specialist companies. But what is behind the “clever” repair and in which cases does it reach its limits?

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Smart repair is used for minor damage

In principle, any company can use the non-protected term smart repair. In general, this means that damage is repaired with the least possible effort and therefore at the lowest possible cost. In most cases, this involves removing scratches and dents.

Here the executing company decides whether Smart-Repair is possible. There are a few special cases. For example, many workshops rule out bulging or partial painting if the car is painted in flip-flop paint or metallic gold. The same applies to rust spots. And lying surfaces such as the bonnet or the roof are also out of the question. In general, the damaged area must not be too large. In the case of a scratch that extends, for example, over the entire fender, the entire component is usually painted.

Smart-Repair removes scratches quickly and cheaply

It should actually be a matter of course that minor scratches on the bodywork are selectively repaired. But the practice looks different. Bumpers, for example, are all too quickly replaced and repainted at high cost after they come into contact with the wall of a car park. It doesn’t have to be. This is where Spot Repair comes in – a subcategory of Smart Repair. Only the damaged area – the point – is repaired.


These small scratches can easily be repaired with a spot repair. On the other hand, damage with a diameter of more than 25 centimeters is ruled out.

Deep scratches are filled, the surface is smoothed and polished. Spot repairs are particularly difficult when it comes to selectively repainting, which of course must not be conspicuous. A problem especially with older vehicles, since the paint has weathered over time and the original color is therefore of no help. Professionals work here with a computer-aided camera that analyzes the current color of the car. The exact color can be mixed using a special mixing system.

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This is how spot repair works

The advantages of spot repair are not only a short visit to the workshop and lower costs. Since no parts are exchanged, the work is also more environmentally friendly. Some companies even offer a mobile service, so that there is no need to visit the workshop at all.

Dents are pushed out

Smart repair professionals use special tools to pull or press out dents, and in most cases the damage is no longer visible after the work is done. The cost savings here are often several hundred euros.
The Autobild hail test
Many bumps can be pushed out from the inside. The professionals have special tools for this.

But if the dent is on an edge or curve, you have to go further here too. Depending on the location, steel pins, for example, have to be welded on, with the help of which the dent is then pulled out. The area is then repainted over a small area. Even this complex type of smart repair can still be significantly cheaper than buying an unpainted new part and having it painted and installed.

Holes in the seat cover or dashboard can also be repaired quickly and inexpensively thanks to Smart-Repair. Burn holes caused by cigarette burns in particular can cost drivers a lot of money if the affected part is replaced. Just removing the dashboard takes a few hours, which of course is reflected in the price of the repair.

Repair burn hole

Even a burn hole in the seat cover is no problem for a smart repair professional. Cost: from about 50 euros.

Smart repair providers who specialize in such damage usually tackle the holes with a scalpel, filler and spray gun. Instinct is required here at least as much as the right equipment.

Be careful when repairing aluminum rims

Damaged aluminum rims are particularly annoying because they usually cost a few hundred euros. In the case of a scraped aluminum rim, Smart-Repair does not replace the entire rim, but repairs the damaged area and restores it to its original appearance. However, there are clear limits to this form of smart repair.
Smart repair

Make new from old: In many cases, scratched aluminum rims can be repaired.

Damage that does not protrude deeper than one millimeter into the base metal and is no further than 50 millimeters from the edge of the rim may be repaired. Corrections to minor blemishes are permitted, such as slight scratches after hitting the curb. Scratched aluminum rims can be made shiny again in a TÜV-tested process. If in doubt, a short visit to the TÜV helps to have the damaged rim appraised.

Windscreen: small stone chippings are not a problem

Windshield repairs can be difficult and expensive. And insurance doesn’t always pay for it. Here, too, a stone chip can in principle be treated quickly and inexpensively. For this, however, certain conditions must be met.

Only damage limited to the outer car window can be repaired. In addition, the defect in the pane must not be larger than a two-euro piece. The damage must be at least ten centimeters from the edge of the windscreen and must not be in the driver’s field of vision.


If the scratch on the windshield is not in the field of vision, it can be repaired.

The latter is clearly defined by legislators: the driver’s field of vision lies in a vertical strip about 30 centimeters wide exactly in the middle of the steering wheel. The driver’s field of vision is limited at the top and bottom by the field of the windscreen wipers. In any case, the specialist decides whether it can be repaired or whether the entire pane has to be replaced.

Costs are difficult to calculate in advance

Many companies that offer smart repairs have price lists on their homepages. The stated prices are generally to be understood as a minimum. A lot of damage is too individual to estimate the cost of repair in advance. Therefore, you should show the car to a specialist. After the assessment, the expert can usually give the customer a fairly specific price for the work to be done.

ADAC: Not all companies are equally good

But beware. Not all companies that offer smart repair deliver a good result. A comparative test by the ADAC at 20 companies showed that there are major differences in the quality of the service provided and in the price. Some companies showed some serious weaknesses, especially when it came to removing scratches. Dents, on the other hand, were removed by almost all of the assessed companies without leaving any residue.

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Smart repair: repair instead of replacing

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