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I have a new-to-me '96 Legacy Outback, and the bumpers have some serious scrapes on them that I'd like to touch up if I could. The bumpers have a gray metal flake coating on them of some sort. I can't even tell if it's regular paint or not. Is there a good DIY way to touch them up?

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How bad are they?

 

You should be able to buy touch up paint at your subaru dealer. It probably won't be perfect, but it should be good for touch up.

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The headlights are frustrating because they require a lot of time to wetsand down. Use too much grit and you will never get the scuff marks out. Use too light, and it will take forever.

 

Keep in mind that the clearcoat layer (if there is any that hasn't already flaked off) is going to change the feeling of the sanding process. Once you break through this layer, then you will hit that nasty yellow stuff. Use 800 for this phase. Once you have knocked all this off, you should switch to the 1000 or 1500 grits. This will take forever - get a bucket and watch your favorite TV show while doing it.

 

Then move to the 2000 grit. You will finish this labor intensive stuff with a buffing compound.

 

Once tip, wet sand only in linear directions. Sideways, then up and down, then at various angles. Do not sand in circles as this is the most difficult to unscuff. This applies to the buffing compound as well. It is tempting to do it in circles - must resist!

 

You have to put a new clearcoat to protect the plastic. The reason why "cleaned" lenses turn yellow quickly is because they are usually polished and then exposed to the elements. I used an acrylic (rattle can). The trick is that most buffing compounds contain a lot of chemicals that result in fisheyes - kind of like badly prepped paint jobs where the paint won't stick. Some degreaser is appropriate to get the stuff off.....but you have to be very careful not to actually eat the plastic. Rubbing alcohol is a good "safe" alternative.

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My bumper DIY link here will either invite you to do it yourself or scare you aware from doing it.

yup, you scared me away from doing it myself :D .

 

I'm more impressed that you got that done with a 1 and 3 y/o in the house.

 

When you sell the car, make sure you have the "before" pics on hand. If I saw that car with the "new" headlights and repainted bumper, my first instinct would be to think the car was in an accident.

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yup, you scared me away from doing it myself :D .

 

I'm more impressed that you got that done with a 1 and 3 y/o in the house.

 

When you sell the car, make sure you have the "before" pics on hand. If I saw that car with the "new" headlights and repainted bumper, my first instinct would be to think the car was in an accident.

 

interesting thought

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That was a ton of work but I'm sure it made the old beast a new car for you. Now in a couple of years you can do a bit of body work on the rest of it and remove trim.

Then I take it in to a cheap paint place like Earl Schieb. They won't bother to do bodywork or much masking but if you do that first you can get a pretty good job. You end up polishing and removing over spray and a few drips, but by the time you get the lights and trim back in it feels like a whole new car.

My last Jeep got compliments most times I drove it and the paint lasted better than the paint on my BMW and Subie.

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Your bumper looks good, very impressed with your work.

 

I'm glad this headlight thing came up. My headlights (96 obw) are just starting to turn yellow, only on the top it seems. I will be taking care of this very soon so it doesn't get any worse.

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