16 Types Of Car Damage


Dents, scratches, dings, and scrapes all represent types of car damage that can devalue a vehicle. When you purchase a new car, you don’t want to see any of these types of car damage on the vehicle, no matter how much you’re paying for it.

That’s part of what makes a new car something of value, besides the pristine paintwork and flawless components. At the same time, most used cars have some sort of damage done to them throughout the years.

The metal that makes up the doors and body panels is vulnerable to any kind of force acting on it. Sharp objects can rip through the paint, straight down to the primer. Windows break and tires go flat. Time has a way of taking a toll on everything in this world, especially something mechanical like a vehicle.

We all strive to have that beautiful brand-new car that’s shinier than a diamond. However, knowing what types of car damage can occur can help you prepare for any issues that come up during ownership. In some cases, there are many ways to fix the most common types of car damage, including the methods below.  

Scratches and dents

Small bumps and bruises like scratches and dents are one of the most prevalent types of car damage. Backing into poles and other objects can put dents in your car like nobody’s business. We’ve all been there in the driver’s seat when we push the limits just a bit too far and learn where our car is. That’s just part of owning a car. 

The same goes for scratches. Driving too close to branches can earn you costly pinstripes. At the same time, some companies work specifically to repair both dents and scratches. For a small fee, they can repair dents and pull scratches to restore your paint. 

Any extra work they cannot repair will require a body shop. In some cases, the panels may need to be replaced or completely repainted. It all depends on the extent of the damage and where it occurs on the vehicle. 

Bumper damage

Speaking of damage, bumper damage is a common type of car damage as well. Most people who drive too close to the car in front of them have front bumper damage. It’s also easy to hit the right side of the front bumper if you don’t know where the corner of your car is. 

Bumpers can be difficult to repair, depending on the extent of the damage. Some bumpers on older cars can simply be replaced without having to worry about safety equipment.

Cars younger than that are trickier because of the airbags, sensors, and other safety equipment tucked into both front and rear bumpers. This can translate to a higher cost, especially if you have a more expensive vehicle with extensive safety equipment. 

Broken or cracked windshield

Cracked windshields are something you’ll probably run into as a car owner. You inevitably follow a truck too close, something lands on the windshield, or a rock comes up and strikes it in a single spot. That’s why windshield companies and those who install them have businesses.

The nice thing about windshields is that you can typically call one or more companies to replace them without too much trouble. While you might pay more for windshields on newer vehicles, it’s better than having to replace the entire front end of the car. 

Flat or damaged tires

Of all the types of car damage, flat tires often require the most grunt work. This is especially true if you have to change the tire yourself and you own a larger vehicle. However, damaged tires are easy enough to repair simply by replacing them with a new tire. 

The catch comes when you have an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle. Due to the wear patterns on the car, you’ll likely need to replace at least one more tire to ensure the proper wear pattern. New tires can add up quickly, but it’s better to invest in a good set than skimp and pay for it later. 

Mechanical failures

Cars are complicated machines vulnerable to all kinds of mechanical failures. You could have an engine that seizes, a transmission that quits shifting, brakes that fail, and fuel lines that pop off. Most dealerships survive not only off the sale of the cars on the lot but the maintenance as well. 

In addition to putting gas in the vehicle and insuring it, mechanical upkeep makes up most of the cost of car ownership. It’s one thing to afford a car, but it’s an entirely different thing to maintain it. 

Paint fading or discoloration

Automotive paints are certainly durable compared to spray paint, but they’re still not bulletproof. In the past, automotive paint has been thick and even referred to as having an “orange peel” look to it. This means that instead of having a smooth, even surface, the paint has small ridges that you may even be able to feel. 

Paint can also fade or discolor due to excessive sunlight. If you were to put a vehicle in the sun with half of its body exposed and the other half covered, there would be a stark difference in paint color. Maintenance plays a key role as well, especially when it comes to washing and waxing. 

In recent years, automotive paint technology has advanced. Single-stage paints have given way to two-stage paints complete with a hard clear coat. The aftermarket world has also brought ceramic coating into the mix. This innovative product provides an extra layer of protection to keep your paint looking new for years to come. 


Rust is one of the more common types of car damage in older vehicles. Metal is corrosive and moisture can do a lot to remove the rigidity and structure that keeps these components together. You’ll typically find rust more common in humid areas, where unsealed metal quickly degrades as the moisture eats away at it. 

Fender Benders

Accidents, as may be obvious, are one of the leading causes of car damage. From small fender benders to accident scenes where one or more cars are totaled, not a lot of good happens when two large hunks of metal crash into one another at speed. 

Most often, insurance companies determine what is fixable and what types of car damage result in total loss. Repairable damage doesn’t often result in more than fees associated with making the repairs. However, enough damage can cause the car and the title to be salvaged or even totaled. 

Interior damage

As many threats as there are to the exterior of the vehicle, there are just as many that threaten the interior. For example, sharp objects can rip upholstery without care. Chemicals, liquids, or any other object can stain the carpeting, upholstery, and even the headliner. 

Damage can occur to the buttons and gauges as well. Sometimes this is due to the age of the vehicle. After all, things decay and come loose, fade, or even fail. Overuse of the vehicle or a visit from a large bear or wild animal can certainly decrease the vehicle’s value as well. 

Flood damage

Flood damage is much different than recovering a vehicle from a lake, but the effects can be the same. In most cases, it’s a question of mechanical components that need to be replaced because they’re not supposed to be exposed to large amounts of water. In addition, the moisture can seep into the smallest cracks in the vehicle and host several types of mold or bacteria. 

In most cases, flooded cars are often totaled. They’re not only a liability risk in terms of what mechanical components could fail but also a risk in terms of the health of both the driver and any occupants. You may get the car out of the flood, but you’ll never get the flood out of the car. 

Hail damage

Both flood and hail damage are two of the rarer types of car damage. Hail damage is certainly possible in areas where tornadoes and severe weather are common. Dealerships that do not cover their vehicles often take huge hits on the value of those cars that are stuck in a hail storm. 

The problem with hail damage is that while some hail dents can be removed, not all of them can. Depending on the size of the hail, the dent could be rather large. Insurance companies will determine some vehicles totaled based on hail damage, even if they run and drive without issue. 

Collision damage

Similar to fender benders, collision damage often occurs when a vehicle hits some other object at speed. In this case, the collision doesn’t necessarily have to include another vehicle. Some collisions occur when a vehicle skids on the ice. Low-speed collisions can occur when someone hits the gas instead of the brakes. 

Fire damage

There are plenty of electrical components within a vehicle, so it’s not difficult to see how a fire could break out under the right circumstances. Most fires occur in the engine bay, though that’s not always the case. There’s a reason why race car drivers carry a fire extinguisher, especially given the power of their engines. That same concept goes for passenger vehicles as well. 

Vandalism damage

Dealing with other types of car damage can be easier compared to vandalism damage. Vandals typically treat the car as if it were discardable. If someone broke into your car, you could have a busted window or even a broken door handle. 

In most cases, insurance companies offer to give you the car back (if possible) or pay you for the value of the vehicle. If the car was totaled or in some way deemed as such after it was found, typically that results in a payout as well. It all depends on the type of vandalism and how far it went. 

Undercarriage damage

Driving over rough terrain or hitting a curb can cause severe undercarriage damage. In most cases, it’s your suspension that suffers. Axles, A-arms, struts, and even the driveshaft can sustain damage if the undercarriage takes a beating. Most vehicles these days have a higher ground clearance to prevent undercarriage damage, but it’s still possible given the right conditions. 

Glass damage

Glass is fragile, whether it’s your car’s side windows, rearview mirror, or side mirrors. It’s common for any one of these glass components to sustain damage at some point in the life of your vehicle. Accidents can cause side mirrors and windows to break. Theft can certainly spell disaster for your driver’s window.