To some, a bumper is just another part of a vehicle. But to those to live and breathe trucks, it is much more than that. A bumper, especially an aftermarket bumper is a great way to express your creativity and style.
Some look at a truck and just see another tool that will help you do your job easier. But like with anything, there are exceptions to this rule. A car enthusiast will see beyond the cab, bed, engine, and frame.
What makes us special is that we can see what a vehicle can look like if you give the truck enough time and put on the right parts. Most drivers will never want to do anything to their 4X4 other than general maintenance.
Luckily, gearheads will put on a lift kit, bigger wheels, and aftermarket bumpers in order to stand out from the crowd. Most of us also tend to be perfectionists, and what keeps us up at night is that spot of rust starting on the corner of that bumper, or that paint that is starting to chip thanks to rocks that get flung up by other vehicles on the highway.
No matter if you have a Ranch Hand Summit Series for the maximum protection, or a low profile Fab Fours Vengeance bumper, imperfections in the finish are one of those things that just won’t leave your mind!
This post will go over what causes rust and/or chipped paint on a bumper and what to do if your pride joy’s front end(or rear!) gets affected by these common issues!
What causes rust/flaked paint?
It doesn’t matter if you only travel on the highway or have to go a few miles on a dirt road to get to your front door. Gravel will always be the number one killer of setting perfect-looking bumpers.
If you live in the northern part of the US, chances are that you have seen snow on the roads more than once. Most towns, cities, and counties will use some sort of salt/sand mixture to keep ice and snow from creating too much of an issue on the roads. Unfortunately, bigger particles usually make their way into this mixture and are easily kicked up by other vehicles.
You may not even feel them hitting your bumper, hood, quarter panels, or part of your truck's front end. Unfortunately, the bumper will take the grunt of it, and if left untreated for too long that chipped paint will turn into rust.
Rain, snow, and hail amongst other weather conditions, all become metal’s best friend. However, some friends just shouldn’t be together. Only bad things come out when humidity and iron mix.
If you want to get technical, steel and water create a chemical reaction that oxidizes the metal. This means that it will eventually eat itself alive if left untreated. That is why the most trusted names in the aftermarket bumper industry will choose to powder coat their bumpers instead of painting them.
3. Poor quality paint/application
It doesn’t matter if you have the best paint in the world; If the person finishing the bumper doesn’t know what they are doing, it won't last long at all. Quality is only as good as the person who last touched it.
The same thing is true for bumper makers. You can have the best and thickest steel in the world, but it won't mean anything if the men putting them together suck at their job. Being a master at welding takes a lot of time and practice. That is why a good welder charges so much. On the other hand, you can get an inexperienced person to put them together, but you get what you pay for. At the first sign of stress, they are guaranteed to fall apart.
4. Poor Pre-Paint Prep (say that three times in a row)
At first glance, this may sound like the previous subject. However, it isn’t. Not properly cleaning and prepping the metal before paint or powder coat will create rust in no time!
Just because you can't see it, metal surfaces should still be thoroughly cleaned before applying any sort of finish. Any oil or contaminates will get in between the steel and your favorite paint, causing it to flake off after even a couple of hours or days!
How To Get Rid Of Rust Or Flaking Paint
Several steps should be taken when getting rid of rust and/or flaking paint. As previously mentioned, prep is the most important. If you do not prep the bumper properly, chances are that you will have to redo it again.
Let's have a look at the steps needed in order to get rid of that unsightly rust or paint.
1. Remove The Old Paint/Rust
Getting rid of any rust or old paint can be done by sanding off the problem area. It is important to get all of it off, as any remaining spots will stop the new paint from sticking to the metal.
Sometimes, old paint may put up a fight, and that’s where a chemical paint stripper comes into play. Good, old-fashioned elbow grease will only do so much for stuck on-paint. Aircraft quality paint strippet will become your best friend in these situations. After the paint remover has sat a good while, a plastic spatula helps get rid of any remaining residue.
2. Degrease The Bumper.
There are many degreasing solutions on the market, but the most common is mineral spirits and a lint-free, microfiber rag.
The lint-free rag is very important for this step, and skimping out now will only cause problems in the future. Microscopic particles will get left behind if anything other than a lint-free rag is used, so keep that in mind.
3. Give It A Coat Of Primer.
Just like any of the other steps mentioned on this list, adding a good coat of primer should not be overlooked.
Why? Primer helps the next step(paint) grip onto the bumper that much better. It's like the promoter of a nightclub. It helps the club and the clients get together and have a good time! Without primer, you risk the chance of having the paint not fully latch on to the piece.
Finally, you get to the step that people will finally see when everything is set and done. From the outside looking in, repainting a bumper, or any body panel for that matter, looks like a quick and easy process. But to have it done right requires a lot of experience.
If you have gotten this far, lay down at least two coats of paint with a nice even pass. It doesn’t matter if you do it via a spray gun or rattle can, each swipe you do should cover roughly half of the previous one for a professional-looking finish.
Refinishing a bumper is a long process. In the end, if done right, it can fully change the look of your truck. Yes, it takes some time and some specialized equipment that some may not have in their garage, but the result will be worth it.
Our suggestion is to get yourself a bumper that has been powder coated from the factory. This will help save you a lot of time, and of course money down the road. Manufacturers such as Ranch Hand, Steelcraft, and Hammerhead all sell bumpers that are not only built to last but will take on anything you can dish out at them! Have a look at our selection today!