Another Question: Repairing Fiberglass - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Another Question: Repairing Fiberglass

Dear Forum,

I have yet another question to ask. I feel bad asking so many questions these days, but things keep happening to me and I need to know what I am dealing with. I hate going into situations without more knowledge.

Today my wife and I went out for an after dinner drive. We stopped at a coffee shop and enjoyed the beginnings of a cup of coffee. I parked my Elise right in front of the door and was able to see it from my seat. As usual, most people stopped to take a look at the car. I washed it up real good yesterday and she was looking pretty. One guy took a long, extended look and then moved on. I only casually watched all this from my seat. My wife and I were in a nice discussion.

A few moments later my eyes glanced over at my car and I see that the guy who took a long look at my Elise backed his mini van right into it. Un. Frick'en. Believable. Drove straight into the back of my car.

51 years old and i'm filing my first ever insurance claim. 51 years!

It was a very minor hit, but there is damage. I don't know if this can be repaired or not. I have zero fiber glass experience. The clam is not cracked all the way through. Here's a photo, although I dont know how helpful it is. Can anyone advise me on what my options are with regards to repair?

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post #2 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 05:03 PM
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If you have chance to park in less crowded areas, do that.

By the door, too much activity.

Local FG users, e.g. Corvette owners will know good body shops. I imagine boat repair guys are more expensive.

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post #3 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 05:22 PM
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Amazing that someone that was looking at your car minutes before was able to back up his car against yours. Incredible!
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post #4 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 11:45 PM Thread Starter
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Amazing that someone that was looking at your car minutes before was able to back up his car against yours. Incredible!
I know. Staggering levels of idiocy.
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post #5 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 02:26 AM
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If the fiberglass is still rigid, it can be fixed from the outside. I am happy with an 'angel hair' type fiberglass mat which after grinding the paint and affected gel coat you lay on with gel coat and it disappears. A little bondo and sanding, done

If the glass is now flexible, you need to add new glass from the back to stiffen it up.
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post #6 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 03:24 AM
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I'm sorry for your luck. This adds to my paranoia about parking my car anywhere.

Don't feel bad posting so many questions- that is what internet forums are for.

When you figure out where you want to get your repair done, please post back to advise other MI people.

Last edited by Obeisance; 08-09-2019 at 03:36 AM.
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post #7 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 05:04 AM Thread Starter
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I'm sorry for your luck. This adds to my paranoia about parking my car anywhere.

Don't feel bad posting so many questions- that is what internet forums are for.

When you figure out where you want to get your repair done, please post back to advise other MI people.
I'm heading to a body shop today. I will definitely report back my experience with this repair.

Yes, parking now is going to be an even more paranoid experience for me. There was simply no way this should have happened, but yet it did. The guy was literally looking at my car for nearly 60 seconds, walking around the back to see what make it was, and then just looking it over. Then he got into his car prepared to exit the lot, decided he wanted to go out the other direction, tried to 3 point turn and backed right into mine. Had I been paying attention a bit more (I stopped looking out the window once he got into his minivan), I could have run out there and possibly stopped it from happening.

While waiting to go to the shop I'm playing a "Guess how much the estimate will be" game in my head. It's probably the least amount of damage you can have on an Elise. The clam is fully intact, with just some surface damage. Maybe it won't be so bad? I'm hoping! In any car with a bumper, there would not be a mark on the car at all. It would have been a non event.
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post #8 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 05:05 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by exigegus View Post
If the fiberglass is still rigid, it can be fixed from the outside. I am happy with an 'angel hair' type fiberglass mat which after grinding the paint and affected gel coat you lay on with gel coat and it disappears. A little bondo and sanding, done

If the glass is now flexible, you need to add new glass from the back to stiffen it up.
I'm pretty sure the structural integrity of the glass is OK. I'm no expert but I dont see more than a few mm's of penetration into the surface. I am hopeful, but still blown away that this is even necessary.
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post #9 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 05:15 AM
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I'm pretty sure the structural integrity of the glass is OK. I'm no expert but I dont see more than a few mm's of penetration into the surface. I am hopeful, but still blown away that this is even necessary.
Thats a deep crack. Still can fix it likely without taking the clam off but it's not some minor cracking.
Spider cracking or hairline cracks are what you use the fine fiberglass mesh for (more similar to what you see on either end of that crack)

This crack needs to be ground out and filled and some reinforcement from the back would be good too, but the fiberglass work on this would be a few hours at most. It's more the bodywork and paint that will cost more.

You might want to look at finding a shop that will take it on and not file a claim. Probably $1000-1500 of damage, if they can fix it on the car
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post #10 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 06:47 AM
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My guess is at least $2k if your at a professional shop.
They will have to repaint the entire rear clam and blend to existing. Hopefully they can get the color matched perfectly.

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post #11 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 12:18 PM
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Sorry to see this happen to you. Unbelievable how he still manage to hit you after gawking at the car just a few minutes prior. Definitely repairable without a doubt. Just go to a reputable fiberglass/paint shop to do the job and you should be good to go. All you will be paying for is your deductible anyways, so take it to the best shop you feel will do it right. Good luck with the repairs and hope she will be back up and running soon.

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post #12 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 02:34 PM Thread Starter
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Update: The body shop was unable to give me a quote. They want to see inside the clam to know the full extent of the damage. I saw the shop and am highly impressed with their set up. I have an appointment in a few weeks for them to remove the rear clam. They are 100% certain that no matter what is on the other side of the clam, this is very fixable. Meanwhile, I have to file an insurance claim against the offending party. All uncharted territory for me. I've gone 32 years of driving without ever doing this.

I appreciate all the well wishes from the forum. I'll continue to update how the repair goes as time goes by.
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post #13 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 02:35 PM Thread Starter
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Good luck with the repairs and hope she will be back up and running soon.
Thank you! It looks like it's a 10 day job so it wont be fixed any time soon, but I'm in no rush. I just want it done right.
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post #14 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 02:52 PM
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Meanwhile, I have to file an insurance claim against the offending party. All uncharted territory for me.
I believe that Michigan's no fault policy obviates filing against another driver; I expect that you file with your insurance and they go after the other driver.

https://www.thebalance.com/michigan-...surance-527044

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/c...02_25083_7.pdf
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post #15 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 03:25 PM
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Just what obeisance said. I usually file thru my insurance and let them go after the other party. This way there is no delays on your end. Iíve done both ways and itís some what of a pain trying to claim thru the other partyís insurance. Let your insurance deal with them.


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post #16 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-09-2019, 06:42 PM
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You might want to consider a mini-tort... https://www.michiganautolaw.com/no-fault/mini-tort/

At least to cover the deductable since you weren't even driving.

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post #17 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-10-2019, 02:54 AM Thread Starter
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I believe that Michigan's no fault policy obviates filing against another driver; I expect that you file with your insurance and they go after the other driver.

https://www.thebalance.com/michigan-...surance-527044

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/c...02_25083_7.pdf
That's what I thought. However, what I learned is that since my car was legally parked, unoccupied, and not under power, the laws are different. This type of accident is considered property damage and so I can go directly to the driver's insurance company to make a claim for the full damage amount. We'll see how it goes.

From your second link: "Michigan law requires you to have no-fault automobile insurance on your car. If you have an accident, this required insurance pays for injuries to people and for damages your car does to other people’s property and to properly parked cars."

Reading this you can see that his insurance pays for damage that he did to my parked car. So in a sense he is at fault here even in a no fault state.

Here's another link: https://www.harborbrenn.com/2015/08/...d-in-michigan/

Last edited by TERIB; 08-10-2019 at 03:05 AM.
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post #18 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-11-2019, 03:23 AM
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TeriB-

Sorry to hear about your predicament.

Please do post pictures of however they approach the repair, as it will help to inform all of us should we ever need it (hopefully not).

I understand your pain......my 65 MGB, currently owned for 25 years and fairly nicely restored, was parked in a small lot a few years back. I came out to see that someone had backed into it (and left!). Fortunately, the police were able to track down the culprit with assistance from witnesses from a nearby business during my absence. It turns out that it was backed into by a large pickup truck. Admitting fault, the driver stated that I should not drive such a small car, and that it was not his fault he could not see it!!!!!!! Fortunately it was minor, and the body shop was able to pop most of the dent out and use minimal filler. I get it....but now I park EVERY car I own out in the boonies away from everyone!!


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post #19 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-11-2019, 04:22 AM
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This is horrible, but in the whole scheme of things, about as minor as you can expect. Another 2-3 miles an hour impact would have made things a lot more complicated. Please keep us in the loop as repairs progress and your satisfaction level. I am in Lansing area just west of you. Hopefully I will never need the services of a body shop, but curious how this one works out in case I ever do. Good Luck.
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post #20 of 56 (permalink) Old 08-11-2019, 04:49 AM
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This is an easy fix but what no one has mentioned is that it cannot be repaired with conventional polyester resin and glass like you would repair a boat or an old Vette. The GRP material requires a specialty epoxy based repair material, but I'm sure what ever shop you bring it to will be able to handle it.

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