Originally Posted by Andejo
Wow, nice to see another Ecodiesel owner in Boston! I see Grand Cherokees on the road all the time, but I've only seen two or three other diesels out there.
Sorry to hear about your accident. Mine is my first ever brand-new car and I also worry about something happening to it, especially while parked.
But, there is some good news in my opinion. Unlike sheetmetal damage that's hard to repair properly, and might never look right and/or could even rust again, all of the damage to your car is non-structural.
Tail light: As you said, you can buy the part, install it yourself, and it'll be as good as new. But before you buy, do you have any interest in LED? You can buy all four tail lights in LED on Amazon for just under $300, and the tailgate pieces will also light up when you step on the brakes. I bought a set but I haven't had time to install them yet.
Bumper: Again, the good news is that the bumper cover is not a part of the car's metal body, and it's completely removeable/replacable, so there's really no "wrong" way to go about fixing it, other than budget.
If you make an inexpensive fix and you don't like it.....well, it's no fun to pay twice, but at least you can always replace/repair/repaint as many times as you like. It's not like, say, a quarter panel repair where bad work would cause rust later on.
So the first thing is that since it won't rust or get worse, there's no hurry to fix it other than looks.
I've seen the guys who go to car dealers and make quick repairs out in the parking lot. They would sand/repair the gouges in the plastic, spray some paint over the repaired area, and try to "blend" it into the rest of the bumper. It's OK for a 10 year old economy car on a budget, but honestly most of the work I've seen doesn't look very good at all. I wouldn't do it this way on a nice brand new car.
Probably the right way would be for body shop to repair the gouges, and prep and paint the entire bumper cover as a unit. I'm not sure if they'd opt to mask around and do the repair on the car, of if they'd remove and reinstall the bumper cover. I get the impression that the going rate for decent body work is $250-350 per panel. (Panel meaning door, hood, bumper, whatever. You only have one panel that's damaged.)
One other idea if you're on a budget and just want to make it look halfway decent. Lightly sand down the gouges so they look a little smoother. Wash and dry the area. Clean the area of any kind of car wax or grease with a solvent like lacquer thinner. Buy some spray touch-up paint in your car's color. Take a lint-free rag and wet it with lacquer thinner. Spray some paint on the wet part of the rag. Using the rag, wipe the paint along in the same direction as the gouges. Again, it won't look perfect, but it should draw the eye away from the damage and make it look acceptable until you have the time/budget for body shop repair.