We're all guilty of putting things off, but there one thing you really shouldn't be leaving to the last minute, and that's bodywork repairs to your car.

Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging car owners to have any damage put right as soon as possible.

Not only is delaying a bodywork repair a safety risk, but the longer you wait, the more expensive it gets, and it could even lead to an MOT failure.

Car with rear door skin panel damage

"If it’s a large dent, most people will get it fixed right away. But when it’s only a small dent, it can be easy to put off. You tell yourself it doesn’t look good but it’s only a minor blemish. Or, the car is getting older, so a minor dent here and there doesn’t really matter," said GEM Motoring Assist’s road safety officer Neil Worth. "Or you tell yourself you’ll get it fixed sooner or later, just not today. So, you put it on the back burner of your to-do list and somehow it never seems to get done."

Car with fender wing body damage

"Next thing you know, six months or a year have gone by and that car dent is still there. And who knows what’s happening to your car underneath the dent?"

If you're still not convinced, why not take a look at this handy list of points compiled by GEM Motoring Assist:

1 Safety

When it comes to car maintenance, safety is always the top priority. Even small dents can hide underlying structural damage that isn’t obvious on the surface. For example, today’s flexible bumper covers with plastic outer coatings are designed to minimise damage in low-speed collisions. Yet, the underlying damage can often be much worse than it looks on the surface – and that could compromise safety for you and your passengers.

2 Rust issues

Dents cause unsightly blemishes on your car. But a further problem is that a dent damages the paintwork. Cracks caused by even a very small impact can allow water to seep underneath the paint where it will reach the unprotected metal part of the car. Over time, the water will cause the metal to oxidise, causing rust.

3 Longer-term paint damage

When you ignore the damage that occurs with a dent, the paintwork isn’t going to get better. Weather conditions, everyday wear-and-tear, and even washing your car can cause the cracks in the paint to grow larger. This can lead to flaking and peeling, leaving the underlying sealant exposed. If the car dent is severe enough to damage the sealant as well, peeling paint can leave bare metal exposed. Once this happens, it’s only a matter of time before it starts to rust.

4 Reduced resale value

No matter how well your car runs, the exterior appearance is a vital factor when it comes to selling. Few things lower the value of a used car as effectively as unrepaired damage, even if it appears minor. Add paint damage and rust spots and the price a buyer is willing to pay goes down even more. Furthermore, unrepaired dents are a sign of a neglectful owner. Potential buyers may wonder what else is wrong with the car because you didn’t take care of the engine, brakes, or other parts. Unless your car is old and in poor condition overall, fixing any dents should bring you a better price.

5 Cheaper to put right

Repairing car dents right away will always cost less than if you wait. It doesn’t take long for rust spots to appear or paint to start flaking away. In times of bad weather, or if there’s a lot of salt in the air (as you’ll find in coastal locations), the damage will spread even faster.

6 Pride

If you care about your car’s appearance, it doesn’t make sense to leave a dent unrepaired. So, the next time someone opens their car door into yours or you bump into someone else when parking, don’t wait. Get the damage assessed and repaired by experts.

Car rear door quarter panel leg body damage