There are many ways to fix a car dent. And you can do so yourself with the help of a few easy-to-find tools. Getting a dent in your car is inevitable even if you’re a slow driver. Getting a dent in your car isn’t always your fault, so there are benefits to knowing a little more about the workings of your car.
Whether you drive a truck or a car, investing in mechanical repair and professional assistance is not always the convenient thing to do. Especially when you’re with something as simple and inconsequential as a dent. And if you plan to take your car to an auto repair shop, there’s no saying what extra “repairs” they’ll charge you for.
An inexpensive and easier alternative to that would be to carry out basic repairs yourself. You can use common household items such as a hair dryer (yes, that’s right!) to remove dents from your car easily. Want to know more? Dive right in!
1. Evaluating The Car Dent
If you have more than one car dent, especially small-to-medium sized, it’s important to examine your car through and through. Followed by that measure the size of your car dent. Such an evaluation will determine the type of removal method that best suits the dent.
More importantly, if you don’t know exactly where on the trunk, hook, roof, door, or fender on the car is your dent, how else would you succeed at fixing it? If the car dent is located on the metal panels that runs along the edges or on a broad flat surface, it gets much easier to fix after evaluation.
Measure the surface area of the dent, using a diameter scale. You can inspect shallow dents without taking scratches or paint damage into consideration. So now you know what you’re working with.
The next step is to get all important materials needed to fix your car dent. The basic materials needed for fixing a dent are thick rubber gloves, aluminum foil, a packet of dry ice, and a can of compressed air. (1)
Here is a simple run-down of the common dent-prone parts of a car.
Flat panel car dents
Flat panel car dents often occur in the flat portion of hoods, trunks, or the fender. If the dent is clearly visible on the inside of the metal panel, you can apply a moderate amount of pressure to suck the dent out. If this doesn’t work, using specialty tools such as dolly tools can allow the metal panel to return back to its original shape.
This is the most common type of car dent found. For such a dent, you can use body-reshaping tools to repair the affected area. Other equipment such as a hair dryer with compressed air, a cooling agent such as dry ice, or wooden dowels should do the trick.
Wrinkled sheet panel
This is when the dent is larger and deeper than a flat panel car dent. This generally occurs on the top of a fender. Different techniques such as the pulling technique, body-reshaping tools, and drilling technique can repair such a dent. For a dent this serious, you have to take your car to an auto body repair shop.
A wrinkled sheet panel dent requires a paint job with grinding, sanding, and filling dents with primer and body fillers.
2. Fixing Your Car Dent With A Hair Dryer
You can use a common hair dryer to fix a car dent if it’s not too ravaged. With a hair dryer a dent is fixed in less than 10 minutes, all you need is a hair dryer and a can of computer duster spray.
You can also use compressed air instead of computer duster spray. But here’s how simple it is to use a hair dryer with a duster spray for fixing a car dent.
Heat the affected metal panel of your car with a hair dryer. Lock the hair dryer toward the dented area for around 30 seconds. You can move the hairdryer in a clockwise direction to make sure the entire dented area is heated through and through.
Put down the hair dryer and immediately spray the heated area with computer duster spray. But make sure you’re holding the cab upside-down. The CO2 in the can, which is super-cold, will impact the surface of the dent. Just to be safe, wear thick rubber-coated gloves for extra protection.
Once you’re done spraying the dented area, wait for a couple of seconds. Soon you’ll see the dented metal panel pooping and reshaping into its original flat shape.
In hindsight, this is a very popular method for removing car dents without paying a significant amount in repairs. This usually works for small car dents that haven’t done much damage to the car.
2. Fixing Your Car Dent With Compressed Air
You can pop out a car dent in seconds with the use of a heat gun and compressed air. This method is ideal for small-to-medium sized car dents with little paint damage and scratches. You can do this without spoiling the paint or a car scratch remover.
Start off by heating the dented area with a heat gun. Keep the heat gun slightly at a distance since it runs only at the highest temperatures. This expands the plastic of the car which when it’s hot enough will contract to get back into its original shape.
As soon as the metal panel of the dented area is hot enough, take a can full of compressed air, position it upside down, and spray the heated area. The sharp cold air of the compressed air will cause the plastic of the car to contract and reshape. You will immediately hear a pop sound and the dent will pop out easily.
This same method applies to when you’re using a standard can of air with a heat gun. If compressed air is hard to find, any freezing agent will also do. The point is to impact the heated area with stinging cold air so the metal panel contracts and pops out. A freezing agent is more than capable for a task like this.
3. Fixing Your Car Dent With A Plunger
This may sound a bit far-fetched, but just as you would unclog a drain with a household plunger, you can fix a car dent with a plunger too. Unless the car dent is too nasty, a plunger is the easiest tool to fix small car dents in a matter of seconds.
If you’re dealing with a shallow and small-sized dent, it’s worth trying your hand at fixing it with a dent. Although this won’t work if your car dent is larger in diameter, sharper, and deep. Then you probably need a much stronger agent to fix it or an auto repair shop.
That said, here’s what you need to do to fix the car dent with a plunger.
Apply some water on the cup of the plunger and on the dented area itself. And pull and push the plunger, as you would a drain, on the dent until you notice a slight change in the metal panel.
You can focus on each dent more vigorously to get the dent to pop out. There are two main kinds of plungers for this job: a cup plunger which you use for unclogging sinks and a flange one which you use for toilets. The former is more powerful at fixing car dents than the latter. But in case you can’t fix your car dent with a cup plunger, there’s no harm in using a flange plunger. (2)
4. Fixing Car Dents With Boiling Water
Another basic agent for fixing car dents is boiling water. Fetching a bowl of hot, boiling water is not hard at all. This DIY is the easiest way to go to fix miniature car dents on your bumper or doors. You can use boiling water along with car wash soap to remove dents without it ruining the paint of your car.
For example, if you found a small-sized and shallow dent right on the bump of the car, splash some really hot water on it. Then reach under the wheel and pop out the dent. The heat allows the metal panel to expand and become malleable for a few seconds before it cools down again.
So you have to be really quick and push the underside of the bumper for it to pop back into its right place. If this works, pour cold water immediately afterwards for the dented area to shrink and become inflexible.
A word of caution: this method might not work for older models that have urethane body parts. Even though newer models are made of urethane parts, there is a possibility you might ruin the paint job on older cars.
If the dent is slightly bigger than your expectations, detaching the bumper and wheel is important. That way you have more flexibility while getting the job done right the first time. Ideally, you shouldn’t have to spend more than 10 minutes on fixing your car dent with boiling water. (3)
5. Fixing Your Car Dent With Dry Ice
Using dry ice for fixing car dents is as effective as using a heat gun with compressed air or a hair dryer with computer duster spray. Dry ice is a cooling agent which has a similar effect on heated surfaces as compressed air. The heat acts with the cold forces to shift the metal panel which then constricts and sucks out the car dent.
All you have to do is buy dry ice which saves the cost of going to an auto body repair shop. You will also need aluminum foil, a pair of thick rubber-coated gloves, and a hair dryer or a heat gun.
Insulate the dented panel with aluminum foil and direct the heat of a hair dryer or a heat gun towards it. Make sure to keep the source of heat at least 7 inches away from the dented area. Overheating the metal panel can result in paint damage. Do this for at least 3 minutes, until the metal panel feels warm to touch.
With the aluminum foil covering the dented area, put on the rubber gloves and press a piece of dry ice against the panel. Move the dry ice around on the foil sticking to the dented panel to cool it down. The sudden shift in temperature, from hot to cold, will suck the dent out. Even if minor dents persist, you can repeat this process twice until you are satisfied with the results.
6. Creating A Strong Suction To Fix A Car Dent
This is a slightly complicated method of fixing car dents, but it’s highly effective. You can create your own suction with the right amount of power to suck out a car dent. That said, all you need is a high-powered household vacuum cleaner, a flower pot, and some tape.
Here is a simple way to create your own suction.
- Measure the vacuum’s suction diameter and cut a small hole, with the same measurement, at the bottom of the pot. You need to ensure the hole is small enough so that the vacuum cleaner’s hose encloses it.
- Join the vacuum cleaner to the pot and tape the top edge of the pot to the dent. Make sure the mouth of the pot surrounds the dent. And ensure it is airtight and enclosed.
- Switch the vacuum cleaner to a high power and wait until the dent pops out to its original shape.
- Repeat this process a few times if the dent stays the same. Moving the suction around the dent can help enhance the suction power.
7. Fixing Your Car With Body Filler
Body filler is also known as “Bondo” which is made up of durable plastic resin. Body fillers are malleable enough to be sanded or shaped. It is the most effective agent for fixing dents that are too big to ignore.
To fix your car dent with filler you’ll need a couple of materials. They include a sandpaper block, safety gear (gloves, goggles, and a mask), a plastic spreader, primer, a spray bottle, spot putty, and sandpaper.
Fixing your bumper with body fillers take more time than the previous methods. So taking a 2-3 hours out of your day is essential.
The first thing you have to do is prepare the dented surface with sand the paint off. The sandpaper reduces the damaged area down to its metal surface, removing all the paint. For this job, body fillers don’t work well with paint so this step is important.
Prepare the body filler by combing the crème hardener with the base filler. The fillers take about 5 minutes to harden completely, so you’ll need to act quick in order to get the job done. You can use a plastic spreader to combine the two agents effectively.
With the help of the plastic spreader, coat the filler on top of the dented area. Allow the filler to completely harden and proceed sanding the metal panel over the surface in circles. Cover the sanding block with sandpaper to carry out this step.
Use spot putty, which is a different kind of body filler, on the surface. You can apply it directly from the tube as it doesn’t need to be mixed. Although spot putter dries way faster than a body filler, act quick while spreading it on the dented surface using a plastic spreader.
Continue sanding the affected area with sandpaper, using a 350-400 grit sandpaper. Sand until there are only tiny amounts of putty remaining in gaps. Spray the entire area with a primer marking off the non-affected areas with tape. This is when you need to put on your safety gear to avoid any injuries.
Sand the area one last time after spray a coat of water on the repair area and the sand paper. Repairing car dents using a body filler is time-consuming, but it’s surely worth the effort. (4)
8. Fixing Your Car Dent With Wooden Dowels
The best way to fix anything is to not to do any further damage. And when you attempt to fix car dents yourself, putting your car at risk is a possibility. Which is why you need this to help you get to the bottom of what’s the right method of fixing a car dent.
- Having said that, you can pull your dent out with the help of hot glue, some screws, and wooden dowels. It might sound complicated to some of you, but once you jot down each step carefully, it’s not that hard.
- Using hot glue, place a screw on each side of the wooden dowel. Make sure the screws are glued well to the wooden dowel.
- Apply hot glue on the bottom of the wooden dowel and place it on and around the dented area. Repeat this with a few wooden dowels until the dented area is covered. Don’t stick the wooden dowels together on the surface. Make sure they’re well distributed around the area.
- Once you place each wooden dowel on the surface, give the hot glue a few seconds to shrink and tighten. The proceed pulling each wooden dowel by the screws until the dent pop outs.
Using Paintless Car Dent Repairs
As far as car dents are concerned, you either do fix it yourself or hire a professional. The latter costs you more money, but it definitely is a sure-fire way deal with car damage. The former, however, isn’t at that expensive and is educational.
Avoiding the hassle of taking your car to the auto body repair shop. It’s tempting, isn’t it? But fixing car dents on your own isn’t simple at all. It requires the right equipment and handle at different technique. That’s why you need this pro guide to help you get started.
You can also opt for paintless dent repair which approaches the dented areas from inside rather than outside. So when you’re dealing with a minor dent on the bumper, you fix it by turning the bumper upside down. As complicated as this might sound to some of you, it actually works!
For example, if you’ve noticed a dent near the top of a fender- you can’t just reach for under the engine to push the dent out. That just isn’t right. Not to mention, it’s impossible too! Anyone who knows cars can resonate when I say that the parts of a car on the outside are very different from the inside.
To put into simple words, what you see on the outside is not the same as what’s going on inside. So the first stepping to carrying out paintless dent repair is understanding the different parts that make up your car.
Compared with professional assistance, a mechanic would be able to identify immediately which part needs to be removed from the inside to fix a dent on the outside. They do this quickly, effectively, and without damaging the paint job or engine. But this is a pricey endeavor, which most of you try to avoid unless the damage is really bad.
You can even make use of unique repair kits and specialty tools to fix a dent. They’re generally inexpensive and can be purchased online. But buying a cheap dent repair kit is a complete no-no because for any kind of car repair, price definitely dictates quality. (5)
If you’ve given any of these methods a try, which one do you think is the most effective? Repairing a car dent, at a low cost, is possible if you’re doing it yourself. First, you need to evaluate the damage done to your car. If the dent looks too prominent, you need to take your car to an auto body repair shop. But if it isn’t, any one of my methods to fix car dents will work.
After hours of research and testing, these are the best ways to fix car dents you’ll find anywhere. You never have to settle for mediocre again. Besides, spending more time fixing minor damages to your own car is important. That way, you feel completely satisfied after the dent has been fixed and you don’t have to rely on outside help everything you accidentally hit a light post or a shopping cart hits your bumper in a parking lot.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.