However it happens – a parking lot, hail damage, or just your kids playing ball – a car dent can be extremely frustrating. Your car now looks less than perfect and repairing it costs money. In an effort to help, we consulted with a professional and he shared a few dent repair tricks that you can try at home. For minor damage, these techniques could save you money.
5 Methods Used to Remove Small Dents in Cars
- Boiling Water
- Compressed Air & Hair Dryer
- Dry Ice
- Specialty Tool
The boiling water method requires the least amount of effort and is really only effective for plastic bumpers. Simply boil some water, pour it over the dent, and then reach behind and pop it out. Finally, pouring hot water over a dent softens the material, allowing it to flex.
To complete this method, simply pour boiling water over the dent, reach behind the damaged bumper, and press it back into its normal shape. Once you are satisfied with the repair, pour cool water over the area to set the material and avoid any further reshaping.
It is important to note the obvious: boiling water is hot. Take appropriate precautions. Wear gloves and work quickly. Avoid using this method during winter weather as bad things can happen when boiling water is poured on materials that are below freezing.
Compressed Air & Hair Dryer
This method requires only a can of compressed air and a hair dryer. The first step is to heat the dent area with the hair dryer on the highest setting. This should be done while maintaining a distance of at least 6 inches. The dent should be heated until it feels hot, but caution should be used to prevent damaging the paint. Don’t allow the hair dryer to linger too long in one spot.
Once the dent is hot enough, turn a compressed air can upside down and spray it over the region of the dent. When a can of compressed air is turned upside down, depressing the nozzle will produce a freezing liquid, rather than a strong puff of air. The rapid temperature reduction encourages the metal to contract, reducing the size of the dent and, in some cases, removing the dent entirely.
A word of caution: the liquid that is produced by a can of compressed air is cold enough to cause instant frostbite. Wear gloves and eye protection.
Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide. Yes, it is cold. The surface temperature of dry ice is -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t touch it with your bare hands. To use this technique, put on a pair of protective gloves and rub the dry ice on the dent. Continue until the dent is gone or sufficiently reduced in size. It is sometimes helpful to preheat the dent with a hair dryer, as with the canned air method. Both of these methods work to contract the metal with a rapid drop in temperature.
Grab a suction cup, stick it to the dent, and pull. Smaller suction cups and plungers work better for this task than larger plungers (like toilet plungers) that are likely to cover too much surface area to be effective. Collision repair centers sometimes use a technique similar to this to remove dents and straighten body panels. Of course, they use tools that are a bit more effective (and expensive).
Fortunately, many dents can be removed or reduced with this method. When affixing the suction cup to the dent, be certain not to push any harder than is required to get a good seal. Pull on the tool to raise the dent back to flush. You will find that the metal will retract a bit after each pull, so you may have to do this several times to remove the dent. Stick with it and you may be rewarded with impressive results.
While specialty dent removal tools are readily available for purchase, they are expensive and require a good deal of training to use properly. Professional dent removal tools are inserted through an appropriate access point. Then, the dent can be massaged out from behind the damaged panel.
There are several sizes, shapes, and styles of paintless dent removal tools. If you choose to take this route, do yourself a favor and get some training. Professional paintless dent removal (PDR) services are popular because they are less expensive than a collision shop.
Minor dent removal is something that most vehicle owners can tackle. There are some dent types that are best left to the professionals. If your dent is deep or has a crease running through it, you will likely be unable to produce a satisfactory repair without the proper tools and training. Fortunately, many of the dings and dents of daily driving can be addressed by a willing do-it-yourselfer with only a small amount of effort.