The Ultimate Guide To Car Dent Repair – Tips and Techniques To Repair Dents at Home

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Dents can be a real hassle. Whether from a minor fender bender, a falling tree limb, or just general wear and tear, dents are unsightly and can take away from the beauty of your car. They can also reduce its resale value, so it’s essential to get them repaired as soon as possible.

While it’s always best to take your vehicle to a professional body shop, a few methods can be used at home to fix the damage. Whichever method you use, you will first want to wash the vehicle area where the dents are located with a lot of soapy water and rinse thoroughly. You will also want a light source that can shift obliquely over the dented area to see clearly. With that established, let’s take a look at five different methods for car dent repair.

A small, red car which has a dent in its door.
Photo by Adam Griffith on Unsplash

The Ultimate Guide to Car Dent Repair

Plunger Method

It may sound like something you’d see at a 3rd-grade science fair, but this technique works. You can use a plunger (the kind you would unclog a sink) to get small- and medium-sized dents out of your car. The key is to wet both the dent and the plunger. It would be best if you also were sure to use a cup plunger (for sinks) and not a flange (used for toilets).

First, pour boiling water over the dent, as this will cause the metal to expand. Sometimes, the dent will then pop itself out, otherwise, you will need to use the plunger to push it back into place. You may have to repeat this process before the dent comes out ultimately. This method can be used on plastic parts of your car, but it won’t work for metal ones. Be sure to wear gloves when using this method.

For more minor dents, the simple plunger method can be enough to pull the dent out from the inside. However, if your dent is more significant or involves paint damage, you’ll need to use one of the other methods to fix it.

Paintless Dent Repair

Dents in your vehicle are not only unsightly, but they can also affect its aerodynamics and performance. Traditionally, they require extensive restoration work to repair. However, paintless dent repair (PDR) can make restoring your car to its original condition much more accessible.

PDR is a car dent repair involving a specialised tool to massage the dent out from the inside of the body panel. This can be difficult, especially if the dent is sharp and deep. In this case, it can help to have a good light source and a reflective LED line board to assist with the process.

Before beginning, the area must be thoroughly washed and dried. This will prevent smudging and scratching the paint with dirt from your tools or fingers.

Heat Method

While some believe leaving a car in the sun can help repair dents, this myth may not work. A better method is to use a hair dryer and dry ice to heat the metal surface and then rapidly cool it. This will change the surface’s expansion and contraction, causing the dent to pop out.

However, it would be best not to overheat the area or damage the paint. You should also ensure you can reach the back of the dent to apply force if needed.

Hammer and Dolly Method

If you have access to both sides of the dent, one of the best methods of car dent repair is the hammer and dolly method. This allows you to gently hammer out the dent. It’s best to start from the outer side of the dent where the damage is minor, and work inwards to the centre, as this will minimise stretching of the metal.

Vacuum Method

The vacuum method works similarly to the plunger method in that it creates a vacuum to pull out the dent. Find a pot that has a hole in the bottom, or create a small hole in the bottom of a bucket. Start by taping the pot or bucket around the dent to make it as airtight as possible. Then, place your vacuum cleaner hose over the hole and turn on your vacuum. The suction may be enough to pull the dent out.

Related post: 25 Useful Items You Should Keep In Your Car

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The Ultimate Guide To Car Dent Repair - Tips and Techniques To Repair Dents at Home


  1. Lauren says:

    This is going to be such a helpful post for drivers I am going to start learning to drive soon. Thank you for sharing.

    Lauren -bournemouthgirl

    1. Sophie says:

      I’m glad you found it helpful – good luck with your driving lessons!

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