Have a small ‘ding’ that doesn’t warrant taking your prized possession to the panelbeaters? Dent removal is something that you can achieve from your home garage.
The first thing you need to know about dents is that there is an art and an incredible amount of skill that goes into removing dents from the body of a vehicle. If your car has sustained damage to the body and you want to remove the dents, your best bet is to use an expert. Not only do they have a myriad of different tools and techniques at their fingertips but they also have years of experience and skill. Those sorts of tools - and that level of skill - doesn’t come cheap, and that’s a key point: if you want a perfect finish - in other words, for the car to look the same as it was before it was damaged - then you will and can expect to pay for it. Or have your insurance cover the cost, at the very least. That being said, it is entirely possible to remove minor dents yourself.
In this Ultimate Dent Removal Guide we will discuss the different methods of dent removal as well as approximate costs, and how to distinguish which dents are fixable yourself.
Traditional dent repairs typically take more time than paintless dent removal and repair, although the process starts the same. Technicians will remove the panels, if necessary, and use specialized tools to restore the shape. They will then repair the accompanying scratches or paint chips by sanding and smoothing down the area. After the damaged area is restored to its original form and smoothed, technicians will paint the damaged area. Because traditional dent repairs have more steps to completion, it will take longer than a paintless dent removal, but often will only take about 3-4 hours.
For dents without any paint damage, technicians will use the paintless dent removal method, otherwise known as PDR. How does paintless dent removal work? It’s bit of a dark art, with plenty of secrecy around the kind of tools you need to get a perfect finish. Essentially, though, the repairer will remove any interior trims that are in the way and use tools to reshape the panel to its original form, being careful not the crack the seal of the paint. This sort of work can be done on bonnets, bumpers, fenders, doors, boot lids and roof turrets - if its metal and the paint isn’t compromised, a paintless dent repairer should be able to work it out. Because there is no paint damage, technicians won’t need to sand or paint the area. PDRs typically reach completion within a couple of hours and are less expensive than the more invasive repair options. Dents on your vehicle can really make the value of your vehicle go down and just makes it look bad. Major collision damage may need to be handled by a professional, but a lot of dents can be taken care of by a DIY enthusiast if you pick the best method for the job.
We decided to give you our top ways for removing dents out of body panels below.
Using the power of suction can be an easy way to remove light or shallow dents in a body panel. Using suction can be a simple way to fix a dent at home and with most methods there’s little risk involved. The most simple method is trying to use a regular old plunger from your bathroom (clean it first!), but there are also suction cup kits made specifically for removing dents. You simply apply the suction cup to the clean, dented area and lock the lever on the bottom. You can then use the strap on the back to pull with your hands or another method to pull the dent out.
How-to use the suction method to remove a dent:
The glue gun technique is relatively new to the home user but has been a body shop go-to for decades. When you buy a kit, as covered in our list, you’ll be given small plastic tabs. These tabs have a rough backing, thus increasing the surface area when pressed into the glue. They then serve as an anchor within the dent, allowing you to pull it out.
How to fix a dent using the glue and puller method:
Some dents can’t just be pulled out with simple methods. A basic set of hammers and dollies will allow you to hammer a larger dent out. By hammering off-dolly you can reverse many large dents and correct big issues in a few minutes. Patience and delicacy are key here, as the ham-fisted and hasty approach will only make things worse. If you’re trying to remove tiny dents, this is the best solution. The theory is that the nylon/plastic tips of the punch won’t damage the paint. And they won’t, so long as you’re careful and methodical. Check out some handy tools for dent removal: https://www.aceauto.co.za/search?search=tools
Heat can be used to remove dents or stretched metal or to help relax the dent so it can be popped out easier. If you’re trying to keep the paint intact a heat gun is best to use as you can usually dial the heat in on them and get a little hotter than a hair dryer would. Once the panel has been warmed up you can then start working it to remove the dent. On bare metal or badly damaged metal heat with a torch can be used to heat the metal nearly red hot and to let it cool to tighten up oil canned areas of metal.
On larger and more extensive damage there may already be paint damage or you’ll be repainting the panel or car. In this instance you may want to pull the dent out in an area where you can’t get a body hammer and dolly into. This is where a stud welder and slide hammer come in handy. With a stud welder kit you install a small brass colors stud into the gun and press it against the bare metal surface and hold the trigger. What it does is resistance weld the head of the stud to the panel surface. The stud sticking off can be installed into a special slide hammer you can use to slide hammer the dents out. This may take numerous steps to pull the dent out all of the way but it is one of the most efficient if there is no access to the backside of the panel.
If you only have light or shallow dents in the metal and they may be small like hail dents or door dings you can usually repair most of those with a Paintless Dent Removal Kit at home. These kits work similar to a stud welder just without heating up the metal or removing the paint. With these kits you apply a special adhesive to the cups or tabs and apply it directly over the dented area. The special puller included then attaches to the tab and you can pull lightly with it. The tabs are securely fastened with the glue for pulling but just take a little acetone or similar cleaner to soften up and allow you to remove the tabs with the glue without harming the metal. PDR kits take some practice to get glass straight panels but even a first time user can get a dent 90% of the way out with one of these kits they’re so simple
Will this be your first time doing any sort of DIY? Don’t be fooled by the friend, family member or colleague who consistently bangs on about how incredibly simple it all is. Here are three top tips to consider before committing to fixing that dent.
Our number one piece of advice is always to remain safe. If, after reading this article, you feel that attempting any of the above methods could cause injury or if you feel it would be too complicated for you to tackle alone, to arise, then please rethink this DIY project.
Many of the proposed methods above require a financial outlay for tools and equipment as well as a pair of handyman gloves and safety goggles in order to complete the task. Only attempt a method if you have everything you could ever need close by.
The best dent removal kits might be able to help drivers erase an embarrassing mistake, and most cost less than going to a body shop to get the work done however this might not always be the best option for you. Repairs are at your own risk. Hundreds upon thousands of DIYers have ended up making a car dent bigger or even worse, subsequently damaging the overall integrity of their car. For example, when a dent is incredibly sharp it’s impossible to retain its original shape, as the metal has been stretched out too far. Another case is if a dent is so huge that your car has basically been bashed in. In these extreme cases, it’s best to take your vehicle to a body shop. Although it will certainly be a costly alternative, these guys are professionals for a reason and usually more experienced than your average handyman.