There is nothing worse than finding, or let’s be real sometimes making a dent in your vehicle. Whether the culprit was a parked car that “came out of nowhere”, your neighbors kid practicing for their little league game, or a runaway shopping cart, fresh car damage can put a dent in your whole week.
Now that the damage is done, the next step is figuring out if you can and should remove the dent. You have a few options. You can take your car into a body shop for a quote, but be prepared for a bit of sticker shock when you discuss the cost of dent removal.
They will likely tell you that you need to remove the paint and that they need to use a body filler to fix the dent and the prices can be a bit outrageous for these services for the average hard working person.
Body filler is a substance used by body shops to fill in spaces that can be left behind when dents are pulled out. Using body filler means that you will have to repaint at least that portion of the car.
Personally, if it is between removing a small dent and saving $500 then I will look at that dent all day long. Luckily there are a variety of options for removing a dent yourself so you don’t necessarily have to choose between those two.
There are a few methods we recommend and they will work well for different types of dents.
- Use a plunger
- Boiling water
- Hair dryer and compressed air
- Dry ice
- Vacuum cleaner and pot
- Hot glue, wooden dowels and screws
- Your best option: purchase a specialty tool kit for removing dents at home
A plunger is an essential item to have around the house especially when certain relatives come to visit. Did you know that your standard sink style of plunger can also be used on your vehicle for getting out small dents? Now in most cases it won’t be perfect like what you would get as a finished product from a body shop, but with less severe dents you can see like new results. It’s worth a shot right?
Type of dent: Small to medium dents
Tip: be sure you are using the style of plunger that is made for a sink NOT for a toilet.
Technique: Use water to create a suction between the plunger and the surface of the vehicle. Gently push and pull the plunger against the surface of the car where the dent is located and continue until the dent pops out. If this doesn’t work for you, feel free to try one of the other methods here.
Method: Boiling Water
The next highly effective way of removing a dent is by pouring boiling water onto it. This method is meant for areas of the vehicle where you are able to physically access the reverse side of the dent and apply pressure to pop the dent back out. It is most effective on plastic pieces that are not malleable before heat is applied but become more flexible with heat.
Type of dent: plastic bumper
Tip: Be sure to apply pressure to the softened plastic right away from the reverse side of the dent. Always be careful when using boiling liquids.
Technique: remove the bumper or get yourself access to the reverse side of the plastic part before heating water. Using a large pot or a tea kettle heat several cups of water until boiling. Immediately apply the water to the dent once removed from the heat and then push out the dent from the other side. You may find you need to repeat this process more than once or that the area of your dent requires more heat applied at once so use as much boiling water as necessary and repeat as needed.
Method: Hair Dryer And Compressed Air
If the dent is in a plastic area that you cannot remove and don’t have access to the reverse side of the dent, then this method is for you. Much like the boiling water method this one uses heat to remove the dent, however it uses the cold air from the can of compressed air instead of physical force to pop the dent out.
Type of dent: any plastic piece ranging from small to medium. Can be effective on larger dents but you may need more than one person doing these steps at the same time to resolve the issue.
Tip: have more than one can of compressed air on hand as this doesn’t always work the first time.
Technique: using a hair dryer, apply heat to the surface of the dent using the hottest setting. The heat will cause the material to expand which you may or may not be able to see. Heat the dent for 3-5 minutes, then immediately use the can of compressed air to rapidly cool the surface. POP. The dent should pop out thanks to the snap of cold air you have applied. You may need to do this more than once to see results.
We recommend using the brand Dust Off for compressed air cans. You can buy these either as a single can, a set of two, or as a four pack using the links below.
Method: Dry Ice
Dry ice is a fascinating chemical. Frozen CO2 will find a solid form as dry ice, but the substance must be kept extremely cold to prevent it from evaporating. You can buy dry ice at your local grocery store or at a halloween or costume store as it is used to create “smoke” or “fog” when put into water. You can also use dry ice to remove small dents!
Type of dent: any small to medium sized dent in metal or plastic
Tips: be sure to wear protective glasses and gloves as working with dry ice can be dangerous if handled inappropriately. Dry ice can damage skin with “burns” due to its temperature so be sure to protect your skin from direct contact.
Technique: Apply the dry ice directly to the dent being sure to protect your skin. The dent should pop out. Consider heating the surface with a hair dryer and then applying dry ice if the dent doesn’t come out after several attempts of this method.
Method: Vacuum Cleaner And A Pot
When all else fails you can use suction to attempt to remove the dent. A vacuum cleaner paired with a pot or some form of bowl that you can create a seal with will do the trick.
Type of dent: non shallow small to medium sized dent
Tips: A shop vacuum is going to be more powerful than your standard vacuum in your home. Consider renting a shop vac if you do not have one from a friend, family member or neighbor. You can also rent one from a hardware store like Home Depot or Lowes. Make sure whatever pot you are using has a hole in the bottom or else this method will not work.
Technique: Place the pot over the dent and use the hose attachment of the vacuum to cover the hole in the pot. Now turn the vacuum cleaner on and you should hear a pop to let you know that the dent has been popped back out and into place. You can also use a bucket if your dent is on the larger side or a bowl, just be sure to put a hole in whatever you are using to create suction.
Method: Wooden Dowels, Screws and Hot Glue
If you have a larger dent that won’t fit in the boundaries of a pot or bucket, this method is for you. The great thing about using the wooden dowels to pull out a dent is that you can use it on essentially any dent no matter the size or shape.
Type of dent: this method is good for medium to larger sized dents or small dents that are extra stubborn or oddly shaped.
Tips: Test the hot glue on a dowel on an inconspicuous area of your vehicle to ensure that this method is safe to use on your paint.
Technique: Estimate how many dowels you will need by gauging the size and shape of the dent. You will want to place a dowel every square inch of the dent. Once you have roughly estimated the number of dowels that you need you are going to want to arrange two screws towards the end of the dowel opposite of each other. The screws will essentially serve as finger holds when you pull out the dent.
Now that you have the dowels ready for application, heat a standard hot glue gun. Be sure not to use an industrial style hot glue gun as the heat of the glue could cause damage to your car. Apply a substantial amount of glue to the base of the dowel (on the end without the screws) and immediately apply the dowel to the car. Repeat until you have covered the entirety of the dent.
Wait at least ten minutes for the glue to dry completely and one by one pull out the dowels. For larger dents you may want a friend to pull the dowels at the same time as you. As you pull out the dowels the dent should pop out. Repeat as needed.
Method: Specialty Tool
The final method we recommend is using tools especially designed for removing dents. Realistically this is going to be your best option. You can find these types of devices on amazon. There are a few different packages for you to choose from. Here are a few staff approved selections.
Ranking #1: GLISTON 45pcs Paintless Dent Repair Tool Dent Puller Kit
This is a professional quality kit that contains anything and everything you could possibly need for removing a dent from your car at home without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars at a body shop. I prefer this kit on the principle that you never know what you might need for a dent. With a favorable price point there is a lot to love about this dent repair kit. Check it out using the link below.
Ranking #2 GLISTON Auto Body Dent Repair Tools
Another Gliston product, this kit comes with a lesser amount of products than it’s step up option which came in at number 1. This is a budget friendly choice and will most likely have everything that you need for reversing your dent. Check out this kit using the link below.
Ranking #3 Kaisiking Black Aluminum Heavy Duty Suction Cup Dent Puller
This device is quite simple. It is a suction cup with an aluminum handle designed for pulling out dents in your vehicle. Quick, easy, effective and inexpensive.
Can all dents be removed?
No. This is a frequently asked question among car owners and the answer is that not all dents can or should be removed. Some large dents can’t be suctioned or pulled out because they are so large. In the cases of these types of dents, the panel, door, hood, or bumper will need to be removed completely.
In some of the cars where we find larger dents there was a significant impact that caused the damage and the car may have sustained frame damage. In these cases the frame may be cracked or bent and the car may be unsafe to drive. Unfortunately in these situations the car is likely totalled. If your dent is severe enough that you can’t pull it out yourself you should head to a body shop to have a professional check out your vehicle.
How to get a small Dent Out Of A Car
There are a few ways that you can pull out a small dent yourself at home without having to spend hundreds at the body shop. You can pull out a small dent using several methods which are detailed above. They include using boiling water, using a hair dryer and a can of compressed air, dry ice, a vacuum cleaner with some form of suction device like a bucket or a pot, and a plunger.
How To Get A Large Dent Out Of A Car
You can remove large dents using the hot glue, wooden dowels and screws method detailed in the section at the beginning of this article. The best thing to do if you are determined to remove a large dent at home is to use a dent removal kit that you can buy online. Check out our staff selections above under the Specialty Tool section.
Be cautious when trying to fix a large dent yourself. In many cases a car that was impacted severely enough to leave a large dent will have frame damage. Driving a car with frame damage
How To Get A Large Dent Out Of A Hood
The best way to get a large dent out of the hood of your vehicle is by using a dent removal kit detailed above as our 7th method for dent removal. If you don’t want to order a dent removal kit you can also try the wooden dowel, screws and hot glue method for removal which we cover in detail above.
With dents to the hood of the car you will likely not have frame damage but you want to ensure that the engine of your vehicle and parts exposed directly under the hood are in sound working condition. Consider seeing a mechanic in the case of deeper dents to the hood of your car.
In closing, getting a dent in your vehicle sucks, but is practically inevitable if you own a car for long enough. Repairing a dent at a body shop can be pricey, but with the proper tools (and with the right type of dent) you can save yourself hundreds and even thousands of dollars repairing your dent at home. Try repairing your vehicle’s dent at home using one of the seven methods above.
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