Dent repair can be an extremely expensive process, especially if you plan to paint the car afterward. If your vehicle has small dents and dents, you can probably repair them yourself using hand tools or common chemicals (available from a number of local retail stores). Remember that the decision to repair dents can lead to paint damage, making vehicle repair even more expensive in the long run. You should evaluate whether or not you can repair a dent based on your comfort with the process and your ability to handle the necessary tools.
Method 1 of 4: Repair dents with a plunger
Step 1. Assess the size and location of the dent
Using a plunger works best for large, shallow dents on flat body components (such as the door or hood). Whether you use a bathroom plunger or an automotive plunger designed for dent repair, neither will be able to remove roughness from steel, it will only serve to straighten dents.
- If the dent is smaller than a coin, a plunger may not solve the problem.
- The flatter the body panel, the better this method will work.
Step 2. Get a clean plunger
You can actually use a similarly effective bathroom plunger for this method, as can a dent repair tool you can get from an auto parts store. Repair tools are likely to have a higher success rate on more difficult dents.
- You should use a clean plunger to avoid generating residue on the vehicle's paint.
- Automotive tools tend to be a bit more expensive than bathroom plungers.
Step 3. Dampen the rubber edge of the plunger
Use a little water and a cloth to moisten the suction surface of the plunger. This will create a seal against the vehicle that will allow you to pull on the plunger to suck up and straighten the metal.
Make sure to use clean water to avoid damaging the paint
Step 4. Place the plunger over the dent and press it onto the vehicle
If the dent is larger than the circumference of the plunger, you should start at the edges. If it is smaller than the plunger, you should place it directly in the center. Then, press the plunger onto the vehicle.
- You will likely have to repeat the procedure from multiple angles on larger dents.
- As you run the plunger along the dent, make sure to position it over the dented area.
Step 5. Pull the plunger several times
You should pull the plunger quickly, making sudden movements just as you would to unclog a toilet. The plunger can fly out before you straighten the dent, so be prepared to wet it again and start the process again.
- It will likely take several attempts to straighten a dent in the metal.
- Quick, short strokes will yield the best results when straightening dents on steel.
Method 2 of 4: straightening dents with dry ice
Step 1. Evaluate the angle of the dent
You need to apply the dry ice to the dent for a short time to straighten it effectively, so this method will work best on horizontal surfaces (such as the hood, roof, or trunk of the vehicle). If the dent is on the side, you should use pliers to hold the dry ice in place.
- You can find dry ice at a number of large retail stores or office supply stores.
- Dry ice works best on medium-sized dents and may be less effective on large ones.
Step 2. Wear safety glasses and gloves
You should always wear safety glasses and sturdy gloves when handling dry ice. Due to its extreme temperature, the contact of dry ice on bare skin could cause serious harm.
- For this project, you need to wear large rubber gloves and goggles like swimming goggles.
- Do not open the dry ice pack until you have put on the proper safety gear.
Step 3. Use the tweezers to apply some dry ice to the dent
You should use long metal tweezers to take a piece of dry ice and apply it directly to the dent. If the dent is on a horizontal surface, you can place the dry ice on it; otherwise, you are going to have to hold it there. Allow the dry ice to come in contact with the metal for thirty seconds to a minute before removing it again.
- You should be sure to use tweezers and gloves to avoid burns if you are going to hold the dry ice in place.
- Avoid leaving dry ice on the paint for more than a minute, as it could damage it.
Step 4. Allow the dent to interact with the ambient air
After removing the dry ice from the metal, the heat in the ambient air will interact with the extreme cold generated by the ice. This interaction will cause the metal to shift and the dent to straighten.
- Intense cold will cause the metal to contract and then expand again as it heats up.
- This change in temperature can cause the dent to straighten.
Step 5. Repeat the process as necessary
Depending on the size and severity of the dent, you may need to apply dry ice and let it reheat several times to completely straighten the dent. You should repeat the process until the dent is gone.
- Allow the metal to return to normal temperature before reapplying the dry ice to it.
- You should examine the clear coating on the metal. If it starts to crack, you should stop applying the dry ice immediately.
Method 3 of 4: Repair dents from the back
Step 1. Assess the location of the dent
You can better access certain dents from the back. This is especially true for very small diameter dents that are difficult to repair with other methods. Determine if the dent you intend to repair is somewhere that you can access by removing the body components.
- You may need to remove body components to access a dent from the rear.
- Determine if you can access the dent based on the tools you have on hand and your level of experience in removing and replacing body panels.
Step 2. Remove body components as needed
Once you have identified the body components you need to remove to access the dent, you will need to spread blankets on the ground to place any painted parts. You may also need to install the fenders from the bottom of the vehicle, the tail, the headlights, or the wheels.
- You must be careful not to lose any of the implements used to secure the removed components to the vehicle.
- Never place painted components on asphalt without a blanket or something to protect the paint.
Step 3. Locate the back of the dent
Once you have access to the back of the dent, you should lift the car with a hydraulic jack if necessary to locate it from the inside. You will likely need a flashlight to check the inside of the dent.
- You must locate the dent and position yourself in such a way that you can reach it.
- You may need to experiment with various positions to pry the dent out.
Step 4. Apply pressure to the back of the dent
For larger dents, you can apply pressure from the inside with your hands. Smaller diameter dents are likely to require pressures with a harder surface (for example, a hammer grip).
- Try sucking out the dent before resorting to using a mallet.
- You are less likely to damage the metal by applying pressure than by hitting it with a mallet.
Step 5. Use a wooden mallet covered with a cloth to hit the dent
Wrap a cloth around the head of a wooden mallet to smooth the surface. Then, hit the inside of the dent with the mallet. You may have to hit the dent several times to straighten it.
- Be careful not to hit the inside metal from an angle or with the side of the mallet, as you could form little creases on the metal.
- You should stop hitting the metal once the dent straightens, as it could cause the metal to arch slightly.
Method 4 of 4: Using a Glued Dent Puller
Step 1. Plug in a hot glue gun
Traditionally, dent pullers use these guns to heat up the glue before applying it to the vehicle. You should plug in the gun a few minutes before you start to get it hot enough to melt the glue.
- Make sure to use an extension cord so that the gun reaches the surface of the vehicle.
- You should re-wax the vehicle after using this method.
Step 2. Choose the puller ring that best fits the dent
You should use the glue from a dent repair kit that you can get at an auto parts store. Choose the ring that best suits the dent you want to repair. Generally, you should use a ring that goes all the way into the dent so that you suction it directly from the center point.
You must follow the instructions in the repair kit so that you can get the most suitable ring for this method
Step 3. Apply glue to the ring and then place it in the center of the dent
You must apply a little hot glue on the ring that you have chosen. Then quickly place it (glued side down) in the center of the dent. You should hold the ring in place for a moment to allow the glue to set.
- Don't worry if some of the glue comes off the sides of the ring when you press it.
- You should hold the ring in place until the glue dries enough to adhere.
Step 4. Attach the traction mechanism to the ring
Slide the towing mechanism bracket over the ring with the two rods on either side of the dent. If the kit comes with multiple brackets, you should make sure to use one that is longer than the diameter of the dent, so that the rods are at least ½ inch (1 cm) from where the dent begins on both sides..
- The rods should be outside of the dent so you can straighten it out.
- If the bracket is not wider than the dent, this method will not work.
Step 5. Twist the handle until the dent is straightened
Place the handle over the end of the ring that is glued to the center of the dent. Turn the handle to the right to adjust it, pull the glued ring towards the bracket and remove the metal along with it. You should continue turning the handle until the dent straightens.
- The glue is likely to give as you turn the handle. If this happens, you should remove the glue and start the process again.
- You may need to repeat this method in more than one place to straighten the entire dent.
Step 6. Remove the glue with rubbing alcohol
You can remove the loose glue with your fingers and then apply rubbing alcohol to remove the residue. You will likely remove the wax and even the clear coating from the paint, so be sure to apply a new coat of wax as soon as possible.