Dings and dents in your car can be an inevitable side effect of driving in the presence of other cars, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a few hundred dollars in your neighborhood garage so the professional mechanic can restore your car’s damaged panel to its original state. While it’s true that some dents are impossible to remove without drilling a hole in the midst of the dent, pulling it out, sanding it down, and then putting two coats of primer and six coats of color back down, there are ways to remove many dents at home and without damaging the paint.
Complex dents, tiny dents, and dents that have creased the metal can be difficult to remove fully at home. These dents usually require either a professional, or professional know-how. However, even if you have one of these dents in your car, using one of the three methods below can minimize the size of the dent which can change a glaring defect in your car into a minor mishap.
Rubber Mallet Method
If the dented panel is accessible easily from behind, take a rubber mallet and gently strike the center of the dent from behind. It may take several gentle strikes, but don’t succumb to the urge to strike too hard, lest you create more damage than you’re attempting to repair. The rubber mallet is the best option of all the tools because it has a softer texture and a gentler strike. If the space is awkward, cover the handle of a screw driver with a few pieces of cloth and use the handle to gently but firmly push on the reverse side of the dent.
Using a rubber mallet to pop a dent out can sometimes cause the paint to crack or flake off. If this is the case, the area needs to be either touched up, or sanded, primed and repainted.
Hair Dryer & Compressed Air Method
To remove dents using this method, the DIY repairer will need a soft cloth, a hair dryer and a can of compressed air, the likes of which anyone can find at an office supply store where they are sold to clean out keyboards and other electronic devices. This method is best when the dent is larger than 5″ across, and this method causes no damage to paint.
First with the hair dryer on high heat, spend one minute heating the area. If you are working in cold conditions, a garage in winter for instance, add an additional 30 seconds with the hair dryer for good measure.
Next, spray the area with the liquid air for 10 seconds, holding the can upside down. The can may warn against this, but when upside down the can will spray out a white liquid instead of air. This will make the metal even cooler, which is desirable in this instance.
Finally, wait a few moments. By the time the ice on the panel disappears, the dent should have popped itself out. At this point a quick wipe with a soft cloth should remove any residue left by the compressed air.
Plunger & Soap
This method requires a clean toilet plunger, a small bucket of soapy water, and a little extra dish soap. This method is ideal for smaller dents, though the truly tiny dents are sometimes difficult to remove no matter which method you attempt.
First, wash the dented area of your car to remove any debris, and don’t rinse. If you need to, add a little more soap directly to the area over which you’re going to place the plunger to create a good seal. Wet the plunger, too.
Next, put the plunger on the center of the dent – push to suction it on, and pull to pop out the dent. It may require several tries to get the dent out. For an even stronger seal, use some petroleum jelly on the plunger rim.