This Is How to Fix Your Car's Dents and Dings Inexpensively
With the right tools and patience, you can fix minor damage and save yourself money in the process.
No matter how zealously you care for your car or truck, any time it's out in public there's a risk it's going to suffer a dent or ding. A distracted driver poking at his or her phone bumps it from behind at a light. An inattentive parker brushes against it in the grocery-store lot. A kid bumps it with a shopping cart. Someone opens their car door into yours in a tight parking spot. Or maybe you—nah, we won't go there. Suffice it to say that these battle scars are a frustrating fact of auto-ownership life.
What can you do to remedy such problems? There are numerous paintless dent removal services—some of them independent businesses and others offered through car dealers—that can fix many of these surface blemishes. But they're not cheap. According to Angie's List, the price range for a pro to extract a one-inch dent from your vehicle is in the $50-to-$120 range. (One of our staffers who used a dent-repair specialist on his personal vehicle says that's a realistic cost spread.) Lager dents can cost considerably more. And know that not all dents can be perfectly repaired, even by a specialist—and if the paint is scratched they can do nothing about that.
You Can Do It Yourself
However, if you're willing to give it a try, in many cases you can fix your car's dents quite effectively yourself using some not very expensive dent-removal tools.
But first, you must assess the damage to know what you're dealing with. How bad is it? Where is it? Is the dent in a composite (plastic) bumper/fascia, a sheetmetal fender or door, an aluminum hood or deck, or even a carbon-fiber panel? Is the paint scratched? How badly? The best methods and tools you can use will depend on those answers. And if in doubt, get a couple of quotes from a paintless dent-repair specialist or body shop to learn what they would charge, and why.
Buy a Dent-Repair Kit
If it looks as though a DIY repair may be possible, we suggest purchasing a dent-removal kit. These kits typically use a bridge-type tool (as shown above) with legs that will straddle the dent. These tools have a hole in the middle of the bridge section, along with different sizes of pulling attachments. For most dents you stick a pulling attachment (essentially a suction cup on the end of a long screw) into the middle of the dent. Some of these dent-removal tools use hot glue to attach the suction cup securely. You then position the bridge over it with the screw through its hole and pop out the dent by slowly pulling the rod and suction cup outward, away from the dent. Simple, and it often works.
Eastwood makes what looks like an excellent dent-remover tool. It comes as part of a kit that includes everything you need to do the job for about $60, including a hot glue gun like the one in the below photo. Eastwood also has helpful videos posted online showing how to use the tool. https://www.eastwood.com/eastwood-pa...waAnCqEALw_wcB
There's another potentially effective method for addressing larger dents using such household-handy tools as a plunger and some water. Here's a good demonstration video
that shows how this method can sometimes work on certain types of dents. This method might not eliminate the entire dent, and using a quality dent-removal tool will be necessary to finish the job. The hard fact is that there are dents in metal panels that simply cannot be fixed other than with major bodywork done at a repair facility.
Plastic Pieces Can Be Popped Out
If your dent is in a plastic surface like a front or rear bumper cover and you can get to its inside surface, you can pour boiling water over the area to soften it up, then push the dent out from the inside. If you can’t access the dent from the inside, try using a hair dryer to warm up and expand the outer surface. You'll need access to compressed air to make this method work. Once the dented area is warm, try spraying it with the compressed air to cool it quickly and contract the material, The dent just may pop out.
If you search the internet, you'll come across numerous other ways to fix dents, but we're dubious about them. And not all dent-removal tools work equally well, either. Do your research thoroughly before you buy; as with any purchase, you get what you pay for.
Patience Is Required
In all cases, take your time. Removing dents is a multi-step process. Work too fast, pull on the metal too hard or too far, and you'll stretch it the wrong way and it will be unfixable—at least by you. One or more of these methods may work to pull or push out your dent or ding without investing money in a professional repair. If you're successful, pat yourself on the back. If not, or if the surface still looks wonky or the paint is damaged, it was worth a try. And you can still suck up your pride, pull out your wallet, and turn it over to a trained pro.