A dent detracts from a car's appearance and can negatively impact its value. The good news is the high majority of non-major dings and dents can be fixed at home. There are numerous nontraditional methods as well as tactics employed by the pros that can get the car looking the way it was prior to the damage. Before drivers fix a ding or dent, it's important to evaluate the damage and figure out what method works best.
Evaluate the Dings and Dents on a Car
Understanding the extent of the damage helps in choosing the proper strategy to repair it. Small to medium-size flat-panel car dings and dents can typically be fixed quite easily with devices that may already be in the home. Small dents along the door can usually be repaired in a similar way, but sometimes may necessitate the use of extra tools to reach the dent. If a dent is located on a contoured portion of the vehicle and is quite large, it's going to require a lot more work and extra supplies. Crease dents, which are due to the metal bending from an impact, are very difficult to repair and require many special tools. Supplies and tools helpful in fixing dings and dents can be found at auto stores and online. When fixing dents, seeing well is vital; have great lighting and a flashlight on hand.
Fixing Small to Medium-Size Dings and Dents on a Car
There are numerous ways to fix a dent quickly if it's not too large and on a flat location of the fender, trunk lid, door, roof or hood.
Heat with a Hair Dryer and Dry Ice
Put on a pair of gloves for protection. First, use a hair dryer to blow heat onto the dent. Then massage the damaged area with dry ice. Repeat the process until the dent has vanished.
Use a Suction Cup or Plunger
Clean the damaged area. Then, take a plunger or suction cup and place it over the dent. Once suction is established, the driver should pull toward his or her body. It may take a few tries, but this method is generally successful.
Tap the Metal with a Hammer or Mallet
Make sure to wrap the hammer or mallet with cloth so that it doesn't scratch the paint. Also, note that this won't work on plastic portions of the car. With the hammer or mallet, tap the underside of the dent, being careful to only touch the affected area. To ensure the metal doesn't protrude out too far, line the outer side with a flat metal piece.
Use Body Filler
This should be a backup option to the methods listed above, as the process is a bit more complex and lengthy. Drivers will need automotive body filler, hardener and supplies to repaint (primer, auto paint and clear coat), in addition to other basic materials. First, use 80-grit sandpaper to remove the primer and paint. Next, mix the body filler and hardener at a 50:1 filler-to-hardener ratio, and then quickly apply the filler. Take extra precaution to not fill up too much or too little. Allow to dry for 30 to 60 minutes, then smooth with 120-grit sandpaper. Lastly, repaint the area.
Fixing Small to Medium-Size Dings and Dents on a Car Door
Dings and dents on a car door can be fixed trying those methods above, but if nothing works, it's time to remove the door panel so that the dent can be addressed from the interior. Typically the panel is held together with screws and bolts, which can be removed with a flathead screwdriver. Then, pry out the power window control panel or take off the clip securing the manual window crank in place. Tug the panel until it's removed and get to work on the dent. A flat blade tool works well to push the dent back out on an even level with the rest of the door. A ball-peen hammer can be used to get rid of any bumps or imperfections left after the dent has been pulled out.
Fixing Large Dings and Dents on a Car
Fixing a large dent often involves washing, sanding, pulling the dent out, filling with body filler, applying primer and painting to complete. Getting the dent out takes effort, and usually necessitates drilling holes in the dented area to decrease pressure and then using powerful suctioning techniques to pop the dent back into place. Unless on a flat portion, large dents can be very problematic, so car owners should seek professional help if it's too much to handle. Note that large dents along the car's contoured portions require exceptional craftsmanship to get it looking normal again.
Fixing Dings and Dents with Creases on a Car
Creased dents, which are usually deeper than 2.5 centimetres, require removal of the panel and the use of a variety of body shape tools to push the crease out and reshape the panel back to its former state. Chances are the paint has chipped, too, which means cleaning, sanding, and applying primer, paint and clear coat will be needed.