Easy DIY Ways to Take Dents Out of Your Car

Updated on January 23, 2019
JerryFisher profile image

Save yourself some money like I have and repair these dents yourself at home. It's easier than you may think.

Typical Ugly Car Dent

Types of Car Dents You Can Remove Yourself

Depending on the dent, you can often take it out yourself with a few simple tools. If it's just a round dent like the one in the photo above, it won't be too difficult.

Dents with creases: If the dent has a crease in it, you'll probably have to visit an auto body mechanic, unless you're skilled in this area. With a crease, you'd have to fill what doesn't come out with some body auto fill. It's also more than likely that you're going to lose a little bit of paint, so you'll have to be prepared to spray some touch up paint in that area, as well.

Dents in car doors: These are awkward things generally. They'll mean that to get to them you're going to have to strip the inside interior panel off the door. At that point, too, you've got a problem because the window and window frame take up a lot of that space. If the dent is close to the window frame, that's probably not something you'll be able to do through lack of space to work through on the other side. But stay with me here (I cover this further down)—you may still be able to pull it out from the exterior side without having to even go near pulling interior panels off. If the dent is, say, halfway down the door and pretty much central, you should be able to tackle that one, regardless.

Roof dents: Can be easily taken care of as long as they have avoided the skeletal structure. What I mean by this is that your roof is built on a rigid platform for rollover safety but it contains a lot of empty spaces. Next time you're in your car put your hand on the headlining and move it around, you'll be able to feel the differences in the structure underneath.

Trunk and hood dents: Should also be able to be repaired fairly easily. Like the roof, though, both the hood and the trunk have a skeletal structure. Open both up and you'll easily see this framework. If your dent has avoided the cross structure, it should easily be able to be taped out from inside. But like the door, trunk and hood and roof dents may be able to be pulled out. I'll show you how soon.

Panel dents: The easiest of all to get out, but if they're on a corner, you'll have a crease for sure, and you'll end up using body filler. Still not difficult, though, and I explain the ways to do that further down.

How to Repair Common Round Car Dents With Simple DIY Tools

There are a few ways you can go about this.

  1. The first thing you can try is a common household plumber's plunger. They come in various widths, so measure the diameter of your dent and match it up to a plunger that will cover that sized dent. Best to use grease around the rubber lip that you'll be pressing onto the dent, but soapy water may be as good. Apply the greased plunger over the top of the dent and then press the plunger in so that the plunger's squashed flat and has no air left in it. Then slowly pull it out. If it's a light enough car dent, you'll simply vacuum the dent out. You might have to have a few goes at this.
  2. If that doesn't work, then the next thing to use to try to extract your dent is a large rubber mallet. By super-careful with the mallet, and just tap gently to begin with, as if you put too much force into your blows you'll end up with the dent protruding in the other direction.
  3. If you don't have a rubber mallet. the next thing you can try is a piece of timber with the end about the same size as the dent. But wrap the end of the piece of timber with a large piece of cloth. Make sure there are no sharp edges on the timber before attempting this. You can then quietly tap the end of the piece of timber with a hammer until the dent pops out.

One thing you can never use is a hammer directly on the dent. You'll just end up with a whole lot of little dents within the dent. Believe me, that looks a lot uglier than the original dent.

Auto body mechanics use a variety of tools to get dents out. Some are rounded to take the curves. For the cost of about $30, you could buy a set and then you'll have a much better chance of doing it properly. This is especially useful if you've got quite a few to tackle and they're not just straightforward round dents.

Repairing a Car Dent With a Hair Dryer and Dry Ice

Repairing a car dent with a hairdryer and ice is remarkably effective. For this method you'll need a hair dryer, a pair of solid rubber gloves, some dry ice, and tinfoil.

  • Have ready with you a piece of tinfoil larger, than the dent, that you can put over the dent as soon as you've stopped heating it. This will make sure that the heat you apply remains on the dent.
  • Then use the dryer, on high heat, about seven inches or so back from the dent for about three minutes. Be careful with the heat as you can blister your paint.
  • Apply the tinfoil.
  • Next put your pair of rubber gloves on and pick up a handful of dry ice cubes and start rubbing them on the tinfoil.

After a few minutes, the dent should pop out. The reason for this is that you've slightly expanded the metal with the heat and then the coldness of the ice reverses this process and contracts the metal.

You may have to repeat this process two to three times before the dent pops out.

You can also buy dry ice in a can with compressed air. This is quicker and more effective than ice cubes.

Repairing Dents in Plastic and Rubber Bumpers

Depending on how severe these dents are, they can be usually popped out with ease by pouring boiling water over them. Simply boil a jug of water and then very slowly pour the water above the dent. It might take two to three jugs' worth, but the dent should just easily pop out.

Repairing Deeper Dents and Creases

Repairing deeper dents and creases can be done with a hammer and a dolly. You can buy sets of these off Amazon for about $30.

First, though, if it's a bumper you're best to remove it. They're all bolted on. Just find the bolts, unbolt it and take it to a workbench where you can repair it. Much easier than lying on your back on the ground underneath your car trying to do this.

Hammer out the dent as best you can. If you've got a crease you'd be doing a great job to pull that out perfectly. You're more than likely going to have to put some body filler on it, sand it down, spray some primer on it, and then some top coat same as your car color.

Applying Body Filler to a Car Dent

Repairing a Dent With Body Filler

Materials You're Going to Need:

  • Body filler (just enough to fill the dent)
  • Body putty (smallest quantity you can buy)
  • Rubber sanding block
  • Sandpaper: Two pieces each of 150 grit, 220 grit, and 400 grit
  • Sandpaper (wet and dry): Two pieces each of 400 grit and 800 grit
  • Tin of cutting compound polish
  • Car polish
  • A few rags
  • Rubber sanding block
  • Spot putty
  • Paint (if you do the final coat yourself)

Body filler is a substance that adheres well to metal, can be easily sanded, and lasts the life of the car. It's great for dents that are too hard to repair otherwise, and every body shop uses it.

Bondo Body Filler, 00262, 1 Qt 28 oz.
Bondo Body Filler, 00262, 1 Qt 28 oz.
Excellent body filler for under $7.

How to Apply Body Filler

  • First you're going to have to remove the paint. For this, use 150 grit sandpaper. Sand the paint a couple of inches wide of the dent, as well as the dent.
  • Then mix your body filler. Body filler is a two-part mix that has a hardener. Best to mix it on something like an old frisbee. Body filler doesn't adhere to plastic so then what isn't used can be tossed out and you can use the frisbie again. After you mix it, you've only got about 5 minutes working time before gets too hard.
  • Apply the body filler over the dent as smoothly as you can. There is a little shrinkage with it, so apply a slightly thicker patch to take care of this. You don't have to be too neat as you'll be sanding it smooth anyway.
  • Leave it for about half an hour and it will be ready for sanding.
  • Next wrap a piece of 150 grit sanding paper around the block and with nice even strokes sand the filler until it's almost even with the rest of the body. Then finish off the sanding with a piece of 220 grit wrapped around the block. Take your time.
  • You're going to have some tiny holes in the body filler. You'll probably be able to see them. So take your spot putty and with a plastic spreader spread some spot putty over where you've just sanded. Body putty seems to take no time at all to dry; still, l leave it for about half an hour.
  • Then wrap a piece of 400 grit around the sanding block and slowly and carefully sand the body putty off. All you should be left with is the body putty inserted into the tiny holes of the body filler.
  • Check carefully before calling it a day on this sanding, because even the smallest flaw will show up in the paint.
  • Next mask off the area around your repair; cover anything, such as tires, that's likely to get a coat of primer where you don't want it.
  • Spray three coats of primer. Leave the coats to dry for about an hour/more if it's cold.
  • Allow the primer to dry overnight and then remove your masking. This time use the 400 grit wet sandpaper (usually black) and wrap that around the sanding block. Now spray or wet the repaired area and keep it wet while you're sanding it. Slowly and carefully sand the primer until it's smooth. Sand slightly in excess of your repair job onto the actual car paint. As you sand the edges of the primer, you'll know you've got it right when you see the actual primer underneath the car paint. Now it should be ready for the final paint.

How to Apply the Final Coat

For the final coat, you can take it to your local body repair shop for a professional paint or do it yourself. You're going to have to get exactly your color in a spray can. If you have a spray gun run by a compressor, even better.

  • Once again mask everything off and apply three or four even coats over the area over the period of a day. Let it dry hard overnight.
  • Wrap the 800 grit wet sandpaper around the sanding block and slowly start sanding smooth. Take it right into the edge of the good coat on your car to make sure the new paint blends in. Always keep the area wet while sanding.
  • Then once you're okay with it being smooth it's going to look very dull. Take to the area with a rag and the cutting polish compound. Once again keep the area wet and rub it for about ten minutes.
  • Lastly take a fresh dry rag and polish it normally with car polish. If it still looks dull then go back to polishing it with the cutting compound and try the final polish until it shines like the rest of the good paint.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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