Do-It-Yourself Auto Body Repair

by Jenny Carver

Auto body repair is a service that will never go out of business, simply because there are so many cars on the road with needed repairs. Body damage on a vehicle not only looks bad, but can cause major rust damage if not taken care of before rust sets in. You can do many body repairs yourself, without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars at a collision repair shop.

Rust Repair

Rust can form on your car from a very small nick or chip in the paint that exposes bare metal. Rust can form on bare metal in less than 24 hours in moist climates. It then spreads on the surface of the car, hidden beneath the paint. You many not notice the rust until it is so thick that it causes bubbling in the paint. Use a grinder to grind away the paint and primer on your car. Grind down to the bare metal to find out how much rust is really hidden. Grind away all of the rust and remove it from the front and back side of the metal, if possible. If the rust has penetrated the metal and formed holes, you will have to buy a new body panel, or cut and replace the damaged area with new metal. Spray a self-etching primer on the clean bare metal. This protects the metal from rust and seals it, forming a moisture barrier. You can then spray regular primer and paint over the area.

Dents and Dings

Repairing dents and dings is not difficult if you have the proper tools. Any automotive supply store will have a dent pulling kit or a paintless dent removing kit. The paintless kit works well on small, shallow dings, but not large dents. The paintless kit involves using a suction to pull the ding out without having to repaint the area. This can only be done if there are no chips or cracks in the paint. For larger dents, you need a dent pulling kit. This involves a drill for drilling multiple holes in the dent and then inserting the dent puller. You then slide the handle or weight of the dent puller toward the car and gently pull it back to you to pull the dent out. This may take several attempts using all of the holes several times to get the dent straight. You can then use body filler to cover the holes and make the area smooth. Use 80 grit sandpaper to smooth the body filler even with the surface of the car.

Refinishing

Refinishing begins once all dents and dings have been sanded smooth and flush with the surface of the car. Spray two thin coats of primer on the repaired area and allow them to dry. Sand the primer with a long sanding block and 120 grit sandpaper. Wipe the area down with wax and grease remover to remove dirt, dust and oil. Spray three thin coats of paint, allowing 30 minutes of dry time between each coat. Once the paint has dried, spray three coats of clearcoat paint on the area, allowing 30 minutes for each coat to dry.

About the Author

Since 1997 Jenny Carver has served as editor and freelance writer for many offline and online publications including lovetoknow.com, autotropolis.com, "Hoof Beat News," "Import Tuner" and others. Carver owns a custom automotive shop where she has been doing paint and body work, custom interior work and engine building for over 11 years.