How to Pull Dents

by Don Bowman

Pulling dents out of auto body panels is an art when it is done properly. There are many different ways of pulling dents. The type and location of the dent is the determining factor. Dents that result in creases are the most difficult to remove; many times they are impossible to remove. A crease is a relatively convex or concave straight line. If you have a crease, replacement of the panel is the most effective permanent repair.


Use the ding remover rods to remove small dents such as parking lot dings. The rods are 5/16- to 3/8-inch thick and four feet long with assorted bends at the ends of the rod. Insert the rod wherever possible, so the curved end can be placed under the dent. In some cases, an inconspicuous hole must be drilled to insert the rod and later capped. Place the yellow board in your line of sight so that the yellow and black checkers reflect on the surface of the body panel. This works great because it emphasizes the smallest dent or imperfection. Twist the rod end under the dent or ding and watch it rise against the backdrop of the yellow and black reflection.


Hammer the dent out where practical, using a general purpose body hammer and an appropriate dolly. To do this, place the dolly behind the dent and gently hammer the body dent against the dolly until the dent is removed. It is a good idea to use a body spoon over the outside the body to prevent hammer strikes. If the dent is deep and stretches the sheet metal, use a body-shrinking hammer to draw the metal together. The hammer has spikes on its face and when it strikes metal, it makes tiny dents, effectively shrinking the metal.


Pull large gradual dents such as dish-type dents using a vacuum dent puller.


Pull small hard-to-get-behind dents in the body with welded studs and a stud puller. To do this, insert two-inch studs over the dent with a stud welder. After inserting the studs, use a stud puller--which looks like a rivet gun—to pull the dents out. After you remove the dents, remove the studs.


Drill a hole in the dent. Use a dent-remover slide hammer to pull dents by sliding the weight on the hammer outward. This tool accepts different ends that can be inserted into the hole in the dent.


Use a porta power to remove large dents, as well as dents that are too difficult to remove with manual tools. The porta power has a hydraulic cylinder and a pump. There are several different ends that can be used, including a jaws-of-life type end shaped like a folded hand. This tool can be extended to span larger areas. This is the ultimate pushing power tool.


  • close Always wear appropriate eye-protection equipment when working with power tools.

Items you will need

About the Author

Don Bowman has been writing for various websites and several online magazines since 2008. He has owned an auto service facility since 1982 and has over 45 years of technical experience as a master ASE tech. Bowman has a business degree from Pennsylvania State University and was an officer in the U.S. Army (aircraft maintenance officer, pilot, six Air Medal awards, two tours Vietnam).

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Hemera Technologies/ Images