How to Repair a Car Dentby Contributing Writer
So you hit the mailbox, leaving a dent in your brand new car. Reporting it to your insurance company will surely increase your rates and you can't afford the expense of paying a body shop to do the repair. There is also the matter of going without transportation while the repairs are being made. Fortunately, there are a couple of things that you can try at home that are inexpensive and relatively simple.
"Suck out" the dents with a plunger. This is an old and pretty reliable method. Place the plunger over the center portion of the dent and push in, just as you would for a clogged toilet. Often, this will not work on the first try, so keep at it. This works better for smaller dents and dents in places where it is impossible to get behind the dent. This method carries no guarantee of saving the paint job. I recommend the plunger option if you have no money to spend on this project. If you do not have a plunger already, a neighbor surely does.
Use dry ice. Dry ice is pretty cheap and can be found at any hardware or home repair store. Simply put the block of ice over top of the dent. Gradually, the ice will pull the dent out. Keep repeating the process until the dent is gone. Be sure to wear protective gloves. It may be called ice, but it can cause severe burns to skin. Usually, this method will not damage the paint.
Battle the dent with household items. Another method to try requires a hair dryer and an air duster. These items are easy to borrow or purchase at low cost if you don't already have them. Heat the dent with the hair dryer for about a minute, then immediately spray the entire area with the air duster. The hot/cold combination creates a suction and within a few moments the dent will pop out. Damage to the paint job is minimal.
Bang the dent out. You can attempt to bang the dent out with a hammer, provided that you can reach behind the dent. Denting the car stretches the metal so it is best to attempt to soften the metal before using the hammer. If the metal is not softened, the area will probably never look exactly right. For a chrome surface, use an acetylene torch to heat the area or an inexpensive propane torch. Do not get the metal too hot, you will just want to heat it a little bit. For non chrome surfaces, use a hairdryer instead. Once the area is heated, lightly bump the dent out from the other side. It is best to use a rubber mallet, not a metal hammer, as it will be gentler on the car. I recommend this method as the last ditch effort, after trying the other methods and before taking the car to a shop.
- close Always use protective gloves and eye wear, as well as a breathing mask, If using chemicals, be sure to work in a well ventilated area.