Knowing how to fix a dent in the bodywork of your car can end up saving you serious cash. Unfortunately, accidents do happen, and it’s therefore wise to know how to DIY any minor repairs.
How much do repairs cost?
Your car doors and bumpers are the most likely locations for a dent to occur. There are a number of factors that will impact the overall cost of a repair.
These factors tend to be:
- The car make and model
- The degree of damage
- The location of the damage
- Whether there’s damage to paintwork
Overall, a dent repair is likely to be cheaper than having to replace a whole bumper. It may therefore be cheaper to know how to fix a dent in your car yourself. That said, you should only DIY these repairs if you’re completely confident that you know how, in order to avoid causing further damage.
How to fix a dent in your car
It’s much easier to fix dents that are on flat surfaces and aren’t awkwardly shaped.
You should ensure that the dent is no more than three inches wide and shallow.
You’ll need to be able to access both sides of the dent for these techniques (for example, by opening the bonnet or accessing the vehicle’s underside). If you can’t get access because it’s obstructed by the car’s structural elements (such as crash bars), then it’s sensible to take your vehicle into a body shop instead.
These techniques can be repeated if the dent needs continued re-working, but leave a day in between attempts. Patience is key to the process.
If you’re confident that you can fix the dent in your car’s doors, bodywork or bumpers, then you can follow these step-by-step instructions.
With a hairdryer
- Plug in the hairdryer. It should be held between five and seven inches away from the dent, on a medium heat. After a few minutes, the dent surface should feel malleable. Don’t overheat the surface for too long – only two or three minutes will do.
- Wearing insulated gloves, gently probe the dent. It should feel malleable – if it doesn’t, repeat step one.
- Take a compressed air can, turn it upside down, and spray it on the dent from the other side. For example, if your dent presses down and into the surface of your bonnet, you’ll want to focus the compressed air onto the underside of the bonnet. This will help to ease the dent back out of shape.
- Once the dent has popped into shape, use the cloth to wipe away any liquid residue caused by the compressed air.
With a plunger
Only use this technique on plastic parts of your car – never on metal.
- Pour boiling water over the dented area to soften it.
- Wearing insulated gloves, place the plunger over the dent. When it’s properly suctioned on, pull the plunger towards you.
- If this hasn’t popped the dent out of place, you can gently push the dent from behind.
- Wipe clean with a cloth.
With dry ice
You’ll need heavy-duty gloves to complete this technique, which makes use of extreme temperature changes.
- Follow steps one and two from the hair dryer method.
- Once the dent feels malleable, cover the dent with aluminium foil, fixing this in place with masking tape.
- Wearing your heavy-duty gloves, rub the dry ice over the foil. The dent should pop into place.
With a repair kit
It’s possible to purchase repair kits specifically designed to help fix a dent in your car. There are three main kinds.
These repair kits work by gluing tabs to the dent and pulling it outwards, operating like a suction cup.
These work in the opposite way to the previous repair kits. You apply the kits to the other side of the dent and push it back into place.
Certain repair kits use metal pens to ‘tap’ the dent out of your bodywork.
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