Dent Removal—DIY vs. Professional

Even the most careful drivers may get a dent or two in their vehicle over the years. Most small dents are superficial, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with them. Let’s go over the most common types of dents, what to do if you get one, some DIY dent removal methods, and when to go to a professional.

Types of Dents

The smallest type of dent is called a ding. Dings are less than ½ inch in diameter and are commonly caused by rocks hitting your vehicle on the highway.

Round dents can happen when a soft, round object hits your car, like a soccer ball. They’re typically round and hollow, but can also be a funnel shape.

One of the most difficult dents to fix is a sharp dent. They’re usually caused by sharp metal objects and can leave damage deeper than what you see on the surface. They often happen from the impact of another car’s door hitting your vehicle.

If another object hits and is dragged along your car, it may leave a creased dent. These are sometimes confused with sharp dents. Objects like bicycle handles, tree branches, or trailers are common perpetrators of creased dents.

Large dents that don’t fall into one of the other categories may be considered extreme dents for their irregular shape.

What to Do If You Get a Dent

Knowing what caused your dent is key to dent removal. If you weren’t present when the dent happened, consider potential causes before doing any work.

If you gain a dent from a collision, safely manage the aftermath of the accident. Make sure any injuries are taken care of before worrying about your car. If no one’s hurt, you can move on to reporting damage.

Assess the size, shape, and depth of the dent, and the surrounding area. Some people assume dents aren’t worth fixing, but many can be resolved without panel replacement.

DIY Dent Removal

Car dent removal with suction cup

You can attempt to resolve small dents at home with a dent removal kit or methods like these.

Suction Cup

Use a sink/cup plunger for this method. A toilet/flange plunger won’t work.

  1. Apply water to the cup plunger.
  2. Place the plunger on the dent and move it as you would on a sink drain. This should help small dents pop out.
  3. If this doesn’t work, you may need more water or the dent may be too large.

Boiling Water

This method is only for dents on your car’s bumper. It may be easier to take the bumper off first. Avoid this method on old metal bumpers—it’s ideal for newer urethane body parts. Also ensure you protect yourself from the boiling water with proper protective equipment, especially insulated gloves.

  1. Pour boiling water over the dent.
  2. Push the dent out from inside the wheel well.
  3. Repeat until the dent disappears.
  4. Pour cold water over the area when finished to shrink the plastic back into place.

Hair Dryer & Compressed Air

Wear safety goggles for this process.

  1. Heat the dent area with a hair dryer to expand the plastic.
  2. Once the dent is hot enough, hold a can of compressed air upside down and spray it on the dent.
  3. The cold air should make the plastic contract and pop the dent out.

Professional Dent Removal

If your DIY car dent repair is unsuccessful, consider handing the reins over to a professional.

Creased, sharp, or extreme dents should also be left to the pros. These require special tools and highly experienced hands to repair. Any dent that requires paintwork should also be taken to the body shop.

Maintenance & Detailing

Aside from repairing dents, keep your car looking and performing its best with regular maintenance and detailing sessions. Check out our blog for more articles to guide your DIY projects.