4 Steps for Auto Body Repair Dent Removal

a dent in a car
  • 2-10 hours
  • 50-250
What You'll Need
Dent pulling plunger
Power drill
Rubber mallet
Metal working hammer
Body filler
Putty knife
Cotton rag
Petroleum jelly

The cost of auto body repair can quickly escalate so it can be useful to know how to undertake some of work yourself. By following a few steps, you should find that it's possible to return your vehicle bodywork to its former glory.

Step 1 – Examination

Begin by inspecting the dents to get an idea of the severity of them as this will determine how best to undertake the repair and what tools you will need. Take the opportunity to look for any other dents that have been overlooked which can be repaired at the same time.

Step 2 – Pull Dents

Basic dents in the body of your automobile can be pulled back into place with a plunger. It may be possible to use a household plunger on small dents even though there are plungers on the market that are specifically made for auto body repair. The most important factor is that the mouth of the plunger is able to form a tight seal against the dented panel.

To help create a better seal and to protect the paintwork, rub some petroleum jelly around the mouth of the plunger before putting it in place. Carefully attach the plunger to the bodywork and sharply pull it out in an attempt to pop it back into place. Dent pulling plungers are available from auto body repair stores but you should be aware that these will often require you to drill a hole in the center of the dent. Use this method only if you are prepared patch and repair the hole by applying body filler.

Step 3 – Hammer Out Dents

If you have discovered a dent in a panel that can be accessed from the opposite face, you can effectively hammer the dent out and push the surface back into place. The hood and the trunk door are areas that you will often be able to be repair with this method. A rubber mallet with a large surface area will make this process easier when repairing large dents. Gain access to the reverse side of the dented panel. Begin by using light strokes to the middle of the dent and gradually work your way around until it becomes smooth, making sure that you keep an eye on the metal as you work.

A hammer that is specifically made for metal work can be used for small dents. Cover the head of the hammer with a soft piece of cloth before lightly hammering out any dents until smooth.

Step 4 – Repair

In the event that the auto body repair process has left some minor creases in the body, it may be necessary to smooth the surface with sandpaper. Use a fine wet sandpaper to smooth the damage out before applying color to finish the surface repair.