Crunch. The gut-wrenching sound of crinkling metal as your car takes a hit. You get out to examine the damage and, sure enough, it’s a dent. Too large to be ignored, but small could it be small enough to handle on your own?
It’s tempting to jump to YouTube to find a way to fix a dent yourself. And surely there are some lucky souls who have. But the great likelihood is that you will pay dearly for the money you try to save by doing the job yourself.
Common DIY Techniques…and Snags
The Internet is full of tricks to get dents out of your car. The most popular include:
Moisten the surface of the plunger—the cup-size for sinks, not the bigger size for toilets—and then apply to the car around the dent, and plunge! Push and pull until the dent pops out.
The snag: First, the dent must be larger than the plunger for this to work. If the dent is small, the plunging will have very little effect on the dent. If the dent is too large, however, then there is a good chance of making a single, large dent into several smaller dents. Then, the pushing and pulling of the plunger may not create sufficient pressure to remove the dent, or the metal may become overstretched. Even though the paint will likely stay intact, the integrity of the metal may be compromised and weakened, possibly even over-corrected and warped.
Nowadays bumpers are made of plastic, not metal. To remedy a small dent, you just need to get the plastic a more pliable so that you can pop it out from the underside. To do so, boil water and pour it over the dented area and then apply pressure from the underneath.
The snag: Working with any heated material, there is an increased risk of a burn injury. Also, the area of the bumper that is dented may not be easily accessible. The heat from the water dissipates quickly, so you might not have enough time to actually pop the dent out. Though you are welcome to continue to apply the water, each application increases the risk of injury and possibility of damaging the paint.
Hair Dryer and Compressed Air
Apply heat to the area using a hair dryer. When it is sufficiently warm, apply compressed air. The rapid cooling will cause the metal to contract and snap the dent out of place.
The snag: The theory of this method is alluringly simple and straightforward. However, there are other factors that complicate its efficacy. The dent must be fairly shallow for this to work. Depending on the area and curve of the dent, it is unlikely that you will be able to sufficiently heat and cool the area evenly and quickly enough to actually change the appearance of the dent. Though the paint will likely go unscathed, so is the dent.
Put a screw into the opposite sides of a dowel rod to make a handle. Make 4-6 “poppers.” Apply hot glue to the bottom of the dowel rod and stick it around the dented area. Allow the glue to cool and then gently pull the dowels and pop the dented metal back into place.
The snag: The big problem with this technique is the effort and skill required. This method requires quite a bit of finesse in terms of glue pull placement and consistent pulling pressure required to fix the dent. This technique has a trial and error component, which often takes more time than it saves; and the hot glue applied directly to car paint is not recommended.
Though you may cringe at the thought of shelling out the cash to go to an auto body shop for a little (or a big) dent, the pros have the right equipment, experience and time to do the job right. Save yourself the time, the headache, and the risk of further damaging your vehicle. Bring your car to Quanz Auto Care. (Did we mention we now have three locations to serve you?!)