It always happens when you least expect it to. You’re reversing out of the work parking lot with that Friday feeling, looking forward to the weekend when before you know it – BAM – you’ve reversed right into a lamppost. You jump out of the car to assess the damage only to find a humongous and plainly obvious dent right in the middle of the rear bumper. Weekend ruined. Now it’s time for a depressing drive home, in which you are forced to re-budget your upcoming weekend to account for what’s going to be a costly mechanical bill.
However, what if we told you that this dent could be removed without breaking the bank? We’ve compiled together a list of life hacks tried and tested by do-it-yourselfers over the years which repeatedly produce the same quality results as your average body shop for a fraction of the price.
Helpful Pieces of Advice Before You Begin
Will this be your first time doing any sort of DIY? Don’t be fooled by the friend, family member or colleague who consistently bangs on about how incredibly simple it all is. Here are four top tips to consider before committing to fixing that dent.
- Always Be Safe!
Our number one piece of advice is always to remain safe. If, when reading the article below, you feel that attempting this procedure could cause an old injury or problem to arise, then please refrain from doing so. Likewise, you don’t want to cause a new injury if deep down, you know that such DIY will be too intricate for you to tackle alone.
- Invest in the Right Equipment
Many of the proposed methods below require a pair of handyman gloves and safety goggles in order to complete the task. Only attempt a method if you have everything you could ever need close by.
- Sometimes, it’s better just to admit defeat
We know this point is somewhat contradictory. After all, we’re the ones writing an article on how to go down the DIY route, right? However, hundreds upon thousands of DIYers have ended up making a car dent bigger or even worse, subsequently damaging the overall integrity of their car. For example, when a dent is incredibly sharp it’s impossible to retain its original shape, as the metal has been stretched out too far. Another case is if a dent is so huge that your car has basically been bashed in. In these extreme cases, best to take your vehicle to a body shop. Although it will certainly be a costly alternative, these guys are professionals for a reason and usually more experienced than your average handyman.
- ‘Some things will never go back to the way they used to be’
Although this somewhat cheesy quote is usually referenced when going through a breakup, this saying often rings true when referring to car dents. We’re all guilty of conjuring whimsical images in our minds of our car returning to how it used to be ‘pre-bump’. However, 99.9% of dents will never go back exactly to shape and you’ll be extremely lucky if you end up with a small bulge instead of a crater.
Now that you’ve read and followed this advice, you’re good to go!
The Old Classic: Use Boiling Water
This dependable method works wonders for those who have simply reversed into an object. Before we begin, this trick should only be attempted if your bumper is composed of plastic. Plastic is a synthetic and flexible material which when soft, can easily be molded into shape. This molding is what the boiling water achieves. The moment you’ve poured the water over the dent, reach quickly behind your bumper and try to pop the dent back in. The trick to this method is to work as quickly as possible – the heat produced by the boiling water won’t last forever!
Most people attempt this simply by boiling a kettle and pouring it over the bump. However, several DIYers state that it’s more effective to fill up a saucepan and hold the water against the bump for a substantial period of time.
Another debatable hack with the boiling water method is to pour cold water on the plastic after its original shape has been attained, in order to help further set it.
Don’t start thinking you’re the indestructible Hound from Game of Thrones or anything while attempting this procedure. Always wear a pair of gloves when reaching into the bonnet. There is a multitude of unknown objects lying around in there which have the potential to badly hurt your hand.
Apply a Plunger to the Dent
Yup, we know that this method sounds pretty bizarre. Yet plungers are actually incredibly multi-functional – DIYers rave about their success when applied to large pits on flat surfaces. Make sure that the plunger you attempt this procedure with isn’t a toilet plunger (a flange plunger) but one which is used to unclog the sink (a flat plunger). Firstly, apply a bit of water on both the plunger and the dent. Then, press the plunger on to the dent and pull with all the strength you can muster. Don’t just pull from the one angle; make sure that you apply the plunger all around the dent, especially if it’s been a sizable knock.
Apply a Hairdryer to the Dent
Blow away your troubles by using a hairdryer to remove the car dent. This will work wonders if you want to sort out a bulging spot on a plastic or metal surface such as a car bumper. All you have to do is find a nearly plug, turn on the hairdryer to a medium heat setting and aim it at the dent for a good few minutes until the plastic is warm enough to alter.
To assess the malleability of the metal, after heating for a few minutes gently press on the underside or the outer edges of the dent. If said material feels soft, you’re ready to move on to the next step. Alternatively, heat the dent with your hair dryer for a minute longer and examine again.
Next, you should’ve previously placed a can of compressed air nearby. Turn this can upside down and spray the same area. This should cause the contraction of the plastic and hopefully, the dent should pop out.
Finally, wipe down the remaining liquid formed by the compressor with a clean and spongy cloth.
Vacuum Cleaner vs. Dent
That’s right – vacuum cleaners aren’t only for cleaning. The success of this procedure will depend entirely upon the suction levels and quality of your vacuum cleaner. Don’t try to attempt this on a sizeable dent either, as likelihood is that this won’t succeed. To increase your chances of success, create a dent puller with a vacuum, a bucket and some tape.
So, how can this bizarre contraption be created? Make a small hole underneath the bucket and tape the vacuum nozzle over the hole. This hole must be small enough so that the mouth of the vacuum cleaner will completely enclose it, therefore making it airtight.
The dent must also be hollow enough to pop out easily. If nothing is happening at first, try and improve the vacuum cleaner suction by wiggling around the vacuum hose for a bit to let a little air inside.
Related Post: Best Car Vacuum
Fixing a Dent with Hot Glue
Now we’re venturing towards the trickier procedures. Rightly so, many DIYers are incredibly worried about ruining the perfect paintwork on their car. These guys are consequently the ones who opt for fixing a dent with hot glue – a reliable method which aims to protect your bodywork.
First, source out a pulling tap. This has to either be larger or match the size of the pit itself. Those on the more extreme end of the DIY spectrum even enjoy making their own grips. Examples of such DIY grips are a simple wooden dowel cut into sections of two to three inches with large screws placed into the sides, serving the purpose of handles.
Now, grab your glue gun. Apply glue on to your chosen grip and quickly apply it down right into the centre of the busted bodywork. If you are using wooden dowels, place the knobs all around the dented area. Plan ahead and use your common sense when initially placing these dowels, as their effectiveness will completely depend on the size and hollowness of your specific dent.
Now, you must be patient. We know this sounds like the simplest of steps in a complicated array of procedures. But there’s something incredibly unnatural about foreign objects sticking on the chassis of your beloved car! Take your mind off things for a while by grabbing some coffee, working out… basically whatever it takes to help you relax.
Now that the glue has set, all you have to do is pull on your chosen grip. If you are using dowels, then consider asking a friend or your partner to coordinate the pulling to maximize the overall result.
Now that the dent has disappeared, it’s not time to celebrate just yet! Carefully wax your vehicle after using this method; what you don’t want is the glue to damage the body of your car! If you fancy being even more cautious, clean the car’s surface with acetone and water before even starting the procedure. If your paint is already looking a little rough around the edges, then don’t try out this method or you could potentially be looking at an even more costly repair bill at the end of the day.
Fix from the Inside
This method is only recommended if easy access is available to the back of the dent. Choose your tools depending on the size of the dent itself. If you’re unlucky enough to have massively dented your car, use a mallet. Otherwise, sourcing out a hammer will be your best bet.
We know what you’re thinking; how on earth will this method work without damaging the inside framework of my car? In order to protect you beloved vehicle, find a cloth to drape over the dent before you begin. The key to success is to tap gently from the center until it pops right out. Patience, as usual, is key!
Purchase a Dent Puller Kit
If you’ve read every tip so far and believe yourself to be incapable of fixing the specific dent on your car, chances are that you’re going to have to opt for a dent puller instead. However, many people are skeptical of their so-called success. As a general rule, we only recommend purchasing a dent puller kit if the dent on your vehicle is shallow and on a flat or flexible surface. Dent pullers are extremely unlikely to work if they run along the edge of the bodywork and are angular shaped.
There are two types of dent pullers – suction and glue. A suction dent puller firstly requires the moistening of the suction surface by spraying a little water. Pullers should be attached to the center of the dent if it’s small in size and additionally, fastened to the edges of a larger dent. Once the puller is correctly attached to the car, begin tugging in short and speedy pulses. With glue dent pullers, one other piece of advice is not to press down too hard when applying the puller, as doing so could cause the damaging of the bodywork’s paint itself. There should be an adequate layer of glue between the tab and the metal.
Top Tip – If you are using this kit and cannot remove your dent, we recommend you stop trying and take your vehicle to a body shop.
So, there you have it! One last bit of advice we’ll leave you with is that patience goes a long way. Always stay focused and never rush the task, especially when one slight mistake could result in a costly substitute.