Just as New: 7 Ways to Remove Car Dents Without Breaking a Sweat
The chances of getting your car through the year without new dents are pretty slim. People dent your car doors when parking too close. Shopping carts may be your worst enemy outside a shopping center. And, drivers sometimes cause their own when squeezing into the garage, hitting it with an errant baseball, or bumping it with tools on the job. Keeping your car just as new may be an impossible chore.
Start with dent prevention —
You and the family must treat the car with respect. The children shouldn’t play ball near the car, and they should open and close doors carefully. You might recruit the kids to help wash the car so you can teach them about its parts and value to you. And, you might wash the car immediately following a rough road trip or exposure to road salt treatment.
It won’t hurt to park away from other cars. If you notice the space allowed to disabled drivers, you can estimate what space you need to park safely. This is especially true for truck owners who need extra room to allow for their larger doors to open without harm. If that means parking on the far side of the parking lot, the walk won’t be wasted on you.
You should also choose parking spaces next to curbs, islands or other protective barriers. If you park next to a curb, only one side of the car or truck remains exposed. If you check the vehicles on either side of an open parking space, you should assess the potential damage from SUVs or high profile vehicles. And, if you cannot garage your vehicle, you should invest in a sturdy fitted cover.
Some problems with dents —
No matter how minor the dent, it can lead to other problems. And, the bigger the dent, the bigger the problem. So, here’s a short list of worries:
1. Dents lead to cracks! Once a dent has broken the sealant on your vehicle’s finish, it can lead to cracking, chipping, and peeling. Unless it is fixed, it will spread and threaten your car or truck with rusting.
2. Rust is a killer! If the finish is chipped or cracked, the metal will rust more quickly than you notice. And, when you notice, it could be a much more expensive problem.
3. Sunlight changes things! Sunlight will wear on any vehicle’s paint finish. But it will also emphasize dents creating an uneven appearance and aging.
4. Dents lower your price! Every dent on your vehicle lowers its resale value. Everyone knows about those inevitable little dents, but they don’t want to spend to buy yours as is.
5. Putting repairs off doesn’t save money! Dents don’t get better on their own. Delaying repairs — when you can remove car dents without breaking a sweat — only costs you more.
Autotrader says, “It’s happened to virtually all of us at least once: You walk out to your car to find that it’s been bumped, scraped or dented while parked. This can be annoying, inconvenient and potentially expensive. Should you fix it or just leave it as is?” But it’s basically a question of how much pride you take in the vehicle. So, what’s a vehicle owner to do?
7 ways to fix dents on your own:
1. Use a plunger. You will need a clean standard cup plunger. Splash the car surface with hot soapy water to warm the surface. This works especially well on contemporary models with plastic bumpers and fenders.
Once you have fitted it over the dent, you press and withdraw the plunger just as you do when clearing a drain. You want to do it with gentle force because you don’t want the plunger head to wander. Most modern vehicle door panels and surfaces are lightweight metals or alloys that will respond quickly and easily to the plunging.
2. Make your own plunger. If for some reason you don’t have a plunger, you can rig your own with some tape, a flower pot, and your vacuum cleaner. Choose a pot with a diameter that will cover the dent. Cover the top rim of the flower pot with masking tape so it does not scratch the vehicle’s finish.
Placing the flower pot opening over the dent, you can use the vacuum to create suction by drawing the air out through the hole in the pot’s base. The suction should pull the dent out.
3. Freeze it away. Metals, plastics, and synthetics respond to cold by shrinking. To start, you should allow the car to warm up in the sun because you want to shock the dent with cold.
Wearing protective gloves, you can apply dry ice directly to the dent and its surrounding area. You may have to do this repeatedly depending on the size of the dent, but you should see results. Where possible, if you can reach the dent from the inside of the dented area on a bumper or fender, you can press on the inside while you apply the freezing temperatures of the dry ice.
4. Melt it away. You can take the opposite approach by heating the dent until you can reshape and mold it away. And, you can do this in two ways:
- Wet heat — If you boil water and toss it against the dent, the heat should make the surface flexible enough to maneuver by hand from the other side. Of course, the boiling water will cool quickly, so you must repeat the application until you have massaged the dent away.
- Dry heat — You will need a dependable hot air hairdryer and a can of compressed air. Using the hairdryer, you blow hot air directly on the surface and close to the dent for several minutes to soften the surface. Then, you quickly spray the dent are with the cold compressed air. This combination of heat and cold can remove a dent on many surfaces.
5. Work it out from the inside. If you can access the dent from the other side without doing major disruption of other car materials and functions. Depending on the location and accessibility to the dent, you should select appropriate tools.
This may take some patience, but with a rubber headed mallet or covered hammerhead, you would gently but firmly tap out the dent and area around it from the center out.
6. Knock it down. You can take the lead from professionals and apply a long metal rod to the reverse side of the dent. Using a knockdown, you can pound out the dent from the injured side.
This takes some patience, practice, and special tools to get the actions from one side and the other into sync. For instance, you must choose the appropriate hammer and dolly. Dollies are metal devices in various sizes and shapes used to tap out dents with the aid of a hammer. But you must select a dolly that fits the dent and its configuration — commas, eggs, heels, toes, and more. But tapping the dent out can work well without damaging the finish.
7. Keep a tool handy. Dent pullers are available online and at thousands of auto part stores. But they are not all made equal.
- First, you must choose one large enough to handle your dent.
- Second, dent pullers only work on shallow dents on flat surfaces.
- Third, you should check reviews on the various products available.
You must do some homework if your vehicle has suffered damage. Yes, you can remove car dents without breaking a sweat. But you have to weigh the cost of making the repair and the risk of increasing the damage. You can learn a lot from reading auto, lifestyle, car-related blogs.
For example, you might look into paintless dent repair(PDR) by trained professionals who remove small and medium dents with gentle massage, knocks, and hammers that leave the original painted finish without damage.
A final tip!
You’d better watch out. Even the smaller dings may be signs of hidden structural damage. For example, it may mask a bend or twist in the metal underlying the surface. So, it may be time for a pro to take a look.
Writing for Business Insider Louis DeNicola notes, “A car may be a depreciating asset, but you don’t want its value to drop faster than it has to.” A new car depreciates up to 11 percent as soon as you drive away from the dealer, not to mention the loss in taxes and fees. It is a question of customer perception; the depreciation supposedly represents the loss of market price buyers are willing to pay for pre-owned vehicles. Nobody can really explain that loss, but that’s the fact!
By five years, the vehicle will have lost 25 percent of its original market value. But if you expect to sell it or trade it in sooner or later, you must anticipate the loss and protect it as much as you can by keeping the car in good shape.