Here’s How to Get a Dent Out of a Car

in Ownership
Dents in a blue car

Source: Pixabay

Getting a dent in your car is an unfortunate right of passage for car owners. With each new vehicle, we expose ourselves to the carelessness of others or have to deal with the results of our own mistakes. And especially if it’s a first-time situation, you may wonder how to get a dent out of a car.

For some car owners, dealing with dents involves just living with the blemishes (and being reminded of the imperfections with every drive). For others, it involves a quick trip to the body shop or dent repair person. But, there’s a third option: repairing the dent yourself. In many cases, it’s not as difficult as you think. So, let’s dive into helpful tips for DIY dent removal. But, before we do, keep these points in mind:

  • You stand a better chance of success if the paint around the affected area is still intact.
  • A dent without creases or sharp edges is more likely to be a DIY project.
  • If the dent has any cracking or perforations through the metal, skip the attempt.
  • Leave big dents (12 inches or larger) to the professionals.
  • Don’t bother if the body panel is aluminum (something more common in high-end vehicles and the Ford F-150).

Also, take note that these tips don’t guarantee success. Take your time and if you’re uncertain about anything, seek professional help.


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The Plunger Technique

Suction is one way how to get a dent out of a car, and all it takes is an ordinary plunger. You might want to pass on the one in the bathroom. Not so much for the “ewww” factor, but because you’ll want a plunger with a crisp and clean edge. While shopping for that plunger, make sure it’s the “cup” style without a flange (a rubber extension that looks like an upside-down bell). And based on the dent’s size, all you may need is a small drain plunger. 

First, clean the area around the dent (to make a better seal) and wet the plunger. Next, place the plunger over the blemish and give it a few gentle tugs. Don’t overdo it, and be ready to move on if there are no results.

The Boiled Water Technique

This approach repairs a dented plastic bumper, standard equipment in modern vehicles. It’s a simple method. Carefully pour boiling water over the dented area to soften the surface. Using a wooden dowel or similar object (or your hand, if the fingers reach), get behind the dent and gently push it out. Of course, use caution to avoid the scalding water. 

The Dry Ice Technique

Try your hand at a bit of metal magic with this method (you can also use it on dented plastic bumpers). You’ll need dry ice and appropriate hand protection (thick, insulated gloves). With the gloves, rub the dry ice over the dent and see what happens. You should notice results reasonably quickly, but there’s step two if nothing happens.  

To increase the reaction, you’ll want to warm the dent. You can accomplish this with a hairdryer or by letting the car sit in the blazing sun. Once the area gets heated up, reapply the dry ice. 

The Hairdryer and Compressed Air Technique

The idea here is that blending the hot and cold causes the dent to pop out by itself. To make this happen, use the hairdryer (at the highest setting) to heat the dent and surrounding area—make it as hot as possible. Next, spray compressed air (from a can) directly onto the affected area. The sudden application of the cold air should cause the heated surface to react and make the dent pop out. This approach works better on a dented plastic bumper, but it can’t hurt to try it on metal.

The Hot Glue Gun and Screws Technique

This method takes the most effort among our “how to get a dent out of a car” tips. There’s also a greater chance of damaging the paint or over-correcting the metal. No risk, no reward. You’ll need a hot glue gun, small wooden dowels, and flathead screws. Insert the screws into the end of the dowels. You’ll be placing the screw and dowel sets evenly over the dent. 

Glue each screw head (still attached to the dowel) onto the dent surface. Once the glue has dried, you can use the dowels as a handle to gently pull out the dent. You may want to test glue a screw in a less-noticeable spot to ensure there’s no paint damage after removing the screw and glue (do this with a hairdryer).


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FAQs: How to Get a Dent Out of a Car

Q: Can every car dent be removed?

A: No. The right tools and clever hacks can go a long way in removing dents, but ultimately professional help may be needed if the dent is tricky to work with or beyond your comfort level.

Q: Does dent removal damage car paint?

A: It can happen in some situations. The older the car, the more likely there’s paint damage to begin with. Add the stress (to the surface) of a dent and efforts to repair the dent, and there’s a greater likelihood that the paint may be affected. 

Q: Can a plunger really remove a dent?

A: Yes! It may not always work, but a plunger can often fix superficial dents that are easy to get to. Having a clean surface and good suction makes a difference, too.


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Q: How long does DIY dent repair take?

A: Plan on 30 to 60 minutes, but it depends on the size and complexity of the dent and how much preparation work is required. And, of course, some dent removal techniques are more straightforward than others.

Q: Can I fix a dent with cracked or perforated metal?

A: No. Dents in this condition need professional repair. Typically, these repairs require removing the damaged area, welding new metal, refinishing, and painting—skills beyond the average DIYer.

Q: What is paintless dent repair?

Paintless dent repair or PDR is a method of repairing minor dents and dings without affecting the vehicle’s original factory paint. Using specialized tools, PDR will basically massage the dents and dings back to their original condition. The best quality paintless dent repairs will make it seem like the damage didn’t happen in the first place.

Q: What are the advantages of paintless dent repair?

The best benefit of paintless dent repair done by professionals is the quality of the job. No fillers, grinding, or primers are used, so the original factory paint remains undisturbed. Another advantage is the cost. Paintless dent repair jobs are typically a quarter or a third as expensive as traditional dent repair methods. Furthermore, PDR jobs can be completed in less than an hour, which is an excellent benefit if you’re not too keen about leaving your vehicle in the shop.

Q: Should I go DIY or seek professionals for dent repair?

Whenever you get a dent on your car, your always safe route is contacting a dent repair technician. If you know what you’re doing, the most minor dents can be tackled DIY. However, you’re better off with the pros if there’s a sizable dent or multiple damage points.

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