Do It Yourself Car Body Repair

How to Repair a Dent in Your Auto Body


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Auto body dent repair. If you've ever had to deal with it, you know the scenario: You're taking a casual walk around your car. Perhaps you are heading for the trunk to take something out of it, or maybe you have taken time to assure that your tires are properly inflated. Whatever the case, your eyes are on your car and suddenly you notice it: a dent. It's not a big one, but it's there. And it bothers the heck out of you.

But instead of taking the car to an auto body shop and possibly laying out hundreds of dollars for a repair, you are determined to do it yourself. The problem is, you don't have a clue how to do an auto body dent repair. Well, here's how:

Analyze the Damage

If the metal in which the dent appears has bumps or ripples, then it may be best to have a professional auto body repairman do the work or replace the panel. If the bumps or ripples are not present, then the work should be simple.

Prepare For the Job

Wash the panel about 4-inches to 6-inches around the dent in all directions and then dry thoroughly. This assures that there is nothing to get in the way of the tools you will be using and allows for a good seal when you use the plunger.

You will need to gather a number of tools to perform the repair. These tools include:

  • An Electric Drill
  • Plastic Squeegee
  • 1/8-inch Twist Drill Bit
  • A Perforated File also known as a Surform Tool
  • Dent Puller or Plunger
  • Rubber Sanding Block
  • 80-, 100-, 180-, 220-grit Abrasive Papers
  • Disk Sander or Sanding Disk Drill Attachment
  • Coarse-Grit Sanding Disks
  • Newspaper
  • Masking Tape
  • Tack Cloth
  • Sandable Metal Primer Spray
  • Acetone
  • Auto Body Glazing Putty
  • Auto Body Filler
Perform the Repair

Place the plunger over the dent and depress slowly and steadily until there is a tight seal between the panel and the head of the plunger. Take a good grip and then pull steady but gently to pop the dent out of the metal. The dent puller can also be used to perform this task.

Sand the area of the dent with the disk sander or sanding disk drill attachment with the electric drill. Wipe away the sanding dust with the tack cloth and clean the area with acetone. Slightly overfill the dent with the auto body filler using the squeegee. Do not apply a coat more than 1/4-inch thick. Take some time off to allow the filler to cure.

Shave off excess filler using a perforated file like a Surform Tool until the original contour is achieved. Continue smoothing out the area using the rubber sander block and coarse sandpaper until the original contour appears to be perfectly matched.

Mask off the un-sanded area with newspaper and masking tape. Then spray sandable metal primer to the repair area. When the primer is dry, use the 220-grit sandpaper to sand the area and feather the edges into the surrounding area. Use the squeegee to apply glazing putty to fill in any remaining scratches. Repeat the priming step and apply the primer in two or three light coats and then sand the area with 220-grit abrasive sandpaper.

While auto body dents are an unfortunate fact of life, they don't always have to make a dent in your wallet. By doing your own auto body dent repair, you can help restore the look of your car while saving money at the same time.

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