Sharp dents are one of the most difficult types of car dent to fix, but you may be able to remove them at home using heat and cold, a rubber mallet, or a DIY kit. If you’re not able to repair the dent using one of these methods, it’s best to take the car to the shop for professional repairs.
It happens all the time: someone parked next to you, opened their door too fast, or steered their shopping cart into your SUV. Now there’s a sharp dent in your car. You’ve got no idea how to fix it, and you’re seeing an expensive repair bill in your future.
Don’t worry—you may be able to repair that dent at home!
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This article will show you how to remove sharp dents from a car (plastic and metal), how to fix a dent in a car door, and how to cover up a dent you can’t get out on your own.
How to get sharp dents out of plastic
Plastic is fairly malleable, and heat can help you work out any dents in a plastic part. If you find a sharp dent in one of your car’s plastic components, such as the rear bumper, you may be able to fix the dent by applying heat with a hairdryer, heat gun, or a few jugs of boiling water.
Remove the component, if possible, before trying to remove the dent. Bumpers are bolted on, so you can quickly remove them to give yourself better access to the dent. Follow these steps to pop the dent out:
Heat the affected area with your dryer, heat gun, or hot water. Less severe dents may pop out on their own with the application of enough heat.
If the dent won’t pop out, use a suction cup or rubber mallet to pull or gently hammer the dent out.
This method can fix round dents, but for a sharp dent, you may need to follow up with body filler to give the area a smooth, finished look.
Key Takeaway: Applying heat to a sharp dent in plastic may help the dent to pop out on its own.
How to get sharp dents out of metal
To fix a sharp dent in a car door or other metal components, you have a few options. You can use a mallet or hammer to knock the dent out, alternate heat and cold to manipulate the metal, or use a DIY kit to pull the dent out.
Knock the dent out from the other side
If you can get access to the other side of the dented metal, this is your best option. First, it helps to heat the area with a hairdryer or heat gun. Then use a rubber mallet or a hammer wrapped in a thick towel to gently knock the dent out from the other side.
Work carefully to avoid replacing the original dent with a bunch of smaller dents in the opposite direction!
Alternate heat and cold with dry ice
This method relies on some cool science—heating the area of the dent expands the metal, which makes it easier to manipulate. But if you follow the heat up with cold, the process will cause the metal to contract again and may pull it back into its original state.
To use this approach, you’ll need to wear a good pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands. Begin by heating the dent with your dryer, or pouring boiling water over the area. Cover the dent with tinfoil to trap the heat, then apply cold with a handful of dry ice cubes or a can of compressed air with dry ice. With any luck, the dent will pop out on its own.
Use a glue pulling kit
Glue works wonders on dents by giving you a strong grip to pull the dent out. You can find DIY glue pulling kits online. Follow the instructions on your kit—it will ask you to apply glue to the deepest part of the dent, attach a puller device, and pull the dent out.
Key Takeaway: You can use a variety of methods to deal with a sharp dent in metal, including mallets, glue, and dry ice.
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How to repair a dent with body filler
If the methods above still leave you with some visible damage, body filler may be your best method for smoothing out a dent too sharp to pull out. Body filler is a putty-like polyester resin used by auto body shops to return a car’s surface to normal after minor damage that can’t be removed through other methods. Think of it as a spackle for your car.
Here’s how to use body filler to repair a sharp dent in your car:
Pick the right type of filler. Body filler comes in three types—standard, medium, and premium—depending on the severity of the damage. For the lightest dents, use standard filler; if you’re dealing with a large or deep dent, it may be worth springing for the premium stuff.
Prepare the surface by cleaning and drying the area and using one of the methods above to smooth out the dent as much as possible. Sand down the paint around the area to give the filler something to stick to.
Mix your filler and coat the damaged area completely. Make sure you extend the putty a little around the surrounding area, so you’ll have a smooth finish once it’s sanded down. Let it dry before sanding.
Sand the putty down, starting with a rough grit. You may need to apply a second coat of filler. Use a finer grit around the edges of the filler for a smooth transition.
Apply primer and topcoat to the repaired area. Be sure to match the type and color of paint to the rest of your car’s body.
Using body filler is more labor-intensive than other methods of repairing dents, but it may be the only way to fix a sharp dent. You’ll save money by applying the filler on your own rather than taking the car to the shop, and you’ll have the satisfaction of fixing a difficult dent with your own skills.
Key Takeaway: Depending on the severity of the dent, body filler might be the best way to fix a sharp dent in a car.
What to do if you can’t remove a sharp dent
If you can’t remove the dent on your own, you can always take your car to the shop for a professional repair. If the dent is large or the paint is damaged, you may be dealing with a dent that’s beyond your ability to fix at home.
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