If you scratch your arm, your arm will heal. If your car gets a dent, the dent doesn’t go anywhere. Because metal or plastic car bodies are relatively pliable, knowing how to fix a fender bender can restore its appearance. You may even be able to fix it yourself with stuff around the house. Internet mechanics have a lot of ideas, but which ones really work? Here are the top five methods on how to fix a fender bender.
1. Suction Cup: Super Easy
Depending on the severity of the dent, you might have everything you need. A flat sink plunger can work on larger areas, while a cellphone windshield mount can handle smaller areas. This dent puller has a convenient pulling handle. Clean the dented area, then squish the suction cup into the dent. Pull straight out, and the dent should pop. This can be effective on shallow concave dents, less so on complex dents or creases.
2. Hot Water: Easy
Because plastic is so pliable, dent removal can be easier. Boil a pot of water and pour it over the damaged area, softening the plastic. Then, from behind the bumper cover, push out the dent. This is moderately effective, even on deep dents, but may not result in a perfect appearance as the plastic has already been deformed. A hairdryer can also be used for this method.
3. Hair Dryer and Compressed Air: Easy
Here’s another method for how to fix a fender bender using hot air and cold air. Use a hairdryer or a heat gun to heat up the dented area. Then, freeze it with compressed air. As heat expands the body panel, cold will shrink it, pulling the dent out. This works best on shallow dents in plastic body panels but may work on metal panels. This is somewhat effective because dents may reappear with a change in the weather.
4. Hot Glue and Pulling Handles: Tedious
One interesting DIY method uses hot glue to stick wooden dowels to the dent, a take on professional dent removal kits. The dowels let you pull on different parts of the dent. Be patient using this method, waiting for the glue to set, and only pulling straight — pull at an angle to remove the dowel. A hairdryer softens the glue for removal. This method is moderately effective, depending on the severity of the dent and your patience as a puller.
5. Body Filler and Repainting: Most Difficult
For complex dents and creases, it may be best to build it back up to its original contour using body filler. You’ll need a clean area to work and several supplies, such as body filler, wet-dry sandpaper, cutting compound polish, and paint. This requires the most patience and care, as each step compounds any imperfections in the previous step. Still, this is a super effective method for how to fix a fender bender.
Once you get beyond the suction cup, you may realize pulling dents doesn’t always result in like-new appearance, which not everyone is shooting for. For a quality dent removal and refinishing like new, consulting your local collision center is the way to go.
Check out all the paint & body products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to fix a fender bender, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Image via Flickr.
Ben has been taking things apart since he was 5, and putting them back together again since he was 8. After dabbling in DIY repairs at home and on the farm, he found his calling in the CGCC Automobile Repair program. After he held his ASE CMAT for 10 years, Ben decided he needed a change. Now, he writes on automotive topics across the web and around the world, including new automotive technology, transportation legislation, emissions, fuel economy and auto repair.