Can You Do Paintless Dent Repair Yourself?

Paintless dent repair, sometimes called paintless dent removal, is a process that removes minor dents from motor vehicles. If you commonly perform your own repairs on your car, you might wonder, can you do paintless dent repair yourself? 

Will the process result in a damaged car if you don’t use professional tools? Does it take the knowledge of a professional to repair the dent?

It’s a terrible feeling to know that you have a dent on your car, particularly if you take care of your vehicle and treat it as a long-term investment. Unfortunately, bumps, scrapes, and marks may happen in the most innocuous circumstances. Someone might open their door into your car and create a dent.  

You might take a turn a little too close around a curve and bump a pole. Someone might accidentally let go of a shopping cart that creates a dent. Can you fix these minor issues yourself?

Let’s learn more about paintless dent repair and whether you can complete the process independently or need a professional to help ensure the process goes smoothly.

Is paintless dent repair hard?

The true difficulty level of paintless dent repair is based on the location of the dent and the number of dents. A car covered in dents from a hailstorm is a difficult dent repair job. However, a small dent on an open area of the vehicle that’s easily accessible is always a more straightforward process. Typically, it’s very challenging for an amateur to preform paintless dent repair but can be very easy and painless if performed by a professional technician.

For professional auto body shops, dent repair is a routine project that doesn’t take a lot of time. It’s simply knowing how to fix the problem and using the right tools. For the DIY crowd, paintless dent repair might not seem complicated. Still, the methods available to vehicle owners aren’t always 100 percent effective.

Think of PDR as 80% artistic and 20% mechanical. Just because someone is good at DIY projects, doesn’t mean that it’s a great idea to attempt PDR.

Do paintless dent removal at home methods work?

We are asked all the time if dry ice, suction cups, or even magnets can be effective in repairing dents on a vehicle. Some clients will even try to simply put a foot behind the panel and pop out a dent from the inside.

While some social media videos may show the rare cases where these methods do move metal, typically DIY methods have little to no effect on the metal. Some can even cause damage by stretching metal or pulling paint.

The most tried and true course of action is to take your vehicles into a dent removal shop and have them asses the damage for free.

How is paintless dent removal done?

When you bring your car to a professional for dent repair service, the technician will assess the job and determine the best way to access the damage. They might remove trim pieces or panels inside the car, or they might need to get underneath the vehicle for access.

Specialized tools help the technician massage the dent out of the car’s surface. Rather than sanding down the surface, filling the dent with putty like Bondo, and repainting the car, the technician will take their time to remove the dent with tools that won’t harm the surface of the vehicle.

How long does paintless dent removal take?

Some dents only take a few minutes to repair, but others may take a few hours. The majority of paintless dent removal jobs take a few hours or less, but the technician may require more time when there are several dents from a catastrophe like a hailstorm.

If your vehicle is taken to a collision center dent removal typically requires the removal of paint, the addition of adhesive, and repainting, the process can take a week or two. If your technician can complete paintless dent removal, it’s always the faster and easier option.

Can you DIY paintless dent repair?

Shops like EZ Auto Spa see an extraordinary number of vehicles each year with all sorts of dents and dings, from those that come from parking lots to dents from hailstorms. When a vehicle is covered in dents from a hailstorm, it’s often best to let the professionals handle the work. 

However, can you handle a repair on your own? What if you have a single door ding from a parking lot. Can you remove that dent with the tools you have at home? Some drivers report success removing some minor dents with tools they’ve had around the house. Other owners have fixed their dents with DIY dent repair kits from an auto parts store.

Unfortunately, these kits and some of the tools you find at home have a very low success rate. One of the most significant factors that impact whether you should bother with at-home paintless dent repair is whether you want to take the time and energy to try and if you are willing to risk damaging your vehicle further. There’s a good chance a DIY attempt won’t entirely remove the dent, and you’ll need to take the car in to the professionals anyway.

How do you remove paintless dents at home?

There are a handful of interesting dent removal techniques that the DIY crowd swears by when it comes to removing dents. Here are some methods that reportedly work for some vehicle owners.

Toilet Plunger

The most popular and straightforward option is using a plunger. Yes, a plunger from your bathroom may help you repair a dent. The process requires that you stick the plunger over the dent to create a seal and give it a solid yank, as you might in a toilet.

Boiling Water

If you have a dent on an area of plastic, you might try pouring boiling water on the area and pulling the dent out with your hands. Boiling water apparently softens the plastic enough that sometimes you can pop a dent out, like on the corner of a bumper.

Dry Ice

Some people swear that dry ice can remove dents from cars. The process involves holding a piece of dry ice against the dented area and allowing the extreme cold to work its magic and pop the dent out without any extra effort from you.

Compressed air and heat

You can try this option if you have a can of compressed air that you usually clean your computer keyboard with and a hairdryer. Use the hair dryer on its hottest setting and heat the area with the dent. Then, use a blast of frigid compressed air to force the area to contract and pop the dent.

Can you do paintless dent repair yourself with any of these methods? You might get lucky, and the dent may cooperate, but most of these methods don’t work the first time, and they might not work the second or third time, either. 

Often, it’s just easier to take the car into a paintless dent removal company because they’ll never come back to you and tell you they can’t remove the dent. It’s their job to remove dents and imperfections in vehicles, and they’ll get the job done without any hassles on your end.

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