So you ran into the store to grab a carton of milk and once you returned-ouch! You've got a big, unsightly bump on your car door. Or perhaps you were driving through a storm and your car got struck by a large hail stone, leaving a dimple in the hood.
A stray baseball, fallen branch, or kicked up road gravel are all potential dents in your car. You could leave the indentation, but the paint can end up chipping off more, turning into a large splotch of discoloration.
Most people can not afford to bring their car in for dent removal every time you get a ding or two. Although you're taking a risk, you can attempt this on your own. It should only be done if the indentation has no missing paint and does not look crimped or as if it will crack.
On doors, dent removal is possible if they are fairly small and you have the right tools. Some stores sell special "popping" devices that use suction to suck the car body back into place. If you can not find one of these, a plunger works on the same principles. You simply place it on the door, make sure it forms a firm, airtight seal, and pull out, similar to how you would use it on a clogged toilet.
The knock should pop back into place, but it may take a few tries. If it does not work, it would be very difficult to cause damage with this method to your car.
If the indentation is on the hood or the top of the trunk, you can use a small rubber mallet and wood block to help knock it back into place and smooth it out. Get a small wood block, wrap it in a soft cloth to protect your car, pop the trunk or hood and hammer from the convex point, or the inside.
For the best dent removal, tap slowly and gently, ensuring that you are evenly knocking it out. If you notice any paint chipping stop before you create more damage. This method is a bit more risky as you can end up making more dents if you are not cautious.
So what do you do if home dent removal is not an option? If there is any paint chipping, cracking, folding, or the knock is very large, it is time to call the professionals.
If possible, they will try to pop it without damaging the paint. If the paint is already damaged, they will have to repaint the area and match it to the factory color. While this is possible, it is not ideal as it can lower the car value. If the damage is particularly severe, you may need some body work done which can be quite expensive. It's best to shop around at various auto shops that offer dent removal services to get a few opinions and prices, which can vary greatly.