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A Beginner’s Guide to Car Dents: Everything You Need to Know

A Beginner’s Guide to Car Dents: Everything You Need to Know

Everyone has seen or experienced a dent. It’s just an impact that causes the metal to be pushed inward, which is both unsightly and potentially unsafe. However, it never hurts to learn a little bit more. So, let’s talk about car dents. More specifically: What are they, what causes them, and how they are repaired?

What Is A Dent?

Obviously, a dent exists when a particular surface has been caved inward. This is most often the result of an impact, and it doesn’t always take a large impact. You probably know all this, but here’s the important part: Knowing when a dent is truly a dent. Sometimes, a light impact (like a hailstorm) can damage the paint without actually denting the underlying metal. When this happens, you just need a new paint job. If this happens, you can count yourself among the lucky ones.

When the metal of your vehicle has been dented, but only to the tiniest degree, that is usually called a ding. A ding is obviously much easier to repair, and will certainly be cheaper to repair as well. When you truly have a dent in your vehicle, it will be pretty obvious because they are always larger than dings or spots of damaged paint.

Most Common Causes Of Dents

A lot of things can hit your vehicle while it’s out in the world, and it can even happen in your driveway at home. For instance, falling sticks and limbs from nearby trees can potentially cause a dent (or at least some ugly scratches). Impact with another vehicle will usually cause a large dent at the point of impact. Believe it or not, shopping carts are also one of the most common causes of denting. Although shopping carts don’t travel at a very high speed, they are made of steel and can build up some serious momentum on a downhill grade. We already mentioned hail, and that isn’t the only weather hazard, either.

Golf balls, baseballs, and other flying objects also frequently cause vehicle dents. Depending on where you live, this might be an everyday hazard. Finally, there is also the potential hazard of wildlife on the road. Hitting a large animal such as a deer or a vulture can cause major damage, and even hitting a small animal can cause minor damage or throw you off course and cause an accident.

How Dents Are Repaired

Now let’s focus on the positive part: How do you repair these issues? There are several methods, so we will discuss those that are most frequently used. However, the first thing you need to consider is whether or not you can employ paintless dent repair (PDR) techniques. Normally, repairing a dent requires that you repaint the damaged area. However, there are methods that allow a trained technician to remove dents while preserving the paint layer.

So, what’s the catch? Well, there’s only one: PDR only works for small to medium-sized dents. If you are dealing with a large dent, the paint will have already been damaged by the impact. As such, it cannot be saved no matter how skilled the technician might be. However, the majority of dents tend to be small enough for PDR to work. If your vehicle is dented in a serious way, you’ll probably need to replace the entire part anyway.

Dent Removal Techniques

There are a great many techniques that can be used to remove dents and dings. Sometimes, a special glue can be used. They apply the glue to the dented area, which allows a special tool to grip the glue and pull the dent outward. This is an older method, but it works quite well. In fact, it is probably the most common way to remove small dings.

For larger dents, things like that won’t do the trick. Instead, they have to use another special tool to hit the part from the inside, denting it in the opposite direction. Once that is done, any excess metal is trimmed away. This technique is sometimes called “knockdown.” Sometimes, this kind of thing can be done without hitting or tapping the metal. If the metal is flexible enough, pressure alone might be used. There are even some technicians who use a magnetic induction technique which involves heating the metal and then using a magnetic field to warp it in the right direction and assist in its removal.

Can Dented Plastic Be Repaired?

No vehicle today is made exclusively from steel. They all have at least some plastic parts, and this may include outer parts that are prone to denting and other impact damage. If you are dealing with a dented plastic panel or something of that sort, it can probably be repaired. They simply heat the dented area and use a suction puller to slowly remove the dent. As long as the plastic hasn’t been cracked or broken in any way, dented plastic parts can be repaired.


Although it is sometimes possible to repair a dent on your own, it really is better to trust trained experts. Besides, this kind of thing requires special tools that most people do not have. If you find yourself asking “where can I find a good and affordable auto body shop near me?”, we have the answer. Elmer’s Auto Body has been in the business for 75 years, and we always deliver the best in service and quality. To find out more, call us at (856) 218-0202.

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