Small dents and car-door dings can be costly to have repaired at an auto-body repair shop. It can also mean you will be without your car for a couple of days. If you don't get them fixed, though, they could begin to rust which leads to even more costly repairs. There's no need to pay all that money and give up your car. Repairing the dents your-self is surprisingly simple. All it takes is a short list of tools and supplies, some elbow grease and an afternoon. Here are answers to the questions you may have about repairing dents in your car yourself.
Do I need to replace an entire panel on my car if it gets dented?
Not if the panel only has one or two dents. Those can be easily and inexpensively repaired. If the panel has more wide-spread damage, it is often cheaper to just replace the whole panel. This is especially true if the damage is on a front fender or rear quarter-panel.
Do I need to keep my car out of the weather for a few days to let the paint dry?
No, car paint dries very quickly. A freshly-painted car can usually be washed by hand within 24 hours.
Should I park my car in a heated garage to repair dents?
The car should be parked in a garage to protect it from the weather while you are repairing the dents. The garage only needs to be heated if the temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature of 70 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Make sure there is plenty of ventilation in the garage.
What types of tools do I need to fix the dents on my car?
You will need an angle grinder, electric drill with an extension cord, filler spreader and a sanding block. For your protection, get a good dust mask, a respirator, heavy latex gloves, safety glasses, and earplugs. Supplies that will be required include 24-grit, 80-grit, 180-grit and 320-grit sandpaper as well as 600-grit wet sandpaper, a tack cloth, wax remover, masking tape, newspaper, body filler and finishing glaze. You will also need to buy automotive primer and paint.
Do I have to sand and paint the whole panel just to fix a few dents on my car?
No, just the dent and immediate surrounding area. Put the 24-grit sandpaper on the angle grinder and use it to sand the paint off the dented area. Go over the stripped dented area with 80-grit sandpaper wrapped over a sanding block. Use the 80-grit sandpaper to lightly rough up the surrounding paint and feather it out gradually. Wipe the dent and surrounding area with wax remover to clean off any waxy residue then wipe the whole panel with a tack cloth.
Can I mix up the body filler and hardener in a bowl?
Mix the hardener into the body filler on a metal or glass mixing board. The shape of a bowl is not conducive to mixing hardener into body filler. Wear heavy latex gloves when working with body filler. If there is a film across the top of the filler when you open the container, stir it with a paint stir. Scoop a golf-ball-size dab of body filler out onto the mixing board. Add five to eight drops of hardener. Drag the filler spreader through the body filler across the mixing board in a 'Z' shape, lift the filler with the edge of the spreader, fold the filler over onto itself then drag the spreader through the filler in a 'Z' shape again. Repeat these steps until the filler is a uniform color. Mixed body filler is usually pink or blue.
How do I use body filler to fill dents in my car door?
Spread a very thin layer of mixed body filler over the sanded dent with the filler spreader. Use the spreader to firmly press the filler onto the metal. This first layer will squeeze any air out of the scratches and moisten the metal. Apply a thicker layer over the thin layer to slightly over-fill the dent. Let the body filler dry. It usually dries enough to sand in about 10 to 30 minutes. Touch the filler with your hand every few minutes to determine if it is dry enough to sand. When it's ready for sanding, the body filler will no longer be tacky and will feel hot due to the chemicals reacting with each other while the body filler dries. After the body filler has dried, sand it with 80-grit sandpaper then 180-grit sandpaper on a sanding block. Shape the filler to match the surrounding panel. Use the 180-grit sandpaper to feather the body filler out to the painted surface. Apply the finishing glaze over the body filler. Let it dry then sand it smooth with 180-grit sandpaper then 320-grit sandpaper.
Do I have to spray the dent with primer before I spray it with paint?
Yes, you do. Tape the panel off with newspaper and masking tape to prevent overspray on the surrounding panels and windows. Put on the respirator. Spray primer over the filler and any exposed metal. Let the primer dry for 30 to 35 minutes then wet-sand the primer until it is smooth. Use 600-grit wet sandpaper to sand the primer. Hold a wet sponge over the area and squeeze the water out onto the primer as you sand. Wipe the primer down with a tack cloth after it dries. Spray the area with paint. Apply the paint in multiple light coats until it matches the surrounding paint. Let the paint dry for five minutes between each coat. Let the paint dry for 30 minutes then apply the clear coat. Apply four or five light layers of clear coat. Wait 10 minutes between coats.