Body work

Tiny
JACOB REYNOSO
  • MEMBER
  • 1987 JEEP CHEROKEE
  • 2.5L
  • 4 CYL
  • 4WD
  • MANUAL
  • 100,000 MILES
How would I remove dents with a dent puller tool and make the body look smooth?
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Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 AT 8:26 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Smooth? Not with a dent puller. To use those you have to drill a small hole, thread the end of the puller into it, then use the slide hammer to tug the dent out. Those have gone by the wayside for newer cars because the sheet metal is too thin. It will just tear and the dent will still be there. Also, these pullers were used for big dents from hard impacts. Today, when you have to pay by the hour for labor, it is much more cost effective to replace a panel, especially when it's a bolted-on panel like a fender.

Once the dent puller's job is done, you're still left with a lumpy mess that has to be ground and filled. You're only going to get the dent smaller, not better-looking.

For small dents like you'd get in a parking lot, stop in at any car dealership and ask who they use for their customers. We had a fellow who called his company "Dent Craft". He charged $50.00 per dent. He used a series of special prying and bending tools to go through the drain holes at the bottoms of doors, through window openings, and other ways that didn't involve making more holes. He also used a special light to see reflections, and the charge included using touch up paint for scratches. The dealer had to provide the touch up paint before the job was started.

I bought a new '93 Dodge Dynasty that got a dent and scratch on the driver's door before I ever took it off the lot for the first time. Later a baseball landed on the hood and made a dent and smudge in the paint. He got both of them out, and to this day I can't find where the damage was.

I've heard stories of people using a toilet plunger to get dents out, but that will only work on large dents that aren't very deep. If the dent was deep enough to crease the sheet metal, that crease will still be there. Use water to help the plunger seal, then pull slowly. The plunger is going to pull at its ring so the dent has to be larger in diameter than the plunger. It won't remove a small dent. All it will do is make a large dent going the other way.

You can also sometimes push a dent out from behind. This works best from inside the trunk for rear quarter panels. Here again there can't be creases in the sheet metal. The secret is to start by slowly applying pressure near the outer perimeter of the dent and work your way toward the center. We're inclined to start by pushing at the center of the dent, but doing so will push the perimeter out along with the center. You'll end up with a series of ripples or waves that will look worse than a simple bowl-shaped dent.
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Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 AT 11:13 PM

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