When you get in a small accident or fender bender, your first thought might be feeling grateful that you're safe. Your second thought might be "Uh oh... making those repairs is going to be expensive." In most cases, you really are best off leaving auto body repairs to the mechanics. They have the equipment and skills needed to restore your car to its former glory. However, if you are on a really tight budget or the car is a beater that you don't want to invest more than $50 in, you may be able to do an okay job of getting the dent out yourself. Here are three methods to experiment with.
1. Use a hair dryer and dry ice.
If you're able to get the dented area to change temperature rapidly, you may be able to get it to pop back out and flatten. You can attempt this by first aiming a hair dryer, set to the highest heat setting available, at the dent in the car's body. Keep the hair dryer running for about five minutes, holding it no more than a few inches from the car. Then, immediately take the hair dryer away and hold some dry ice against the cat's surface. (Hold the dry ice with tongs to avoid hurting your hands.) Does the dent pop right out? If so, your work here is done!
2. Use a plunger.
If the dent is shallow but wide, this is a good method to try. It works best with older cars that were made with thinner metal bodies. Take a plunger — the bowl-shaped type that you would use in a sink, not the flange-shaped type you'd use in a shower — and push it firmly against the side of the car, centering it on the dented area. Then, quickly pull the plunger away from the car. Try this five or ten times — if it does not work by then, it's not going to work.
3. Use boiling water and a plunger.
This method may work if the plunger method alone does not yield results. Pour a pot of boiling water over the dented part of the car's body before you place a plunger against the side of the car and try to pull the dent out. You'll need to move fast if you want to have success, so consider having a friend pour the water while you operate the plunger.