View Full Version : OT: Any tips for removing small hail dents?

08-01-2006, 03:49 PM
My wife's van got caught in two different hail storms in a week and a half. There are really only 2 pronounced dents on the hood that are super-noticable. I would really like to take care of these myself and put the insurance money to better use. I was just going to try tapping them out from the underside with a soft mallet. My father-in-law mentioned something about placing dry ice around the spots to contract the metal and snap the dents back out. Anybody got any trade secrets? At most they are about an inch in diameter. Thanks guys!

Norman Atkinson
08-01-2006, 04:08 PM
Try a rubber sucker for clearing blockages in toilets and basins.

It will do no damage and cost nothing.

I have a City and Guilds in Vehicle Body Restoration but would not recommend more than removing the headlining and using a heavy push with a finger or thumb.
The worry is actually stretching the metal and getting an oil drum effect with the metal going the other way.

Good luck


08-01-2006, 04:51 PM
I've seen lots of hail dents. When I worked in Edmonton on aircraft one storm went through that dropped hail the size of baseballs. We had a brand new Cessna 185 to repair that had every upper skin damaged. It also broke the plexiglass windscreen after breaking through the roof of the tee hanger it was in. The next year a storm went through over the Edmonton GM new car storage lot. They had an auction of about 500 new cars that looked like somebody had worked them over with a ball peen hammer.

The metal is stretched. Dry ice won't fix it. The only way to deal with it is as with any other body work repair. Fill, sand and paint. Trying to hammer it out will stretch the metal even more and may well cause an oilcan on the panel as Norm points out.

08-01-2006, 04:55 PM
or you can use a small dia suction cup and hopt glue pull it out gently to avoid the oil can effect. to remove the hotglue use a hair dryer a low melt hot glue works best. this is the same type of fancy set they were selling on TV last year. Also in certain places a backing board and inner tube will work fire up the air compressor till it pops outs and then stop. Works with large panel dents with no creases.:)

08-01-2006, 05:19 PM
With hail dents it's the same as hitting it with a hammer. The metal has been stretched in the entire zone of the dent. With skill and practice it is possible to hammer it out and repaint, but if sidegrinder knew how to do that he wouldn't be asking here.

It won't pop out with suction or other similar tricks.

08-01-2006, 05:40 PM
My friend had his daughters car "paintless" dent repaired.

Hail damage wasn't severe but very noticable, black car.

Car looks great after they fixed it. Some of the dents were behind double wall on the hood so I know they didn't hammer from the back side...

Don't know how it's done.

Fred White
08-01-2006, 05:47 PM
>>Don't know how it's done.

They drill small holes and insert rods with various ends on them to "pry" them out. On door edges, then they put small rubber plugs in the holes to cover the drilled holes.

Sometimes you can find the tools and instructions advertised on eBay. Search eBay for "dent removal"

http://search.ebay.com/dent-removal_W0QQcatrefZC5QQfclZ3QQfromZR7QQfrppZ50QQfs ooZ1QQfsopZ1QQnojsprZyQQpfidZ0QQsacatZQ2d1QQsofocu sZbs

08-01-2006, 06:01 PM
The paintless dent removal involves a rod that is shaped like a stove poker with the tapered end bent. It is braced against the inner panel and twisted to apply pressure to the dent. By watching the dent in good light one can work around the edges very gently and push ever so lightly in a circular spiral pattern until the dent is gone. It take practice, and you must develope your skill to remove dents this way, but if done correctly it does not stretch the metal and the dent will not need to be repainted. Look on Ebay for the tools

08-01-2006, 06:07 PM
Try this site and use search for Hail damage.



john hobdeclipe
08-01-2006, 06:19 PM
But if the metal is stretched at the dent, when it gets pushed back out it should leave a high spot, right?

Those "paintless dent repair" places popped up like mushrooms around here after the big hailstorm we had 4 years ago (Dallas, TX area.) I never took our vehicles in to get them de-dentified...always wondered what those places did. So many of them advertising all of a sudden, I didn't trust them.

The Collings Foundation B-17 got caught on the ground in that same storm, and required partial reskinning at the end of the season.

08-01-2006, 06:35 PM
In an earlier life, when I was young, I owned and/or ran a body shop for several years (long story involving a merger of sorts). Anyway, hail damage is a huge PIA to repair and I would generally recommend pressuring the insurance to total it if at all possible, and it often is because of the labor intensive repairs. Failing that, replace every skin with OEM replacements. Do NOT let someone go over it with body filler unless it's just made very tiny little rock chip like damage. But if it’s any worse than just a “chip” and tiny dimple, then just as Evan said, it’s stretched like hitting it with a hammer and trying to “push it out” is just going to ripple the panel. Multiple impacts harder than "just a chip and tiny dimple" will also have rippled the panel on it's own in many (typical) low crown and largely unsuported panels (like a roof, hood, or trunk lid). My mother’s car got caught like that and the agent told her that there was no way they would total it, they wouldn’t even pay for skins and insisted on coating every panel with body filler. They didn’t even include new edge trim around the windows and such in their estimate, claimed they could “straighten” that extruded/pressed aluminum trim. And this was on a midnight blue car!

After I got through talking to the shops that gave the estimates and explained that I would be the one approving the results, not a middle aged woman with no clue, they explained to the insurance company that they no longer thought that this was a viable repair. Having done insurance work, a shop does NOT want to deal with an unhappy customer and arbitration, particularly when the results are pretty much guaranteed to be FAR below the original condition before the storm The insurance company then totaled the car, funny how that worked out.

(It was a bit more involved than that, but too much typing to go into details)

Lynn Standish
08-01-2006, 07:16 PM
Paintless dent removal works. I just had hail dents taken out of my dark metallic green pickup, and I'd defy anyone here to show me a flaw in the finish resulting from either the dent or the repair.

Mark Hockett
08-01-2006, 07:41 PM
I worked as an auto mechanic for many years at a few different new car dealerships. At least once a week the paintless dent repair guys were there removing dents from the used cars that were getting ready to go on the lot for sale. They would mostly remove door dings but I saw them do some pretty amazing stuff. They would always hide in the back corner of the lot so no one would see how they do it.

I became friends with one of the guys so I kind of got an idea how they do it but not enough to try it myself.
They have a large selection of about 5/16" to 1/2" hardened metal rods. The rods range from 1' to 4' long. At one end of most of the rods there was a 90-degree bend. At the end of the 90* bend the rod was bent in a U shape causing a smooth radius. At the other end of the rod there was another 90* bend that was about 1' long to use as a handle. Between each end the rods they were bent in different shapes to reach different positions. They also had other rods to gain leverage but I don’t remember the shapes.

The other main tool used is a white A frame board with a black line down the middle.

From what I learned, to fix a door ding they drill a small hole in the door jam. They set the A frame board up so they can see the reflection of the line in the dented panel. Then they snake the rod through the hole in the jam and using the handle to twist the rod they apply pressure at various points on the dent. They can tell when the dent is gone by the reflection from the black line on the A frame board. When they are done they put a rubber plug in the drilled hole. They have other procedures for dents in other places and they can get most of them.

Just like most guys who do bodywork there is an art to it. And if the paint is cracked or the metal too stretched they can't fix it.

The down side is they usually have to drill a hole, which if not sealed properly can cause corrosion. Many new vehicle manufactures do not recommend that type of repair because the rod rubbing on the panel can remove the corrosion protection from the inside of the panel being repaired. Also back then it cost about $50.00-$75.00 per dent which can add up. The dealership got a special deal because there would be quite a few vehicles to do.

We used a company like this,
They have a good description of how it works.

Mark Hockett

08-01-2006, 07:44 PM
Again, depends on the severity and the vehicle (both materials and shape). While it will certainly work for shallow dents that are not structurally deforming (only elastic “sprung” deformation), such as that caused by fairly light hail or parking lot ding, it simply can not work for larger hail (like my Mother's car) due to the stretching. I’ve fixed “dented” panels that looked to have similar damage where one popped out “perfect” and the other required body work, it’s not that easy to “know” which way it will go even with experience. And with hail often having a very irregular surface, the paint is quite often damaged anyway making it a moot point unless touch-up paint is acceptable to the owner. Because of my background, I also tend to notice a lot more "problems" with repairs than most, and there are numerous times I've pointed out problems with repairs where people were convinced that the repair was "perfect".

Just because it worked for one case, or to a level acceptable to a single person, certainly does not globally qualify the technique for all hail damage and all people. But by the same token, it will work for some, and so I realized after re-reading that my earlier statement was far to limited as I was speaking of the more typical (in my experience) case where real damage occurred to the metal.

08-01-2006, 08:05 PM
Try this site and use search for Hail damage.


I'd have to second Joe's recommendation. There are some fart smuckers over at metalmeet that know sheet metal work.

For severe hail, you may be out of luck, but usually tricks using hot and cold will do the job. Check 'em out.


08-01-2006, 08:29 PM
I was on vacation in South Dakota in 1982 and got caught in a hail storm that resulted in $3500 in damages. They replaced all the panels and trim that was damaged. Even under the padded roof! After reading your post I done a search on Goggle for “removing hail dents” It’s amazing how many say they can do paintless repair. I wish you the best.

08-01-2006, 08:56 PM
My accross the street neighbour in NJ had a new SUV, the first in his life, his wife had a new Honda, the first new car in her life. And we have got a bad hail storm. Their cars looked unbelivably bad. Few days later I noticed their cars fixed. A guy, retired from IBM, came and did something - no holes whatsoever, he did not damaged the new paint at all, he did not remove any panels. He fixed them all for relatively speaking little money, they even did not bother the insurance.
I bought a floor model refrigerator about 3 months ago. It had a little but visible dent on the front SS door, but the price was right. When I got home the dent was gone. Somehow just the vibrations of travel did it. Now, I know I did not tell you how to fix it, but what I told you is that it can be fixed without any destruction, holes and so on. If I am you, I would ask around, do not give up, there is a way. Just because someone does not know about it, does not mean it does not exist. Frankly, I always had a suspicion that something like a liquid nitrogen or something less drastic would shrink that metal, but now I am speculating and know nothing about it. We are not talking about hammer blows, we are talking about relatively innocent hail dents. Vic

Norman Atkinson
08-02-2006, 03:27 AM
I think that people are missing the point. The question from sidegrinder was how HE might remove the the hail dents. We have now really wandered off the subject because he didn't want to involve an insurance claim and/or a hefty bill for professional work.

I have recently done a small fender repair to my daughter's car which was black metallic and that paint was originally water based, required low bake and being finished with clear over base. In this day and age, a perfectly normal vehicle but totally different to one a few years earlier and another one which was around in my body shop days and one which was when I started on 1935 vehicle to drive!
Again, in those years, the metal has constantly changed in its properties during the same period both in composition and thickness.

I noticed that others who had actual experience were sufficiently cautious not to go beyond limits which were within the expected abilities of sidegrinder.
None of wanted him to get into a situation which would add to his already difficulties.

How WE would go about the job was never brought in to the discussion.
From the foregoing, you will appreciate that an experienced body worker might adopt differing techniques to match the vehicle construction and the true nature of the damage.

I fear that much of the discussion might lead him to extended problems.
Having said all that, repairing vehicle bodies isn't rocket science. It is fairly simple stuff but it does require a great deal of hands on practice which cannot be found on a , hopefully, 'one off' problem.


08-02-2006, 09:16 AM
Echoing Norman, is is quite possible to repair this type of damage without going to extreme lengths. It will depend on the nature of the dent of course.

The modern, light weight high tensile steels are more likely to "oil can" and can be popped out to the original state in many instances.

Extreme heat or cold is often used to straighten or bend steel. I would suggest giving it a try if dry ice is readily available. Chances are, that if it doesn't work, it won't make it worse, and even if it does, it will probably not add significantly to the cost to repair.

Monitor it closely, and if it starts going the wrong way, reverse the method of application. You may get a pleasant surprise.

A.K. Boomer
08-02-2006, 10:51 AM
Never tried the dry ice method but iv repaired many of hail damaged car myself,,, Hail dents can be totally removed on a high gloss black car without ever noticing it, here's the thing, they have to be small to moderate,,, if they are big ones then they have indeed stretched the metal...

Tools you will need, get a variety of spoons from the kitchen, you can use the back side of them to "roll" the dent out, get all your screwdriver handles and look at the round end, if they are uniform you can use these to, dont let them slip sideways under pressure or you will leave a raised streak of metal that looks like crap,,, different size dents and the area's that they are in require different shaped convex objects to push them out,,, I.E. a dent that is formed on a round fender is much "sharper of a dent",,, In the hard to reach area's you will have to make some bent rods that are polished,,,,, wax the surface and put a good light on it, if you want to get fancy get some kind of a grid that you can see behind in the relection, a grid with fine vert. and hori. lines gives a good reference,,, if your very careful you can learn along the way with a few minor mistakes, dont ever use a hammer and dont use anything to sharp or you will crack the paint, Iv done many of car to where people cant tell (dropping the headliner and stuff), im also aware of the fact that the real guys have little hydraulic kevlar balloons that they can manipulate under braces and such to where i might have to drill an access hole and also not get as good as a job but this topic started with you wanting to do it yourself so here ya go......... It really is an art and it takes a ton of muscle the way i do it,,, getting a roof dent out thats in the middle of the roof while pushing on it and still keeping your head above the door frame to veiw requires straight arms and strong shoulders, i know i can feel it the next day,,, good luck.

08-02-2006, 11:40 AM
Thanks for all the good info guys! The dents are not as bad as I may have described. Maybe more like "dings". I'm going to try the dry ice method and will report back. Thanks again!

J Tiers
08-02-2006, 01:56 PM
The dry ice deal is deceptive.....

The whole idea is to get the metal to "temporarily" shrink enough to pop through a severe "oil canned" condition, and hopefully back to straight.

And, it often works on the right sort of problem. The metal cannot have been stretched very much, or it won't have the elasticity to allow it to stay in the "popped back" condition.

In some cases, since it is still a "can", it is unstable. Any outside force, even leaning on the fender, MAY pop it back to the dented condition the way it was.

I have heard of the dents popping back, due to temperature changes, or if bumped, pressed on, etc.

08-02-2006, 07:26 PM
Found this on the web, take a look

john hobdeclipe
08-02-2006, 08:45 PM
Thanks for all the good info guys! The dents are not as bad as I may have described. Maybe more like "dings". I'm going to try the dry ice method and will report back. Thanks again!

Yes, please let us know what you try, and how it works. Pix, too.

john clements
08-03-2006, 05:52 AM
Put your mouth over the tail pipe and blow as hard as you can (don't forget to roll the windows up first)

John C

A.K. Boomer
08-03-2006, 10:07 AM
My old 1990 CRX Si did 135mph with very few modification, i just let it breath and flowed the head,,, thing is -- got caught in a hail storm and it would do 137mph after that ----------- there's a reason that golf balls have those little divots in them:D

08-04-2006, 08:48 AM
{{in those years, the metal has constantly changed in its properties during the same period both in composition and thickness}} Well, Norm, you nailed that on the head. Hope it didn't hurt too much! You can always use a drawhammer, too.

08-06-2006, 04:51 PM
Put the dry ice down and step away from the car. No honestly I do paintless dent repair for a living. I have seen what dry ice will do to a car, it burns a nice little circle in the paint. We hear it all on the road.(If I leave it in the sun theyll pop out on there own). Doesnt work either. If there 2 small dents A pdr shop shouldnt charge more than 50 dollars. Of course that brings up the other side of the story how small a dent is small. Some peoples Idea of small is a train wreck. Good luck I believe this is my first post here but though id save you the heart ache of ruined paint.

08-06-2006, 05:38 PM
Short update...I'm leaning away from the dry ice thing now. sure don't want to make it worse. I followed Norman's advice--I belive-- and had some success using the small suction cup on the end of a hand valve ginder thingy. It's not yet perfect, but I doidn't make it any worse either. This board is a great resource for info like this. Thanks alot everybody!!!

08-06-2006, 05:57 PM
Boomer beat me to it. I was going to suggest hoping for another hailstorm, and just let the gods do their work. You can trade off looks for better gas mileage. :)

Alternatively, you can buy all the kids in the neighborhood bb guns, and let them go to it. Mention something about confining the shots to the sheet metal. :)

What came to my mind while reading this thread is capacitive discharge coin shrinking. Maybe it's possible to apply a similar procedure to shrinking dented spots in sheet metal.