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OT: Any tips for removing small hail dents?

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  • OT: Any tips for removing small hail dents?

    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!

  • #2
    OT- removing small dents

    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



    • #3
      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.
      Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


      • #4
        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.
        Been there, probably broke it, doing that!
        I am not a lawyer, and never played one on TV!
        All the usual and standard disclaimers apply. Do not try this at home, use only as directed, No warranties express or implied, for the intended use or the suggested uses, Wear safety glasses, closed course, professionals only


        • #5
          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.
          Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


          • #6
            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.


            • #7
              >>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"

              Last edited by Fred White; 08-01-2006, 05:55 PM.


              • #8
                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


                • #9
                  Try this site and use search for Hail damage.




                  • #10
                    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.


                    • #11
                      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)
                      Master Floor Sweeper


                      • #12
                        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.
                        Lynn S.


                        • #13
                          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
                          Mark Hockett


                          • #14
                            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.
                            Last edited by BadDog; 08-01-2006, 07:47 PM.
                            Master Floor Sweeper


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by WJHartson
                              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.

                              The curse of having precise measuring tools is being able to actually see how imperfect everything is.