Cars & Racing | 20 April 2016How To Repair a Group of Dents Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Tired of bringing your car into the shop to take care of nicks and dents? Worried about how much it’ll cost? Taking care of things yourself can be cheaper and easier than you think! In The Complete Guide to Auto Body Repair, 2nd Edition Dennis Parks will teach you how to fix all kinds of common car issues with simple, easy to follow visual guide. Here, you can follow along and learn how to repair clusters of dents: This Dodge sedan suffered some minor damage to the driver side doors and rear quarter panel. None of the damage was severe, and most of it could be repaired by a hobbyist. Careful attention to detail during the body repair and prep work will go a long way toward making this sedan look like new, once the repairs are completed. This photo shows the original damage before any metal straightening has been done. Where metal work is required and filler will be applied, the paint is removed completely by using a DA sander. Outside of this area, paint is removed, but the original primer or sealer is left intact. These two areas will receive the heaviest coatings of primer-surfacer, although it will be built up in thin layers, rather than in one thick coat. The large gray area has been scuffed lightly to offer good adhesion, though the original sealer is still intact. This sedan’s damage is typical of the sort of easy repairs a hobbyist can perform without relative ease. It consisted of a few small dents in the doors and rear quarter panel. No metal was creased or torn, and no glass was broken. Even if your sheet metal straightening skills are not the best, most of these repairs could be filled with body filler to a satisfactory degree. A deeper dent would simply take more layers of filler, as each application of filler cannot be very thick. To straighten sheet metal, you often need to pull it to remove a dent. To make this easier, this stud welder is used to temporarily weld small metal rods (about 1?8 inch diameter and 21?2 inches long) to the sheet metal. To make the studs most efficient, they should be placed in the deepest areas of the damage. Additional studs should then be placed in areas that are not as deep. A slide hammer can be slid over the rods one at a time, then slid out to pull the sheet metal into its correct position. Sometimes a hammer may need to be used to tap the metal back in slightly if it was pulled out too far. The slide hammer is moved to the next rod, then pulled out, to undo the effects of the impact. Learning how to read dents and knowing where to pull is an art that takes practice. Typically, the deepest portion of the dent is pulled out first, followed by the lesser dents. As long as none of the studs are removed, you can go back and pull previously pulled studs more, if necessary. After some pulling, progress is checked to verify that the panel has been returned to its proper contour. Return the panel as closely as possible to its original shape, though you don’t want any of the panel to be too high. High spots will need to be hammered back down (prior to application of filler), while subtle low spots can be filled. With the pulling completed, the rods can be cut off as close to the body as possible with a pair of diagonal cutters. The stubs are then ground away with a grinder and a coarse disc. The lip of the fender has been determined to be slightly low, so it is pulled out using the slide hammer and a fender lip attachment. A couple of more tugs with the slide hammer and it should be pretty close. A slight high spot is finessed back into place, using a small hammer. Older vehicles generally have thicker sheet metal, while newer vehicles generally have thinner, more pliable sheet metal. The amount of brute strength and finesse necessary depend on the vintage of the vehicle. Prior to the application of any body filler, the various layers of sheet metal, primer, and paint are quite evident on the rear quarter panel of this sedan. The very smallest dark area is where small rods were temporarily welded to the panel for use with the slide hammer to straighten the dent. The next larger area is where the paint has been sanded off to expose bare metal. Outside of this, the original primer or sealer can be used beneath the factory paint. Next is the paint, which has been scuffed to enhance adhesion of the primer-surfacer, and, finally, the untouched original painted surface. A mixing board with disposable tear-off sheets is great for mixing body filler. Appropriate amounts of filler and hardener are mixed together using a plastic spreader. After the filler is spread, the sheet is torn off and disposed of, providing a clean surface for mixing the next batch of filler. Using a flexible spreader and a careful eye, the filler is spread to fill any low spots. Care must be taken to minimize air bubbles. When the filler hardens, it can then be sanded to its final shape with 80- or 100-grit sandpaper. After using a slide hammer to straighten the metal to very near its original contour, two or three thin coats of body filler are applied to match the final contour. If pinholes are present after sanding the body filler, glazing putty can be used to fill them. These areas of body filler show that the actual damaged areas to this sedan were really four small dents (two in each driver side door) and a larger dent above the left rear wheel. If they were repainted separately, this car would look like a spotted leopard, so the entire side will be repainted. The doors on this sedan are relatively straight in the front-to-back direction, while they are contoured from top to bottom. To maintain this straightness, a long sanding board is used to sand front-to-back, while moving up and down along the door. Due to the irregular pressure of your hand, do not sand without using some type of sanding block. Using your hand alone with tend to make the panel wavy, as more pressure will be applied by your fingers and less in the area in between them. However, checking your progress while sanding by taking the time to feel the sanded panel with your hand will give a good indication of high and low spots. Be sure to use an air hose occasionally to remove any buildup of body filler dust. To scuff existing paint or as a final smoothing effort, you can use Scotch-Brite pads. Available in three different levels of coarseness, the coarsest is appropriate for scuffing paint before applying a sealer, while the finest works for final smoothing prior to applying primer-surfacer. Looking at this filled area after sanding has been completed, we can tell that filler (pale yellow) was used to cover the larger area, and a slight amount of glaze (light blue) was used to finish the edge of the wheelwell. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: Everything you need to know about auto body repair–updated and revised to cover water-based paints, the latest panel adhesives, and other body repair technologies. The only thing more reliable than rising gas prices is the wear and tear your car endures over its lifetime. Knowing how to repair your car without taking it to the body shop is a valuable skill for any car lover. If you want to restore, modify, or just fix up any car, from collector to custom, this is the book for you. In this updated and revised edition, author Dennis Parks covers new tools and techniques for dealing with ever-changing vehicular guidelines and technologies. New photography and updated step-by-step projects cover the latest information on panel adhesives, improved repair strategies, unibody vehicles, media blasting, panel overhaul and replacement, and tools and techniques for water-based paint products. The Complete Guide to Auto Body Repair provides all the information you’ll need to deal with any bumps, bangs, and bruises your car encounters, as well as the many repairs required during a car restoration project. From tools to materials to techniques, this book takes you all the way through the process. Learn how to disassemble, repair, and reassemble bodywork, as well as how to prepare surfaces for paint. The Complete Guide to Auto Body Repair equips you with all the information needed to return your car to its former glory and avoid paying a body shop for work you can do yourself. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.