Little dents in your car are incredibly frustrating. Sometimes just a ding in a car park can cause noticeable damage to the bodywork. And many car owners are turning to dent pullers to try and repair the damage themselves.
As the name suggests, these dent removal kits pull dents from the outside, unlike Paintless Dent Removal techniques, which push dents out from the interior. They are widely available and cheap to buy. But do they really work?
Before you attempt a DIY dent removal, read our advice on when to use dent pullers, what types are available and when it’s better to choose professional dent repair.
What are car dent pullers?
Car dent pullers are kits or devices designed to lift dents out of car bodywork and straighten the metal out. There are two main types – suction and glue kits.
Suction dent pullers work like plungers. Simply attach it to the dent and pull it up towards you to remove the dent.
Glue dent puller kits involve gluing a flat pulling tab directly onto the dent. In most kits this screws into a c-shaped tool whose two feet sit on the flat metal either side of the dent. The pulling tab has a screw function and you twist the handle to gradually pull the tab up and away from the car.
Other kits attach the pulling tab to a pole. Then you to slide a weight along the pole, like a bicycle pump, to provide the upward pressure.
ChipsAway word of warning: Do not use any dent puller kit that requires you to drill holes into the dent.
Do they work?
Dent pullers only work on shallow dents on flat, flexible surfaces. They can improve the appearance of dents but probably won’t create a perfect finish.
But these tools will not work on deep, angular dents or damage along the edges of bodywork. Dents in areas of thick metal will also be very difficult to remove at home.
Finally, do not attempt to use a dent puller on damaged paintwork – you may cause more damage. Professional dent removal services will always repair paint chips and scratches first.
How to use dent pullers
Always follow the instructions that come with your kit and bear in mind that most dents will require several attempts at pulling to get them out.
Then the first step is to clean the car surface thoroughly to remove grease and dry well – this helps the dent puller stick to the metal.
Suction dent pullers
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- Moisten the suction surface with a small spray of water and attach it to the car
- For small dents, attach the puller to the centre of the dent
- For large dents, begin pulling at the edges and work your way towards the middle
- Some suction dent pullers have handles that need lifting to create the suction pressure. Others require you to press the cup down
- Once the puller feels tightly attached to the car, begin pulling straight upwards towards your body
- Pull in small, quick pulses rather than one big tug. Take care not to fall backwards if the puller pops off suddenly
- If the dent puller comes away, reattach as above and try again
Glue dent pullers
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- Choose the pulling tab that best suits the size of the dent. Heat up the glue gun and apply a good size blob to the bottom of the pulling tab
- Carefully fix the tab to the dent but take care not to press too hard – there should be a good layer of glue between the tab and the metal
- Allow the glue to set for several minutes until hard
- Attach the pulling mechanism over the pulling tab and begin pulling the tab away from the car in short, quick movements
- Sometimes the tab pops off from the glue before the dent is removed. In that case, remove the glue with the substance provided, or isopropyl alcohol, and begin the process again
- If you pull the dent too far and create raised areas, use a rubber mallet to gently tap them back down
Risks and advice
If you use a dent repair kit and cannot remove your dent – stop. Don’t risk creating further damage to your car. Dent pullers have limited use and are not suitable for removing most types of dent.
For large, deep or stubborn dents, always take your car to see a professional. Here at ChipsAway, our specialist repairers can offer a dent removal service at our fully equipped CarCare centres, or our mobile specialists can come to you.