A 60 piece kit means you’ll never be hunting around for the right tab. Class-leading 100-watt hot glue gun. Separate dent lifter and puller, plus eco-friendly glue sticks for a well-thought out package.
Not much. Expensive – but highly rated by users.
Includes 24 strong tabs. Can remove dents of different shapes and sizes. Works great for door dings and hail damage.
Directions aren't very detailed.
Includes 24 different tabs for pulling out dents of a variety of different shapes and sizes. Can remove small and large dents. Features 40-watt hot glue gun with 10 glue sticks. Included tool bag keeps everything together.
The instructions could be clearer. Glue gun isn't of the best quality.
Features 24 different sized tabs and an LED light board to make it easier to find dents. Tools are made of stainless steel. Works well for automotive and refrigerator dents.
The light board isn't that powerful. Kit is much more expensive than many other similar ones.
Until relatively recently, repairing a vehicle body meant beating out the dents with a hammer, filling, sanding, and repainting. It was a complex, time-consuming, and expensive project. Today’s paintless dent repair (PDR) has numerous advantages. It’s equally effective but much faster, so it saves you time and money. And the paintwork is preserved in the majority of cases. It’s more environmentally friendly because there’s no need for filler or paint. But the biggest advantage is that you don’t need to take your car to the body shop. You can do the work at home.
All you need to get started is a good dent repair tool kit, and our recent research has identified some of the best currently available.
Along with our recommendations, we’ve also put together this shopping guide to explain the process and highlight some of the important features you will want to consider when making your choice.
The process is fairly straightforward, which is why you don’t need to be a highly-skilled body-shop technician to produce professional results.
Clean the area with rubbing alcohol.
Glue a “tab” onto the center of the dented area using hot glue (which doesn’t damage the paint).
Attach a “puller” to the tab (its rubber feet won’t damage the paint).
Apply pressure to the handle, pulling the steel back into place.
Remove the tab.
Clean the area with rubbing alcohol. In many cases the repair is invisible.
There are a few variations in the tools used, which we’ll discuss in a moment, but basically, it’s as easy as that. So why haven’t we always had these kits? There are two reasons:
Thinner steel: Modern vehicle body panels are made from steel that’s thinner but better quality. It’s more malleable, so it doesn’t require brute force to fix.
Many dent repair tool kits contain a puller, tabs, hot glue gun, glue sticks, and scraper. More comprehensive or expensive kits may include a few other items.
Bridge puller: This is the most common — even the cheapest kits usually contain a bridge puller, which can create considerable force. A central threaded knob does the actual pulling.
Gold puller: This type is so called because — for reasons we don’t know — they’re almost all gold colored! Mid-range kits include this type. These have two levers that are squeezed together. They can be quicker than bridge pullers, and it’s easier to vary the power, but unless you have phenomenal grip, they don’t exert the same maximum force.
There are two types of tab: plastic and threaded. Some kits have both, but many just have the plastic, which are easier to use. The advantage with threaded tabs is that they allow more power to be exerted, though they only fit specific threaded bridge pullers. It’s important to use a tab that best suits the size and shape of the dent you’re working on, so it’s generally a case of the more the merrier.
Hot glue guns: These range from 40 watts to 100 watts. We would always err on the side of more power because the gun is ready sooner and it melts the glue more thoroughly. If the glue isn’t melted properly, the tab will just fall off the body, which is very frustrating.
Scraper: One or more plastic scrapers should be included for cleaning up.
Bottle: You should also get a spray or pump bottle. You’ll have to supply the rubbing alcohol.
Cloth: A kit might include a cleaning cloth.
Gloves: Some kits include gloves.
Hammer: Better dent repair tool kits include a hammer (one metal face and one rubber face) which can be used with tap-down heads to work on areas that are sometimes raised up farther than you need during the pulling process. Alternatively, a specific tap-down hammer might be supplied.
LED lamp: This is occasionally provided. The idea is to shine light across the body panel to identify low spots. Not all of the lights are as effective as they could be, and a flashlight can perform the same function, so it’s not something we’d worry about.
Storage: It’s always nice to have a carryall to put everything in, but you don’t always get one.
It’s important to look for quality components and a reasonably powerful glue gun. That said, prices are largely defined by the number of pullers and other components in the kit.
Inexpensive: Cheap dent repair tool kits start at just over $10, but these probably only come with a bridge puller and a very limited set of tabs. Some don’t even include a glue gun. If you’ve got one dent to fix, you’re not really wasting any money, but we’d be inclined to pay a little more.
Mid-range: Spend between $30 and $60 and you have enormous choice. The majority of kits fall in this bracket and provide adequate solutions for most users.
Expensive: High-end kits start at around $80 and can run to $160. Given their comprehensive nature, these still represent good value. It really depends on how many tools you need and how often you have dents to repair.
Assess the damage first. If the paintwork is scratched or cracked, this kind of dent repair kit can make the situation worse. You’ll need to decide whether you can live with a touch-up paint job or it’s time to take your vehicle to a professional body shop.
Work in the shade. The temperature should be between 60°F and 80°F. If it’s too hot, the glue won’t set fully.
Clean the area thoroughly with rubbing alcohol. You need to remove wax, grime, or grease so the glue can stick to the surface properly.
Stick all the tabs on at the same time if you have several dents. Wait five minutes for the glue to set, then pull each in turn.
Be patient and thorough. Though the process is known for its speed, that’s in comparison with traditional filling, sanding, and repainting. Professionals tell us that paintless dent repair takes half an hour or longer. If there’s more than one dent, it could take several hours.
Be careful tapping down raised areas. Pulling irregular dents can result in some areas coming up higher than the surrounding surface. That’s when your tap-down hammer comes into play. The poly heads transmit force without damaging the paint, but you need to be careful. Use lots of light taps. Excessive force could create new dents and you’ll have to start over.
Q. Can paintless dent repair really remove dents completely?
A. It depends on the severity of the dent, but yes, with care and patience, panels can be returned to their original condition. Modern vehicles have very flexible paint, so as long as that’s intact, the repair can be invisible. One specialist we consulted said around 95% of dents can be successfully treated using this method.
Q. Is there a maximum or minimum size of dent that can be repaired?
A. It’s not an easy question to answer because it depends on where and how deep the dent is. Common problems like door dings and hail damage are very fixable. Damage to panel edges is difficult because of access and the thickness of the steel. Very small but deep dents can be problematic. However, given the cost of dent repair kits compared to what a body shop charges, almost anything is worth a try!
Q. Can I just push or hammer a dent out from behind or use one of those suction pullers?
A. You can try, but it’s not something that’s recommended. A very large, shallow dent might pop out, but the method isn’t precise, and the results are often disappointing.
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