How do you fix a dent with paint damage?

Metal hoods/doors/roofs/fenders and plastic-bumpers dent when impacted with enough force. You can fix a minor dent with paint damage, even without experience. 

Ensure you’ve got the proper paint (a dealer can help), research, and understand exactly how to perform all tasks. 

You might try these methods yourself. Keep in mind, you could cause more damage to the vehicle. Therefore, before throwing caution to the wind, consult a body repair professional. Chula Vista Auto Body makes this easy; it starts with a same-day free estimate with I-CAR certified technicians.

If you choose the DIY route, here’s some tips you can use.

dent with paint damage


This method, while time-consuming, may offer best results.

Items Required:

Work gloves, safety goggles, mask

Body-filler such as Bondo and hardener

Automotive primer

Spray bottle & water

Sandpaper: grits: 150, 220, 400 


Glazing and spot putty

Rigid (& flexible) plastic spreaders

Masking (paint) tape and protective paper

Removing Dents with Body-Filler Method

  1. Sand damaged area (and 3+” surrounding dent) just to bare metal with 150-grit sandpaper for the Bondo to work.
  2. Measure/mix hardener and filler on a smooth surface using rigid spreader, fully aware: Bondo hardens after 4 minutes.
  3. Using a flexible spreader, spread filler to at least 3 inches outside the dent. Let filler harden.
  4. Wrap 150-grit sandpaper around a rubber sanding-block. Sand light/evenly using broad circular strokes over the entire repair surface, slightly past the edge of the filler. Aim for a smooth transition.
  5. Using 220-grit sandpaper, continue light/even, broad/circular strokes. Pits/gaps in the surface require a new filler batch. Repeat process until smooth. The result is a smoothly filled dent and smooth transition between the filler and the metal.
  6. Apply the spot putty; smoothing with the flexible spreader, across the entire repair area.
  7. Sand lightly/evenly using 400-grit sandpaper. Ensure the spot putty is sanded away. The area should be flat/smooth; even a small flaw can be seen after painting.
  8. Mask off outside the repair to protect the vehicle. Mask/goggle up. Spray the primer. Produce three light, even coats.
  9. Dry. Remove the tape/paper.
  10. Spray the repaired region and the 400-grit wet/dry sandpaper. Sand using straight/back-and-forth movement. Watch carefully. Do you see old paint? Perfect. Do you see metal? If so, repeat entire process.



Keep workspace well-ventilated.

Not advised for an entire panel.

Body-Filler Method


This strategy is useful for a body panel. Wet a sink/drain cup plunger’s end, stick/attach onto the dent. Gently pull to see if the dent pops out.

If this doesn’t work, try a suction cup dent puller that features one suction cup–or several cups on multiple-heads for extra pulling power.

Items Required:

Cup Plunger



Popping a Dent Out With a Plunger


  1. Push the plunger against the body panel where the dent is, ensuring the plunger is flat against the undented body.
  2. Pull the plunger back, making sure there is no vacuum leakage.
  3. Repeat this process a few times until the dent pops out. 



Use caution pulling the plunger back.

Use suction only up to 12” size.

remove dents with suction


Order a kit online or from your local parts store. Kits contain instructions and items needed to remove the dent.

Items Required:

Dent-removal kits usually include: 

Glue-gun/a ‘tab’


Pulling/prying tools

dent-removal kit

Popping a Dent Out With a Dent-Removal Kit


  1. Follow all instructions. 



Don’t improvise.

Purchase a kit meant for the vehicle’s type of dent

Depending on dent location(s), users often need to remove a damaged panel prior to working on dent(s). In such cases, see a professional first.