Shopping carts. Kids. Parking lots. Golf balls. Hail. Other drivers. These are the biggest threats to the exterior of your vehicle. Yet even with care and awareness, a car dent or door ding are unavoidable aspects of owning a vehicle. But don't stress.
If you're on the receiving end of a minor fender bender or an errant street hockey pass, car dent repair technology and methods have become advanced enough to turn an unsightly dent into an afterthought. Whether you opt for a dent repair specialist or require the experience of an auto body shop, here’s what you need to know about car dent repair.
Depending on the dent’s severity, a repair can span a wide range of prices. While you might be tempted to go the DIY route and simply buy a dent removal kit, we don’t recommend that. It’s best to go with a professional. The size, depth, and location of the dent will determine whether you should have a dent repair specialist or an auto body shop fix the dent.
Mobile dent repair is one of the most effective and convenient ways to fix dents in your vehicle. Rather than driving your vehicle to the auto body shop, these companies come to you. The advantages of this are numerous:
These companies also bring the same tools found in an auto body shop. As a result, you can expect the same high-quality dent repair you’d get at auto body shops. Their services generally start at around $100. You can use this online paintless dent repair (PDR) calculation to get an idea of what your dent repair will cost.
Repair kits and dent pullers are no match for larger dents, so if you have a severely dented bumper, fender, or car door (particularly when it goes through the paint), you’ll want to head to the auto body shop. These repair shops have specialized dent removal tools and paintless dent repair tools.
While taking your vehicle to the car shop will inevitably cost more, you can feel confident that the dent will be fixed by a professional. In most cases, minor dent repair will cost about $75 to $150. But the larger and more severe the dent is, the greater the cost will rise.
Keep in mind that not all dents can be removed via paintless dent repair. If your dent requires painting, that’ll be an additional cost. The dent might also be on a body line or in an area that a dent specialist wouldn't be able to reach with conventional tools. The body shop will usually remove the panel (e.g., door, hood, trunk, etc.) in order to complete the repair and they’ll also do some repainting if necessary. As such, you can realistically expect to spend $500 to $1,000 for quality auto body repair.
The location of the dent directly impacts the price you'll pay for car dent repair. Body line dents or places where the sheet metal curves are far harder to repair, thus costing you more than dents on flat areas such as a car door or the hood. If the dent is in a precarious place, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars more.
If you're wondering about where to get quality car dent repair, the internet is your greatest ally. By typing in "car dent repair" and your geographic location into a search engine, you'll find a list of auto body repair businesses in your area. Once you have this information, read reviews about the quality of the work and customer service. If you're satisfied with a company's reviews, always call to get an estimate or take your car in for an estimate. Like other types of bodywork and automotive repairs, shopping around can save you hundreds of dollars.
So when should you take your car to a professional for car dent repair? The answer isn't always straightforward. The best way to make this decision is to see if the size of the dent is outside the recommendations listed on repair kits and dent pullers. Furthermore, dents from hail damage are usually outside of the expertise of the DIY individual. If you're in doubt, always opt for a reputable auto body repair company.
If you notice any paint cracking, chipping, bubbling, or peeling, paintless dent repair isn't an option. As such, you probably won't be able to fix the issue yourself. Matching the paint on a vehicle is no easy task, and without a professional, the paint you buy from an automotive parts store probably won't match.
If your dent has damaged paint and is in a prominent area of your vehicle, going to the auto body is the best move you can make. They'll pull the dent out, add body filler to make a smooth surface, and paint the afflicted area to match your original vehicle paint. That said, you'll probably pay $1,000 to $3,000 or more depending on the severity of the dent and how much of the vehicle needs to be painted. The upside is that when you get your vehicle back, no one will notice that a dent was ever present.
It’s rare that a dent will be 100% inoperable but these situations happen, especially in more severe collisions. If you’ve bought a salvage vehicle, you may also find that some dents can’t be fixed by you or a technician. When this happens, most auto body dent shops will suggest that you order a new piece rather than opt for dent repair.
Smaller dents almost always can be repaired. The only difference is paintless dent repair versus painted dent repair. If you don't notice any paint chipping or bubbling, paintless dent repair is a possibility that can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. As mentioned, painted dent repair will cost more, so make sure to weigh the costs of replacement parts before you opt for dent repair.
At Clutch, each of our vehicles goes through a 210-point inspection to ensure the car's mechanical integrity and overall condition. Newly acquired inventory with dings or dents from their previous owner undergo dent repair. For dents that are too small to repair, we'll disclose this information to you before you buy and it will be noted in our 210-point inspection and 360-degree photos.
With that peace of mind, you won't have to stress about dents ruining the look of your car. So rather than take a chance on a dented vehicle with a private seller, make a clutch decision — buying a quality used vehicle without any noticeable body damage that runs like a dream. That's something that's sure to prevent a dent in your confidence.