Disclosure: Ridester.com is supported by our users. We may recieve compensation from the companies whose products we write about, test, or review. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own. Please refer to our Affiliate Disclosure for more information.
No matter how hard you try to protect your car, accidents can always happen to both moving and stationary vehicles. Cars are prone to dents caused by anything from fender benders to hail damage and even the occasional shopping cart hit. In some cases, you may have door ding just from your parking lot neighbor opening their car door too fast. Understanding your car dent repair options will help you save money and continue earning in your driving gig.
Rideshare companies are known to be strict about cosmetic damages. Even one noticeable dent can be against Uber and Lyft vehicle requirements, which means you’ll need to get it fixed as soon as possible. First, you need to know how to choose a car dent repair method that won’t put hundreds of dollars to waste.
This article will guide you through two types of professional dent repair services, as well as four DIY options you can try at home.
Professional Car Dent Repair Methods
It’s never fun to get your vehicle damaged by natural causes or Lyft or Uber driving accidents, but luckily, there are professionals in just about any city ready to help. Below are the two professional repair services that you can seek out in your area.
Paintless Dent Repair
Paintless dent repair (PDR) is typically the preferred method for car dent repairs, as it requires no sanding, painting, or Bondo auto body fillers to complete. Instead, professionals will use specialty tools to manipulate your car’s body with steady pressure until it’s once again like new. Because this method is fairly gentle on your car, it maintains your original factory finish for a fraction of the cost of a traditional repair.
The final cost of a paintless dent removal will usually depend on the extent of the damage, as well as the size and location of the dent. Average costs range from $75 to $350, though extensive hail damage repair (often covered by insurance) can take that price up to $1,000 or more. Still, PDR is a much faster process that leaves a high-quality finish.
The biggest downside to PDR is that it’s only a viable option for small dents and some medium-sized dents that didn’t cause any paint damage.
Traditional Dent Repair
If your vehicle experienced more severe damage — including deep, creased, or generally large dents — you’ll likely need to seek a traditional car dent repair service from your local auto body shop.
Traditional dent repairs often take several days, as the complete process requires a relatively large amount of steps. As an overview, professionals will start by sanding down the area of the dent, which removes the paint, then reshape and fill in any gaps with Bondo putty. They’ll end the process by repainting the area.
It’s not uncommon for an average traditional dent repair to start at $600 and exceed $2,000. Plus, because the repair is more likely to be reported and, therefore, show up in your vehicle history, it may end up decreasing the value of your car by the time you want to sell it or trade it in. Still, traditional dent repair is, in severe cases, the only option you have to use.
4 DIY Car Dent Repair Methods
If you want to avoid the cost of a professional service altogether, you can consider giving car dent repair a try right from home. Below are four DIY solutions that can help you out with some small, medium-sized, and shallow dents.
1. Use a Paintless Dent Repair Kit
PDR kits like the GLISTON 45-piece Dent Puller Kit are available throughout Amazon and at plenty of auto parts stores nowadays. While each of these kits provide their own instructions, they all provide a large set of tools that help car owners manipulate sheet metal without damaging the factory finish.
Most effective kits cost a minimum of $40 to $50, which doesn’t offer the biggest savings for smaller dings, but it is one of the more effective DIY methods available.
2. Use a Plunger
As strange as it may sound, you may be able to get a dent out of your car just by using a basic cup plunger and some hot water. All you need to do to start is pour hot water over your plunger and dent. Then, gently use your plunger on the dent — just as you would on your sink — to see if it will release. If it doesn’t work after a few tries, you’ll want to go for a different method to avoid damage due to excessive force.
This method is most effective for flatter surfaces like your car doors and side panels, though it’s worth a shot anywhere you have a dent.
3. Use Dry Ice
Another odd DIY car dent repair method you can use is rubbing dry ice over the affected area. Simply grab a pair of protective gloves to handle the dry ice, then gently apply it right on the dent, starting with the center. If it’s effective, your metal will quickly begin to contract and pop out on its own.
This method is most effective for dents that cover a smaller surface area. You may need to apply the dry ice a few times to fully repair the dent. However, be aware that this may not be the most permanent solution, as car owners have reportedly had their dents reappear after using dry ice for a fix.
4. Use Boiling Water
If you have a car dent on a plastic bumper, this simple method may be the best for you. Plastic bumper repair can be as simple as pouring boiling water over the affected area, then reaching under the bumper and manually pushing it out.
This method may not leave the smoothest surface, but it’s highly effective in making your plastic pliable. Plus, it’s pretty much free, allowing you to start accepting trips again after a quick stop home.
Frequently Asked Questions
As you’re deciding the best path to take for your car dent repair, take a look at these commonly asked questions to learn more about your options:
1. Are there any cases where a complete car part replacement will be needed?
If a dent is on the edge of a car panel or if it has caused interior damage, even the experts may not be able to fix your vehicle. Damaged aluminum parts are also more likely to require replacement, since steel can be more easily repaired. Regardless, the first step when dealing with more severe dents is reaching out to a professional, who will always let you know if immediate dent repair is possible.
2. Will my car insurance or rideshare insurance cover the cost of a car dent repair?
Minor dents usually aren’t covered by car insurance or rideshare insurance — and even if they were, it likely isn’t worth the rate hike or the permanent record in your vehicle history. Otherwise, most comprehensive and collision car insurances will cover more extensive damage and hail damage, though for damage caused by you or an unknown source, you should consider if paintless dent removal is possible to avoid a rate hike.
The coverage that your rideshare insurance provides, on the other hand, will usually depend on the type you choose. Some plans extend your personal car insurance to the time you’re logged on with Lyft or Uber, while others are purely liability insurance plans that only cover damages when you’re at fault.
3. Will paintless dent repairs ever damage my car’s paint job?
While it’s possible, professionals are unlikely to ever damage your paint job. If they do, they’ll more than likely cover the cost of your scratch repair.
Of course, we recommend doing your research to ensure you’re getting services from a reputable professional to ensure you still have your factory finish.
Get Your Car Back in Shape
When you’re driving for a rideshare company, the look of your car can make or break your ratings and your eligibility to drive at all. Understanding your car dent repair options will help you make your vehicle like new once again. With some DIY methods, you may end up paying nothing at all.
While avoiding accidents isn’t always possible, prevention is always smart. When your car is parked at home, you can protect it with one of the best car covers on the market — one of which can even protect your car from hail outdoors.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.