Some car dents are so large that they require specialized equipment and knowledge to repair, but others can be popped out with some basic tools that many people have around their homes. The two main ways of repairing car dents at home are to use a plunger or the hammer and dolly technique. Using a plunger can be as simple as applying it to the dented surface, ensuring a good vacuum seal, and then pulling it out. Repairing car dents with a hammer and dolly can be a little more complicated and requires access to the damaged panel from the back side. This process involves placing a dolly, or a piece of wood, against the dented surface and tapping it gently with a hammer.
The process of repairing car dents is relatively simple in theory, though it can become quite complicated in practice. A general concept behind a lot of body repair involves the application of a force that is equal and opposite to that which did the original damage. Since the body panels of most vehicles tend to have a memory, the application of this force will usually pop them back into the original shape. Damage that is complex or extensive may require different techniques, and if the paint was damaged, it will require separate work.
One of the simplest ways of repairing car dents at home is with a plunger. A regular toilet plunger can be used in many cases, though specialized suction cup dent pullers are also available. The first step in this process is to clean the area around the dent, after which the plunger can be applied. Then the plunger can be slowly depressed, with care taken not to push the dent in any further. Many dents will pop out if the plunger is pulled away from the vehicle with a great deal of force.
In other cases, a hammer and dolly may be used to pound the dent out. This method of repairing car dents can require some finesse and practice to do correctly, so it is important to be careful not to make the damage worse. To pound the dent out, the back side of the damaged panel must be reached by removing any paneling or insulation that might be covering it. The dolly can be placed against the back side of the dent and carefully tapped with the hammer. In some cases a block of wood may be substituted, though a curved dolly can result in a better looking repair.