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Summary
  • You can pull dents out of your fender by using a suction cup. Just position the cup over the dent, push the tool as far down as it will go, and then pull it straight out.
  • If your car fender is made from thermoplastic, you can try pouring boiling water over the dent to soften the plastic before gently pushing the dent out.
  • Hot air can cause the fender to expand in size, so you can also use a hairdryer or heat gun to fix the dent.

Fender benders are almost inevitable with today’s maze-like roads and tight traffic conditions. Someone or something can clip your ride’s fender and leave a dent in it. While a ding or two on the body panel is no issue, large dents or several smaller pits will ruin your fender’s smooth contours. 

You can bring your ride to a collision repair shop, but the job may take a lot of time and money, depending on the damage. This can be a problem, especially if you currently don’t have room in your budget for a replacement fender.

Fortunately, some dents can be repaired without replacing the body panel or leaving your vehicle at a collision repair shop. You don’t even need specialized tools or extensive training in auto repair to do them. Read on to learn how to pull a dent out of a car fender.

Pulling Dents Out of the Fender With a Suction Cup

You’ve probably read articles or seen videos where DIYers use a sink plunger to pull dents out of a body panel. Then, they use the suction cup on a smartphone windshield mount to fix smaller cavities. You can use their methods to pull out dents on your fender.

Start by cleaning your car fender to improve the suction cup’s grip. Position the cup over the dent,  push the tool as far down as it will go, then pull it straight out. The motion should yank the dent out. For best results, use a brand new suction cup with an easy-to-grip pulling handle.

This method works well on shallow concave dents. Deeper cavities or those with creases are much harder to restore with a mere suction cup.

The suction cup approach works best in older vehicle models with metal body panels made mainly from steel. Not only is steel tough, but it’s also quite pliable, so you can return a steel part that’s been bent out of shape to its original form.

Some newer vehicle models reduced the amount of steel in their body panels, using composites like carbon fiber and fiberglass instead. These tough materials weigh much less than steel and are better at absorbing the force of an impact. However, composites are nowhere as pliable as steel.

A Note on the Suction Cup Approach

The caveat is that some dents can’t be fixed by using a suction cup. Hailstone or rock dents, for example, usually require different methods. If a dent is on a rounded corner or very close to the edge of the metal, simply pulling the dent out may not work.

Body shops have special tools for working dents out and typically apply body filler which is sanded down and painted to return the fender to its original appearance.

, How to Pull a Dent Out of a Car Fender: Quick & Easy Fixes

Pro Tips are nuggets of information direct from ASE-certified automobile technicians working with CarParts.com, which may include unique, personal insights based on their years of experience working in the automotive industry. These can help you make more informed decisions about your car.

Pro Tip: In the early days of repairing dents, skilled body men would use melted lead “babbit” (which was purchased in ingot form) to fill fender dents. The same material was used to create rod and main bearings. Paint was applied with a brush in the early days and polished smooth with compound.

car dent removal with suction cup
The suction cup approach works best in older vehicle models with metal body panels made mainly from steel.

Using Boiling Water on Thermoplastic Fenders for Dent Removal

Car fenders made from sturdy thermoplastics soften at high temperatures and harden when they cool down. If yours are made from the same material, you can take advantage of their heat-related properties to repair dents in the body panel.

Pour boiling water over the dent and its immediate surroundings to soften the plastic. Once the heated material has become malleable, reach behind the fender and gently but firmly push the dent out. Let the body panel cool down and harden.

This approach will repair both shallow and deep dents, but it isn’t a complete fix. Moreover, you can only heat thermoplastics so many times before they permanently deform or discolor. You’re better off buying a replacement car fender at that point.

Using Hot Air and Compressed Air for Dent Repair

Instead of boiling water, you can use hot air and cold air to remove dents from the fender. You won’t have to touch the body panel, so there’s no risk of getting burned by the heated surface.

For this approach, you’ll need a hairdryer or a heat gun to heat the body panel and a source of compressed air for cooling purposes. Start by applying hot air to the dented area. As the fender gets hotter, it will expand in size and the dent will adjust accordingly.

Next, spray compressed air on the heated fender to cool down and shrink the body panel. The dents will contract alongside the fender.

The air-based approach will remove shallow dents from thermoplastic fenders. It may also work on metal panels, but it’ll take more time because metals have higher tolerances for heat.

Don’t be surprised if the dents reappear and disappear as the weather changes. Fenders typically expand due to hot weather, which can undo the air-based dent removal job.

DIY Pulling Handles With Hot Glue and Wooden Dowels

A professional paintless dent removal kit uses a specialized pulling tool with adhesive tabs that stick to the dented surface. If you don’t have time to order a dent removal kit, you can replicate its pulling tool with hot glue and wooden dowels.

Apply hot glue on the parts of the dent that you plan to pull on. Press a dowel into each spot and let the glue cool and set. Once the dowels are firmly attached to the fender, pull them to tug the dented part in the right direction. Avoid pulling on the dowel at an angle. Doing so will dislodge the makeshift pulling handle from the glue, forcing you to restart the process.

Once you’ve finished repairing the dent, pull on the dowel from an angle to remove it. Heat the glue with a hairdryer and remove the softened adhesive.

This approach will take far more time than the others, so you must be patient. On the upside, it’s moderately effective at dent removal.

Other Considerations on When Pulling a Dent Out of a Fender

Always start the session by inspecting your damaged fender and determining just how bad the dents are. Is it shallow or deep? Is the surface smooth or jagged? Is the paint layer still intact or will the fender need repainting after you remove the dents?

It also helps to know what your fender is made of. Some DIY dent removal techniques work best with certain materials. For example, the air-based approach is less effective on metal fenders than on plastic fenders because metal has higher heat tolerances. Knowing what method to use with a particular material will save you time and effort.

If all else fails, you can opt to install a replacement fender to get your vehicle back to looking brand new.

Watch this video to get an idea of how to replace your front fender:

Where to Get New Fenders for Your Vehicle

You might think a dented fender is no big deal, but you’d be surprised by how it can affect your vehicle. Dented fenders can throw off your vehicle’s alignment and steering. They also reduce the value of your car, making it harder to sell. If trying to pull out the dents doesn’t work, consider replacing the fenders instead. Luckily, getting brand new fenders is fast and easy with CarParts.com.

CarParts.com offers a wide selection of fenders that are sourced from only the most trusted manufacturers in the industry. Enjoy a hassle-free experience with the help of our built-in vehicle selector, so you can browse through products that are guaranteed to fit your vehicle. CarParts.com is also committed to providing you with the best service, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any help. Our round-the-clock support team is more than happy to assist you.

Don’t wait until your dented fenders negatively affect your vehicle’s alignment before replacing them. Check out our catalog of high-quality fenders at CarParts.com and order one today!

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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