Body Work 101: How to Handle that Annoying Ding, Dent, Scrape or Scratch

picWhether it is a scrape on the bumper or a long scratch across your shiny paint job, flaws and dents can be annoying and expensive to repair. Hard to ignore, metal dents and other scuffs stand out and detract from the style and quality of your vehicle’s appearance. Many drivers have dings and nicks they try to hide and wish they could fix. Others ride around in need of serious repair. No matter what category you and your car fall under, the proper know-how can help you fix minor imperfections on your own and better determine how to deal with larger repairs.

What to Do with that Dent

When it comes to dealing with dents, Popular Mechanics points out that given the expense to have a minor dent professionally repaired, investing in the right tools to fix it yourself might not be such a bad idea. In fact, with a body hammer and dolly you can bump out most dents. You will need a set of body hammers in various shapes. Akin to a “mini anvil,” dollies are placed on the other side of the metal to restore the shape as the hammer works on the inside. In addition, you will likely need to purchase a sander to rough up the paint as well as putty and a file to level almost hardened filler. With these materials and a little instruction, you are well on your way to fixing that frustrating dent.

Second Skin for Cars

You’ve heard of the band-aid alternative for people, but when it comes to cars the term second skin means separating the door and attaching a new metal exterior to the existing interior, sometimes referred to as a door “carcass.” The process of re-skinning is fairly complex. Depending on the make and year of your vehicle, it may prove simpler to purchase an aftermarket door of the same model and match the paint color. But for devoted mechanics and classic cars, re-skinning can be a good option.

Paint Problems

No matter how minor, paint scratches can turn into “expensive eyesores,” writes Popular Mechanics. When diagnosing a mark in your paint, it is important to note that the body of your auto has four layers:





Depending on the depth of the scratch, your approach to remedying it will differ.

A scuff through the clearcoat can easily with sanded out. But a clean scratch through it or beyond will need to be recoated with spray. When repairing a scratch, you should start by washing the area with soap and water and then drying it completely. Sand around the damaged surface. Then it is time to polish the scratches out with compound and a polishing wheel. Finally, buff out the area with a cloth, and apply car wax as the final layer.


Although some forms of damage will require you to get collision repair, there are a surprising number of common dings and dents that you can easily remedy on your own. With the right materials and approach, you can fix that scrape or scratch before it drives you totally insane.

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