Hacks to Fix Car Paint and Dents

A little girl scratches a car.

Life happens, which means dents, dings, and scratches happen. When your vehicle takes a hit, there are some DIY remedies you can try before taking your car to an expert. Professionals are professionals for a reason, meaning that your home job might not have the same final outcome as the one you pay for at a body shop. But it’s worth the effort to fix what you can, and it might be good enough to meet your standards. Here are some things you can try to remove scratches and dents.

Car Dents

A car with a small dent in the back.

Major car dents should always be looked at by a professional, but minor ones can actually be fixed with a few simple home remedies.

Suck Them Out

Dents suck. So suck back — with a plunger that is. Start by heating several cups of water on the stove. Using a hot pad to handle the pan, pour the hot water over the dented area of the car. Be sure to thoroughly cover the entire area to soften the surface. Then press a basic toilet plunger into the dent, encouraging good suction, and pop it back out. This technique works well for dents that are not crinkled along the edges but are more pressed in, like when someone leans against the car and it pushes in.

Push Them Out

Dents that cannot be removed with a toilet plunger may be repaired by pushing them out instead. Begin this process by pouring hot water across the dented area. Again, make sure it is well covered. Working from underneath the car, use an appropriately-shaped tool to press the dent outward. This could be the end of a bat, mallet, or a screwdriver head. Use caution not to push too hard, which could cause an unwanted dent on the opposite side. Wrap the end of your tool in a towel or cloth for a softer, more rounded touch.

Air Them Out

Another technique for panel dents is to heat the area with a hairdryer. Use the hottest setting and allow it to thoroughly heat the entire area. Immediately after heating the area, spray it with compressed air (yes, the stuff you clean your computer keyboard with). The instant change in temperature will cause the material to contract and often results in the dent popping out.

Car Scratches

A blue car with scratches on it.

Before you try any technique to remove scratches from your car, be sure to clean the area well. You don’t want to drag a rough piece of debris around while rubbing, which may cause more scratch damage.


After cleaning the surface, allow the area to dry. Then apply toothpaste to the scratched area using a microfiber towel. Any brand is likely to work, but results may vary depending on the grittiness of the formula. Once you’ve applied the toothpaste, allow it to dry for 5-10 minutes. Once again, use a microfiber towel to buff the toothpaste off.

Car Wax

For smaller scratches, regular car wax will often do the trick. Apply it in a circular motion to rub the wax into the scratch and surrounding area. Then use a clean, dry towel to buff it out.


There seem to be mixed reviews regarding the effectiveness of WD-40 and other oil-based options when it comes to scratch repair. The fact is that, in the short term, WD-40 does a pretty good job of filling in the scratch. Simply clean the area, spray it with a thick layer of WD-40, and buff it with a microfiber cloth. The problem is that WD-40 works as a top layer to add an oily finish so while it looks shiny and new, it basically just masks the scrape rather than repairing it. Your temporary fix might hold for a while, so there is nothing wrong with using this method. Just know that once all of the oil from the product is washed away, your scratches are likely to reappear.

Removing Road Paint

While there may be doubts about the effectiveness of its use during scratch repair, WD-40 is an effective tool for removing road paint that your car picks up while driving. We’re talking about that sticky splatter of yellow or white paint that doesn’t come off when you wash the car. Apply the WD-40, or a layer of petroleum jelly, to the road splatter. Allow the oil to work for 8-12 hours and then rinse well. Repeat as necessary to remove all of the paint and oil.

Keep your vehicle looking sharp with these home hacks and save a few bucks in the process.