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Removing dents from plastic bumpers

The correct amount of heat and pressure are vital to the dent repair process
Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 09:00
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Once you have reached the temperature you feel is needed to reshape the damaged area, it is a simple matter of choosing the right tool to do the manipulating. For larger dents and to fix some minor waves, the palm of a gloved hand works well. For sharper dents, or to recreate body lines, a block of wood or the handle of a utility knife may be the best tool. Popping the dent sometimes requires straight steady pressure; other times firm lateral movement with a tool work the best. How you remove a dent is as complex or as simple as you make it. 

When pushing a dent out, it helps to know where to start. It’s best to start at the outer area of the dent and work your way in towards the deepest part. This will release the pressure evenly, helping the worst part of the dent release easier.

Pushing the dent out Pushing down the high spots Dent after removal, before sanding Final sanding

Of course, some dents are easier to remove than others and some will require very little sanding and no filler before going to paint; others require a bit more work. When it comes to sanding, don’t be afraid to use aggressive sandpaper — like 80 grit or lower — to remove the paint and sand down the high spots.  Save the fine grit paper like 180 and 320 for getting rid of the coarse sand scratches and fuzz that the aggressive sandpaper left behind. Being shy with the sand paper will make removing high and low spots difficult. Once contoured and sanded with fine grit sandpaper, you can use a butane torch to get rid of the last little bit of fuzz. When using a torch to remove fuzz off raw plastic, keep it moving quickly while being careful to not overheat the bumper.

If you keep these few things in mind while removing a dent in a plastic bumper, you should be able to make a high-quality repair quickly, without causing additional damage to the bumper. Be aware of the thickness of the plastic before you begin and take that into account when heating the dented area.  Make sure you heat all around the dent, relieving all the stress to the entire area and not just to the dent.  Remember to start removing a dent from the outside edges working toward the center and don’t be afraid to use aggressive sand paper. Getting rid of pesky sand scratches and fuzz is a small price to pay to be able to get the job done quickly.

Don’t be afraid to try different tools and techniques; be creative. The worst that can happen is that the customer will need a new bumper cover, which is what they would need if you didn’t make the attempt. You will find that most dents can be repaired and repairing bumpers will make the shop more money than replacing a bumper. Repairing dents will keep the repair dollars in house, rather than giving those dollars to an OEM for a new cover. The best way to learn is to not be intimidated by the process and get out and try it. In no time, you will be an expert with the ability to generate more money for the shop.

Flame treating to remove fuzz Dent removed, ready for refinishing


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