learning about auto repair expenses

Does The Dry Ice Trick Really Work For Removing Dents?

Dealing with dents can get a bit pricey – the average cost of removing a one-inch dent is around $60 to $110, according to Autos.com. So it's no wonder that you might be tempted to try your hand at removing dents yourself. One commonly touted method involves using dry ice to "pop" your car's dented sheet metal back into place. But you have to ask yourself whether this actually works or if you're just wasting your time on a gimmick.

The Theory Behind the Dry Ice Trick

The idea behind getting rid of dents with dry ice is a seemingly simple one. Metal expands as it's heated and contracts when it cools. In theory, heating up the dent and allowing it to cool down essentially "shocks" the metal into shrinking back to its original, dent-free state.

To accomplish this, you have to heat up the area around the dent with a heat gun or hair dryer until it becomes hot to the touch. Afterwards, you apply a chunk of dry ice directly onto the surface and wait a few minutes. As the idea goes, the shock of the accelerated cooling caused by the dry ice should pop the metal back into place and leave your car's surface free of any dents.

Why It Doesn't Work

While it's true that metal expands and contracts with heat and cold, it's not enough to help spring the metal back into shape. Otherwise, you'd see the top body shops using the dry ice trick to deal with dents. The process of shrinking and contracting the metal using heat and cold doesn't work on deep dents caused by hailstones and other small objects, and it rarely works on larger, shallower dents. That means if you have a deep divot on your car's bodywork, then you may have to have an expert deal with it instead.

The Recon Master School of Dents has another theory on why the dry ice trick doesn't work. According to the paintless dent repair (PDR) training school, it has plenty to do with the composition of the metal used to build modern vehicles. Unlike vehicles made back in the 1980s and before, the sheet metal used on modern vehicles is thinner than before. This makes it more difficult for body repair experts to use traditional dent removal techniques. This also makes it harder to successfully use the dry ice trick to pop dents back into shape.

The experts at RMSD also warn that applying dry ice directly onto the body could damage the paint finish. Instead, the experts recommend using the refrigerant from an ordinary can of compressed air. The trick is to hold the can upside down as you spray the contents on the dent.

Let the Pros Take Care of Your Dents

You might not see much, if any, success with the dry ice trick in the end. In fact, removing dents on your own can easily turn into a frustrating and time-consuming affair, especially if your car has a lot of dents in hard-to-reach areas. At this point, you might want to consider having a trained auto body repair specialist take care of the problem.

It might be a bit expensive versus dealing with dents on your own, but one of the great advantages to a professional repair is that you'll have peace of mind about the work. The vast majority of body shops guarantee their work and you can expect the job to be done right the first time. Many shops also use advanced techniques to remove dents without marring the paint finish or leaving behind other types of damage.

Popping out your own dents with dry ice seems like a quick way to save a buck on auto body repairs, but it's nowhere near as effective as it's made out to be. FOr the best results, have a local auto body shop take care of the repairs on your car.