Tuesday, February 1, 2011 06:27
We love our cars, but there are people out there who don’t feel the same way. You’ll really wish you knew who they were the day you come out of a store and find a small round ding in your door, and see half your next paycheck flying off to the local body shop. But minor dents like these won’t necessarily require a trip to a body shop to fix. There’s one method that’s not only cheap, it’s cool––really cool, about minus-109 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hot and Cold Repair
You’ll need two things for this job, one hot, and one cold. The hot thing can be a hot day on which you car has been sitting in the sun for a while, or a hair dryer, whichever is handy.
The cold thing? Frozen carbon dioxide (CO2), also known as dry ice. You can buy this at supermarkets in blocks, or you can get liquid CO2 in a can. If you go the solid dry ice route, be absolutely sure to wear thick gloves when you handle it. This stuff is seriously cold––severe-frostbite, your-fingers-will-fall-off cold.
First thing to do is warm up the dent and the area around it. If the weather doesn’t do it for you, use the hair dryer. Don’t hold the hair dryer so close to the dent that you blister the paint. You’re after moderate, even heating, not molten metal.
Next take your cold stuff of choice and apply it to the still-warm dent. Place the block of dry ice on the dent and swirl it around. You won’t hurt the paint, because as dry ice evaporates it turn to gas, not liquid, and the layer of gas between the block and the body panel will protect the paint from abrasion.
Here’s where all that stuff you slept through in science class starts working for you. When the heated metal comes in contact with the cold dry ice, the metal contracts and the dent flattens out. Keep running the block of dry ice over the dent until it’s flat.
If you’re using canned CO2, spray the dent and the area around it until a thin crust of ice forms. Then just wait for it to evaporate naturally. When it does, you should see a flattened dent. How cool is that?