rav 4 dent repair blog post

How complex dents are removed: Paintless dent removal on large and complicated damage

I had the opportunity to remove a large parking lot dent from the quarter panel of a Toyota Rav 4. Dents like these happen often and are usually the result of low speed collisions. These happen in places like parking lots, driveways, and along roadside parking. When vehicles get hit on a rounded or curved area of a panel, a large caved-in dent is typically the result. With today’s thinner sheet metal and vehicle design, it doesn’t take much force to get a big dent in your car!

At first glance, removing this damage might look pretty straight forward. At certain angles, it looks like a clean soft dent. I often have people ask if dents like these can be removed with a suction cup or sometimes “a plunger and hot water”. I certainly would love it if that would do the trick but they will not. To restore the complete shape of the panel on a complex dent, a few factors need to be looked at.

rav 4 large dent features

The problem is that many larger dents on today’s cars are complicated. They have creases, trapped pressure, displacement and edge damage. All of which need to be addressed in their own way to gradually bring the mass of the dent out.

Paintless Dent Removal Tools Used:

  • Special PDR rods with different shaped tips to apply pressure to the inside of the dent
  • Tapping or “knock down” tools on to be used on the outside of the panel
  • Adhesive or “glue pulling” system

Now Let’s Get Back To The Plunger

I can assure you that while a glue pulling system was used for this dent removal, no toilet plungers, suction cups, hot water or dry ice was used. Glue pulling systems have become a popular DIY theme on YouTube videos and many at home kits are available online. They are an effective tool in the hands of an experienced paintless dent repair technician but could spell trouble if used the wrong way.

For this dent, I slowly relieved the trapped pressure by strategically placing glue tabs in specific areas and carefully pulling them out. It might seem like a good idea to stick something to the center point of impact of this dent and ‘giv’r a yank!’ but that would likely have trapped the metal into the edges. It would have been very difficult to get a clean finish afterwards.

After the bulk of the dent is mostly relieved, the creased areas, factory body line and edge damage need to be carefully massaged out while tapping down the displacement or high crowns at the edges of the dent concurrently.

So The Dent Won’t Just “Pop” Out?

The likelihood of a large or small car dent popping out completely is very low. Many viral videos show quick releases or “pops” on dents but are usually clever with their camera angles to avoid showing leftover imperfections. While in some cases, a successful “pop” can happen, there are usually unsightly waves, highs and lows left over that need accurate pushing and tapping to be corrected.

Here’s The Before And After Video For This Dent

This video is not a step-by-step or “how-to” video. Rather it is just a before and after showcase of a complex dent repair.



This before and after paintless dent removal video was filmed in London, Ontario, Canada. Despite some of the difficult characteristics of the damage, we were able to remove the dent with a smooth high-quality finish. The customer was able to save over half the cost compared to having the dent repaired and refinished at an automotive body shop. For paintless dent repair services in London ON and surrounding areas, feel free to contact us for a free estimate or a repair appointment.