Chevy Volt Dent Repair

by Ben N on January 3, 2020

After installing the new doors on the Volt, it was road-worthy, but I still didn’t like the dent in the back fender. There were a few dings above the rear door as well. So, I set to work to figure out how to pull out the dents.

I had already played around a bit with an industrial grade suction cup (https://amzn.to/2QqkpzT) and was able to slightly reduce the fender dent.

Next, I headed to Harbor Freight Tools and bought a Paintless Dent Removal Kit. It’s basically a hot glue gun and a crossbar. Threaded inserts get glued to the car body. By threading a knob on the other end through the bar, the metal gets pulled up, removing the dent.

Harbor Freight dent puller kit.

Of course, it helps if you are the artistic type for the finished look, or the engineering type, so you know the order, direction, and distance to pull. I really had neither, and this was my first time doing this. I was working outside and the ambient temperature was about freezing. After a few times of snapping the glue right off, I made space to bring the car inside to warm up.

Overall, these tools work as they are supposed to, but so much of it depends on the exact nature of the dent. The Harbor Freight tool was limited in that it only had two of the puller tabs – one round, and one football-shaped. There was also only a very small bottle of glue release agent. Right on the bottle it listed the only ingredient as acetone, so I grabbed a full size can of acetone next time I was at the hardware store. I also think that it would be easier to pull the dents with more of the pull tabs, and a larger variety of sizes and shapes. If I did it again, I’d buy a more complete set of parts for a Paintless Dent Removal, something along the lines of this one: https://amzn.to/2MUnuWG

I repeated the pulls a number of times, and sure enough, I was able to get metal to move and reduce the denting. Above the door frame, the golf-ball-sized ding actually cut all the way through the paint. When I went to pull the dent, the hot-glue puller actually took the paint right off. When I tried again, I found that the glue does NOT stick to the primer or undercoat.



On any parts of the smaller dents that were pulled up too high, I was able to flatten them back down with the included blunt plastic device designed for the job, or even just my rubber mallet.

As much as I pulled, I couldn’t get the fender dent out. There was just too much of a crease right at the door frame. To make any more progress, I would have to pound out the dent from behind. That meant removing the interior trim from the back of the car. I had one of those plastic trim removal kits, (https://amzn.to/2sMhJDp) which made it easy to pop a few of the connectors holding the interior in place, but I had to remove a number of other pieces of the interior to be able to pull the rear corner panel.

Hard to get to the fender exterior with all this in the way!

Once I had, I could see very limited access to the sheet metal from inside the car. (Last time I tried such a thing, it was on a 1996 Geo Metro. I just punched the metal from the inside and the dent popped right out!)
There was a hole about an inch square. I pushed a 2-foot-long socket extension through and was able to push and pound on the back side of it. Unfortunately, I had to do this left-handed (my bad wrist, too!) and the tool was too long for me to pound and see the results at the same time.

I looked around for something else and settled on using the handle from my car jack. That let me work in closer. I was able to bang out some more of the dent from the inside. I also managed to crack the paint right there. I was so focused on just where I was pounding, that I forgot to occasionally hit the paint with a heat gun to keep it warm and malleable. That was right by the crease, and there was a crack in the paint very close by anyways.

By about that time, I was done for the day. The dent was certainly better, but by no means an A-1 repair. I’m sure that with a little Bondo and paint, it would probably look pretty good.

Pounded out from the inside.

The next day, I took the car out in the sunlight. The dents are very subjective. A big part of it is just the lighting – the angle of the sun and the direction of the light versus the dents. From some angles, it doesn’t look to bad at all. From others, there’s a very noticeable small crease right behind the door.


I’ll probably attempt a little sanding/filling/painting and making this look as best I can. Still, it’s pretty nice looking for a $2800 car!

Until next time, stay charged up!
-Ben Nelson

More about this project in the previous posts: https://300mpg.org/2019/12/28/fixing-a-crashed-chevy-volt/

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