If you own a car or truck that has been in a major collision, then you may feel relieved when you realize that major repairs do not need to be completed on the transmission, engine, cooling, or exhaust system. However, this feeling of relief may just turn to dread when you hear the estimated cost to fix the cosmetic damage along the body of the vehicle. Dent repair can cost upwards of $150 for just a two-inch dent. This can really add up if you have several large dents along the car body. Instead of paying a professional, consider removing the dents yourself in a careful and precise manner with the help of a stud welding gun. Before you begin, learn some important tips.
Sand the Dent Thoroughly
A stud welding machine allows you to adhere draw pins to the metal body of your vehicle so a device called a slide hammer can be used to place pressure on the pins. This pressure forces the dent outward. Stud welding uses an arc weld to join the stud to the base metal of the car body. Basically, a stud is placed into the tip of the stud welding machine and the stud is set against the car body. The trigger on the gun is pulled and an electric arc is formed between the metal of the car body and the stud. This heats the metal parts and allows the flat stud end to melt and stick into place. This entire process requires the flow of electrical current between the car body and the stud. This means that all paint must be removed from the dent for the weld to hold properly.
To remove the paint from the vehicle body, you will need to use either a sander or a grinding tool. A grinder will remove the paint quicker than an electric sander or a sanding block. However, you will need to make sure that you do not opt for an aggressive grinding disc. The metal that makes up the car body is actually quite thin. You can easily weaken the metal and warp it as well with too much grinding. To avoid this, opt for a medium grit hook and loop grinding disc. This disc looks much like the brillo pad or loose scrub tool you use to wash dishes. When you have the right disc, make sure to move your grinder continuously when removing automotive paint. This helps to keep you from grinding too much in one area, and it also reduces heat that can weaken the metal.
When there is a small amount of paint left behind in the crevices of the dent, switch to an 80 grit sanding block to remove the rest. Smooth out the paint-free metal with a piece of 400 fine grit sandpaper. Afterwards, use a degreasing agent like trisodium phosphate to clean the body of the vehicle so the studs can weld cleanly to the metal.
Secure Enough Studs
Stud welding will help to force the steel car body back into place. This works because the steel has a memory of its previous shape, and the molecules within the metal will want to pop back to their original formation. However, you can warp the shape a small amount by exerting too much pressure on the metal. This can happen if you do not place enough metal studs along the car body. This means that you will need to pull on the studs harder to force up the steel several inches around each stud. This will result in elevation where the stud is secured.
To prevent an uneven surface, place your studs in a horizontal line across the center of the dent. Make sure each stud is placed about one-quarter inch from one another. Move about one-quarter to one-half inch above and below the positioned studs and place two more horizontal rows. Keep doing this until you reach the top and bottom of the dent. Afterwards, use your slide hammer tool to place slight pressure on each stud. You will see the dent slowly releasing when this happens.
If for some reason this process seems too daunting, then speak with a local contractor or professional who is experienced in the use of stud welding systems for assistance.