How To Remove Dents from Your Classic Mustang

DentRemoval 011_0001If your going to do your own Mustang body work or just want to know the procedures an experienced body shop my use when they remove dents from your Mustang, AverageJoe will explain the concepts and demonstrate how its done.

Anatomy of a Dent

A dent in your body panel my be caused from a baseball, a shopping cart, another car door, you name it. No matter what the dent is caused from it’s the result from some type of impact.


A dent is much like an impact crater. When an impact to the surface occurs it’s clear that it leaves a crater, what’s not so visible is the rebound zone or ripple effect. Imagine a drop of water into a puddle in slow motion; the drop hits the surface, creates an inverted zone (the dent) and then creates a ripple that is typically higher than the overall surface like a wave (the rebound).

The Science of Removing the Dent

Removing the dent would seem pretty easy, take a hammer and pound out the crater; there is a much easier way with better results.

An easy fix for a lazy body man is to layer some Bondo over the dent, not realizing that there is most likely high spots that resulted when the dent was created; let me explain

The dent really wants to return to its original position in most cases and if you can get under or behind the dent and apply a slight amount of pressure you can help it return to its natural conforming position. Remember that rebound zone mentioned earlier; the key to getting the metal to return to its natural position resides with this area.

DSCF0023        DSCF0029

It’s I good idea to identify the troubled areas before you begin, it helps you determine where you need to go next as you work on each area. I mark the lows with “L” and the highs or rebound area I need to tap on with a line through the “H” as shown above.

DentRemoval 011_0001

Place you’re body dolly under the center of the dent, apply a slight amount of pressure and then tap the rebound area; you will actually see the metal (dent) return to its natural position. The result should be a surface that in much better shape and will only require a small amount of body filler and in some cases none at all.


Pulling a Dent

DSCF0031Sometimes you can’t get behind a dent and perform the procedure mentioned earlier, rather than taking the uneducated body man approach and filling in the crater with body filler you should try pulling the dent.

As an example Project Playboy was treated to the lazy uneducated body man procedures by a previous body shop (read Paint Shop Prison). This long crease in the roof top where it transitions down to the quarter panel was uncovered after stripping the 1/4 inch of body filler. Since I can’t get behind the dent to apply some pressure I’ll have to pull the dent out.

MOT-JO1000lgThe concept for removing the dent is the same as mentioned earlier but rather than pushing on the dent you pull on it while taping on the metal around it with a soft rubber hammer.

Before the days of stud welders you would drill a hole in the surface to perform this procedure and most likely use the slide hammer. Stud welders make the procedure much easier and give you precise control, you don’t always have to use the slide hammer.


The photo to the right shows the use of a pair of pliers clamped onto the stud or draw pin rather than using the slide hammer. I like to work a few steps at a time so I only weld on a stud or two at one time.

I begin by working my way toward the middle of the dent, so the first couple of studs are welded somewhere between the center of the dent and the transition and then eventually to the middle; along the way pulling on each stud and tapping the rebound area or solid part of the body.


I had to use the slide hammer for a couple of light pulls once I got to the center of the crease, overall the work I performed is 1000 times better than the work performed; or should I say, that was not performed by the previous shop.

2 thoughts on “How To Remove Dents from Your Classic Mustang

  1. the science of removing a dent was very helpfull. you explained the dent so i understood, and how to “TAP” it out. ive been beating the crap outta my coop. now im ready to tap all the dents out. so thank you for sharing your knowledge !!!
    JIMMY LORRAIN — February 28, 2012 9:04 AM

  2. Thanks for your excellence, it is truly sad that the trades have moved to shop time charts and insurance billing, unfortunately they do not understand there is a need for both and they should recognize the customer and the difference. The right customer is willing to pay. Sincerely

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