About 10 million automobile accidents occur each and every year, and this means that you are likely to find yourself involved in one of these accidents at some point in your life. High-speed accidents and roadside crashes commonly require extensive auto body or collision repairs afterwards to restore your vehicle to its previous condition. If a slight fender bender, parking lot accident, or other low-speed incident occurs though, then you may be left with merely a few dings and dents. If you feel ambitious, you can fill in the dents at home. This means using a filler compound. Many people dread the idea of using an auto body filler, but you can have success with the material as long as you are prepared to use it the right way. Keep reading to find out about some important body filler use tips.
Prepare Your Car Before Use
Body filler is a composite that consists of two different materials mixed together. Specifically, it is a plastic compound that sets or hardens within minutes through an exothermic chemical process. The vast majority of the filler is made out of polyester, talc, and resin, while the hardening compound is made out of methyl ethyl ketone. The filler provides strength to a damaged vehicle once the hardening process is complete. However, body filler will not stick to the steel body of your car unless the dent is properly prepared first. Make sure that you spend time preparing the area before you mix the body filler, or you will end up with cracked and loose compound that needs to be sanded away.
To prepare the dent properly, you need to make sure that the damaged area is sanded down to the metal. All paint and primer should be removed and the metal itself should be textured to allow the filler to stick. Use a sanding disc with a layer of 150 medium grit sandpaper attached across the surface. Sand to remove paint and use a clean cloth to remove dust and debris. Once you sand the metal, get rid of metal shavings and leftover paint by cleaning the area with acetone or nail polish remover.
Use Just the Right Amount
Many experienced auto body professionals will sometimes use layering techniques to fill in a large dent. This allows the filler to dry more quickly when large quantities are needed. However, you should not do this as an amateur. It can be extremely difficult to use the exact same amount of hardening compound each time you mix the filler. Hardening and drying times will vary depending on the amount of the compound you use. This will directly affect the general hardness of the filler, and layering the material can result in different filler hardnesses in the same area. The different layers of filler can then pull away from each other over time resulting in repair failure.
To make sure you mix enough filler the first time, use a paper towel or a piece of paper and scrunch it into a ball. Use enough of the paper to fill in the dent. Remove the paper wads and set them next to your work station. Spread the filler compound on your mixing table with your squeegee or plastic spreading card. Make sure that your pile of filler exceeds the size of the paper wads by about one-third. Squeeze a small amount of hardening compound into the filler and mix with your tool. Mix quickly until the filler is a consistent gray color. Scoop the filler up with the spreader and push it into the dent. You should have more than enough filler, so make sure the excess is spread over the area to elevate the filler above the body. This will give you some leeway as you sand the filler smooth.
If the damages are beyond your abilities, check out a collision repair shop for more information.