Dry Ice Dent Repair Fact or Fiction


Rob McDowell, the PDR Professor, gives the explanation of the “dry ice” dent repair or technically called “Heat Shrinking Dent Removal Process” in his advanced paintless dent repair class.

The Recon Master School of Dents teach all aspects of paintless dent repair and removal. Part of the instruction is the dynamics of how metal must be put back in place once a dent has been created. Theoretical knowledge of metal dynamics is taught and put into practice in class in various ways.

A method that is often discussed and debated is the “Dry Ice Dent Removal” process. Yes, the principle behind using dry ice is valid on a very select type of dent. It is not recommended in today’s dent repair process. I will share what can be used safely today. Although, I will brief the methodology, it is does not cover the full aspect of the topic that would be covered in the “Heat Shrinking” section in the School of Dents PERFECT PDR Advanced Class.

Why the dry Ice dent repair method does not work like the past is due is to the change in how metal was formed in the early 1980’s. The metal was rolled thicker in the past and that 1980’s change made the metal thinner. Thinner metal is more difficult to work with traditional body repair methods from the past. No longer can a body shop technician use past heating and cooling processes “Dry Ice” to remove or reduce dents. But, that being said, there are a few dents that can be removed with a heating and cooling process. I have posted a video downloaded from Youtube showing this process well. But let me explain before you think that this process will do it all.

This process is called Heat Shrinking. It works like this. You heat the metal to get the molecules of the dent moving. This starts the metal expanding and “Removing” the dent. Then, apply cold “Dry Ice” and this contracts the molecules making the metal “Jump” and shock the dent out. It’s more theoretical than that, but you get the meaning. It works on .0001% of the dents.

When using heat shrinking method, do NOT use dry ice. Dry ice is very cold and will damage the finish on your car. Also, you will talk to some old timers or see videos using torches to apply heat. That is more hazardous to your finish than dry ice. Please don’t use extreme heat like that either.

There is a better method. Use a heat gun or hair dryer to heat the panel to where you can still touch the finish. Any hotter and the finish will burn. Then use a can of office computer keyboard air duster to apply cold. Hold the can upside down so the refrigerant will come out in liquid form. This will not harm the finish.

This process of heat and cool should work on the correct kind of dent. It does not work on most dents. The process is valid but only in certain cases like shallow wide dents out in the panel open area. This is a professional process and the likelihood of the vehicle’s finish being damage is high. Again, this topic is explained in depth in class.

Dry Ice, No! Heat Shrinking, Yes!