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Getting a dent in your car is never any fun. Not only does it make your car look bad, but it can be expensive to repair. But some DIYers have taken to a toilet plunger to remove a dent without visiting the body shop. However, there is more to this viral trend than meets the eye. So can you use a plunger to pull a car dent in your driveway? The answer is yes, but it’s more complex than that.

There’s no simple answer

For older and cheaper cars made from a different material than they are today, a plunger works well to pull out a dent. The physical properties of steel make them able to reform back into their molded shape, so essentially you could use the suction from the toilet plunger to pull the metal back to its original form.

A deep car dent, like on this Jaguar XJR, would be hard to pull with a plunger.
A car with a large dent in the back | Wiktor Szymanowicz via Getty Images

There are a lot of problems using a plunger for a car dent

As you can imagine, it doesn’t work exactly how you might think. Otherwise, you’d see a toilet plunger in every repair shop. In some cases, the suction might do enough to decrease the damage. But it isn’t a foolproof system, either. It could be difficult depending on where the dent was on the body panel, or how large it is. Overall the method isn’t very useful.

In addition, many dents stretch the metal on the panel. So even if you can pull a car dent with a plunger, there will still be visible damage left behind. Plus, creating a seal good enough to pull a car dent is no simple task in the first place.

Numerous content creators have tried their versions of the method. Various videos use everything from Vaseline to hot water to create a better seal for the suction. There are a lot of factors that play into the ability to pull a dent using a toilet plunger successfully, and if you want to give this method a shot, just know it may not be as easy as it looks on TikTok.

Today’s composite cars make simply pulling dents harder

Cars today still have a lot of metal components, but the use of composites like carbon fiber and fiberglass, as well as some plastics, are becoming more and more common. These materials are sturdy and absorb kinetic energy from accidents more efficiently than steel. But unlike steel, composites aren’t as generous when it comes to reforming back to their original shape.


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So the answer sounds like a no, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t success stories out there. Some people even suggest using a mixture of boiling water and a plunger, if not just a toilet plunger, by itself to remove a dent. Under the right conditions, a plunger can help to repair a dent, but chances are you’re better off leaving it in the bathroom.