Stainless steel trim is common on older cars. Being on the road can be tough on your trim and you may find that you have dents in areas like the trim around your windows. You can remove these dents from your stainless steel trim yourself. Consult your automotive repair manual for full details or follow these simple steps:
Step One: Prepare the piece of trim by taking a black felt tip marker and coloring over the dented area. Once complete, take a fine mill bastard file and gently rasp it over the colored area. This will reveal the dented areas as the ink on the high areas will be stripped away. Remember to be gentle, though, as you do not want deep scratches in your trim.
Step Two: Now that you know where your dents are you can begin to work them out. Flip the trim over and, using a metal punch, gently push on the dent in several areas. Do not use a lot of pressure or beat on the trim. Repeat this process, checking with the file on the side with the ink until the dent is completely gone. This step takes time and patience. You may want to use your marker to test for new dents in the area as well.
Step Three: After completing step two, your dents should now be flush. You can test this by repeating step one. Once you are sure your trim is dent free, you still need to do some cleanup work to get your trim looking shiny and new. The first thing you need to do is even out some of the file markings that you left while testing for your dents. You can do this by rasping the file back and forth across the scratched area. You should change directions occasionally, to make a cross hatch. This will prevent you from scratching the metal too deeply.
Step Four: Once you are satisfied that your surface is even, you will need to smooth the scratches out of the metal. You can do this by taking a piece of wet 220 grit sandpaper and gently smoothing the scratches out of the metal. This step takes a lot of time and patience but the efforts are well worth it. Next, you will need to take this smoothing process to an even greater level. Repeat the process with the sandpaper but use a wet 400 grit sandpaper to smooth out the scratches created with the 400 grit. Be careful while using the sandpaper. Your goal is to remove the scratches so you don’t want to press too hard.
Once you have completed the four steps above, you’ll need to have the metal polished to regain its original shine. If you have a polishing/buffing wheel, you can complete this step yourself. However, this step can be tricky so you may want to find a professional that can help you buff and shine your trim for a reasonable price. You can consult your electronic auto repair manual for more information about the polishing step.
Removing small dents from your stainless steel trim can easily be accomplished by a do-it-yourselfer with a little time and patience.