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History and Correct Uses of Body Filler (Bondo)

Posted by Ashley Schwab on

Automotive plastic body filler, often times called "Bondo," is used quite frequently for automotive repairs and restorations. Bondo has gotten a bad rep due to misuse and improper applications in the past and present. Anyone that restores old cars has seen body filler used on damaged bodywork improperly, whether someone trying to get a car straight quickly or simply misusing Bondo on large areas or to hide rust. 

However, its time to put that reputation to rest! Plastic body filler is a superior option when used as intended. Professional, high quality shops use body filler on custom cars and restorations continuously. Even as a DIY'er, using body filler on your every day vehicle or project car can be a fantastic option, so long as body filler is used correctly. 

In fact, lightweight polyester-based plastic body filler was created in the '50s as an alternative to lead body solder. At this time, lead body solder began being prohibited. Difficult to work with and a dangerous medium, the process of lead was quite tedious, involving heat shrinking metal, hammering out the dent, and melting lead over the damaged area. Even then, body shops weren't immediately thrilled about the idea of plastic body filler, but as time went on, people began to realize that the lightweight, easy to use plastic body filler was a better alternative to lead. 

Today lead is still used on specific applications, but plastic body filler revolutionized body repairs, specifically for small dings, dents, and warped areas. However, it's important to remember that plastic body filler must be used as intended to work properly:

  • Designed for use on small areas, such as dings or holes, and to smooth warped panels.
  • Body filler was not designed for use on large dents, rust, and large body damage.
  • Do not use on full gas tanks or anywhere that is hot. Bondo is only resistant to fuel after it has been cured.
  • Bondo is not for rust repairs. Do not slather Bondo over rust and expect it to prevent further rusting or to adhere. 


If you need to fill that small hole or smooth out that ding or warp, Bondo is the product for the job. Check out's collection of Bondo products:

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