Utilizing the latest technology and tools, skilled metal “artisans” can quickly remove many dents on late-model vehicles-without repainting, all at a fraction of the cost of traditional body repair. It strikes a deep fear in all new car owners-the first dent. NO matter how it happens, or where you park, the first dent can make a person feel that their car will never be the same again. Or will it? Many dents can now be removed without a trace, providing the work is performed by a skilled technician with proper equipment.
Ernie Escobedo, an instructor at the Superior Auto Institute, a school for Paintless Dent Repair training explains; “The PDR technique has developed to the point that dings can be removed with the original paint completely intact. In cold weather dent repair, heat guns are used to keep the paint from cracking when working deep or sharp dents. New tool designs and tips provide for better access eliminating the need for panel access drilling and inner panel e-coat scratching.”
Consumer Awareness Growing
Paintless dent removal (PDR) has become widely used over the past decade by car dealers, rental agencies and auctions to prepare vehicles for resale, yet few consumers are barely aware the process exists. Specially fabricated tools and “artisan level” techniques for PDR have evolved to remove dents, often up to the size of a football, from any body panel of a vehicle. Traditional body shop techniques need not apply here- no sanding, body filler or repainting is necessary. In most cases, when the process is concluded the dent is no longer visible.
PDR is becoming more widely used, largely because the size of dent that can be repaired has increased over the last few years. Brian Jump, the founder of Superior Dent Removal, which now offers PDR, hail and retail service in many U.S. cities, and abroad explains: “We have developed specific techniques and equipment to repair a dent the size of a football, and just a few years ago we were only repairing dents the size of a baseball.” The widespread use of resilient metal and base/clear coat paint finishes has allowed PDR to become a viable alternative to traditional body repair techniques. So much so, that some insurance companies will even waive the deductible if PDR is chosen over more traditional techniques.
What is PDR Material?
Paintless dent repair is very effective for the following: very small to large dents; generally, 1985 model year and newer vehicles; paint has not broken or cracked; the dent is not on the edge of a panel; the panel has not had previous body filler/repair. PDR is so effective for hail damage that most insurance companies use “hail teams” that “chase hail storms.” These teams travel to an area that was hit by hail to repair vehicle damage using PDR techniques. Insurance companies love it because it saves them money and make customers happy through convenience and cost savings passed back to the consumer in the form of lower rates”. Admittedly, not all damage to a vehicle can be repaired with PDR techniques, such as metal or plastic bumpers, collision sized damage, etc.
How Is the PDR Process Done?
PDR technicians use specialized tools to massage the metal back into its original form from behind the dent. Depending on the location of the damage, the panel is accessed through window openings or through other access openings. Rarely is an interior panel removed for access, which aides the speed of the process. Paul Turton, who performs PDR for Dent Devils of London, England, explains, “You need to be able to ‘read the reflection’ to see where the dent ends and then you have to comprehend where the tip of the tool is. From there it is skill and patience.” In a typical dent removal, the metal is slowly massaged back into its original position slowly with minute sections being worked at a time. The dent becomes progressively smaller as the technician works to shrink it down bit by bit; eventually the dent becomes so small it blends with the surface texture of the paint and disappears completely. Most repairs can be completed in under an hour, and many PDR companies offer mobile service to save even more time. Pricing varies depending on the vehicle model, location and complexity of the repair. A general range would be $85-125 for a single dent, up to several hundred dollars to remove numerous dents on various body panels. This compares with a cost of $300+ to repair and repaint a single dent using traditional auto body repair practices.
Who offer Paintless Dent Repair?
PDR is available from local companies, franchises, and independent companies. A simple search on the web or local yellow pages or other business directories usually will produce several options.