Any kind of damage to our car is something that most of us dread. Dents in particular are ones to avoid because they are usually so glaringly obvious and unsightly and really take down the visual impact that our vehicle has. Even the fanciest car in the world would look like it had been taken down a peg or two after receiving a serious dent in the bumper, car door or other part of the exterior.
The most common causes of car dents include:
- Other cars (especially fast-opening car doors from closely parked cars)
- Hail storms
- Carelessly pushed shopping carts
- Falling tree branches and other debris
- Debris from the road
- Collisions and more
In today’s blog, we’re going to be talking about one of the most innovative and now commonly used methods of dent repair. It is known simply as paintless dent repair (PDR). Not every single type of car dent can be repaired with PDR, but a great deal can. What’s more, it’s fast, simple and affordable.
What is Paintless Dent Repair?
Paintless dent repair (PDR) refers to a process of quickly and relatively easily fixing a dent in a car without having to also recondition the paintwork in any way. It’s not just more convenient for customers, but in fact also a greener and more eco-friendly way to repair dents using fewer resources and not resorting to using paints and other chemicals.
The process involves four basic steps:
- Step 1: Assess the damage
- Step 2: Gain access to the dent
- Step 3: Study the dent to understand its structure
- Step 4: Choose an appropriate tool to reach the dent and gently apply pressure to smooth the dent back out
These are the basic steps, but exactly how you get the job done can vary greatly. The main issue is that virtually no two car dents are the same. The easiest kind to repair are round dents. The hardest type are those with sharp creases that are very hard to put right.
Imagine an aluminum can of soda that you crush with your hand from both sides. Once you’ve put that crease in the can, it would be very hard to restore the can to its original shape. So it is with creased dents on the surface of a vehicle.
A PDR “dent doctor” will make use of a range of tools that are perhaps not all originally designed for dent repair, but are extremely useful for the process. The majority of PDR has to happen from the inside of the car. That means locating an access point to the dent. It could be down the side of the door, through the hood, via the trunk or some other access point.
The unusual shape of some of the PDR tools (see more below) is conducive to better reaching the dent itself. If you use “cold glue” (see below) or other suction-style tools, then you can get at the dent from the exterior, which is easier. This kind of repair usually only works on simple round dents.
Dents that are located on the doors, front fenders, quarter panels, hood or roof can always be reached by a skilled practitioner of PDR.
Can All Dents Be Fixed Using PDR?
Damage that hasn’t damaged the paint already and located in the areas we have described above can invariably be repaired using PDR. The only times that it might not work is if the crease in the dent is too sharp. Even in those cases, it might just take a bit more time and effort. If the dent doesn’t respond to the PDR methods, however, then you might have to go down the route of traditional dent repair.
There are some materials that are not conducive to PDR as well, including plastic, fiberglass, carbon fiber and some other special composites. That’s because these don’t often dent in the same way that the regular metal surface of your car panels do. If they are damaged, it will often involve cracks and splits. The good news is that all of these materials are designed to be extra durable anyway, so denting and other damage to them is far less likely in the first place.
PDR is an interesting process because there isn’t a single tool that one uses to fix the car dents. A real “Dent Doctor” is one with an entire chest of tools that are designed to reach and repair dents in various locations. Below are some of the most popular choices used by paintless dent repair specialists:
A popular brand of this product is Glaxo, and it’s essentially a very adhesive kind of “putty” that attaches to a special pump/lever. You affix the cold glue into the dented area, work the pump and pull the cold glue from the surface of the paint. In doing so, the glue will pull the dent back out and restore the car surface to its original form. The one drawback of this tool is that when used without care it can damage the surface paint, after which it’s no longer PDR! Luckily, those instances are rare.
This is a solid, all-purpose metal bar with a hooked end that is great for reaching to smaller, sharper dents that need a more precise point to work them. It does this without being too sharp or abrasive to the underside of the car panels.
7/32 Ratchet Handles
These are another great choice when you need an unusual curve shape to reach awkward dents in tough-to-reach spots. They are precise, easy to handle and will help solve some of the most complex paintless dent repair jobs.
“Killer Whale Tail”
This one is a more solid, strong, wide-ended bar that’s useful on larger or longer dents. It’s a long, curved metal rod with a widened end in the shape of a whale tail. That makes the name appropriate.
This fearsome-sounding tool has a stronger, heavy-duty hook to get to large dents and work them with strength and precision.
RELATED: How To Change Your Key Fob Battery
A dent doctor might find themselves creating an entire tool chest full of interestingly shaped items perfect for working out dents. Every dent is quite different, which means a wide range of tools is needed to solve each and every case.
How Much Does Paintless Dent Repair Cost?
You should expect to pay between $75 and $125 for minor dent repair using PDR techniques. They should be completed within the same day that you drop the car off, but that might depend on how busy your technician is. If the dents are larger, then paying up to $400 or more is quite normal.
RELATED: How Much Does an Oil Change Cost?
In the end it depends on the number of dents you need repairing, their complexity, and the amount of time it takes the technician to access and apply the pressure needed to them.
Conclusion: Always Turn to Paintless Dent Repair First
Using PDR should always be the first thing you try when repairing dents on your car. Traditional dent repair is more costly and doesn’t always create desirable results in the long term. PDR can help retain the resale value of your car as it will look as good as new once it is restored. Explore PDR avenues before looking to alternatives.
Start the discussion!