How Does Paintless Dent Repair Work?

Paintless dent repair (PDR) repairs dents in your car’s body panels without the need to repaint the area that’s been repaired. It’s quick, inexpensive, and restores your car’s body to a like-new condition. PDR is great for circular dents that are caused by hail, bumps from other cars and objects, and just about any round dent that leaves the paint undamaged. 

So, how does paintless dent repair work? 

PDR works by popping out the dent with special tools and the skill of the technician doing the work. A dent in the metal of a car can’t escape the fact the metal has been stretched and is now weaker. However, PDR takes advantage of the fact that the paint isn’t damaged and can be pulled back into place. 

What is the difference between conventional repair and paintless dent repair?

PDR and conventional repair are two entirely different processes. PDR resolves minor dings and creases that are the result of hail, strikes by random objects, and people being careless with their doors and carts in parking lots. PDR won’t work on cars with crumple damage or severe dents that affect a large portion of the body panel.  

How PDR Works

When looking at how paintless dent repair works, it’s quickly apparent that it’s much less labor intensive than conventional body repair. PDR is designed to work on unsightly dents and keep your car looking good cosmetically. It’s a great solution for those times your car was struck by a small object, by another car or shopping cart in the parking lot. 

PDR can also resolve large indentations that are a few inches across, fix minor creases in the metal, and fix some types of complex dents. What it can’t do is restore a body panel that’s been damaged through high impact or has had its paint scratched or scraped down to the metal. 

The reason why PDR works comes down to the fact that metal has a type of memory. That is, once metal has been formed into its final shape, it will retain that shape until it’s been altered once again. Even though a dent alters that shape, the metal can be massaged back into place through PDR techniques. 

It’s important to note that the longer metal stays in an altered shape, the harder it is to return it to its original condition. That’s why it’s important to get your car to a PDR repair shop as quickly as possible. It takes less time to work the metal back into place and the results are much better. 

Comparing PDR to Conventional Dent Removal

PDR consists of using special tools that can pull out certain types of dents and push out others. The technique that’s called for depends on the presentation of the dent, but the fact remains that the dent is repaired without resorting to the use of body fillers, drilling holes to pull out dents, or the complete replacement of a body panel.

Repairing a small dent through traditional methods is overkill, especially in light of the fact that PDR can do the same job with less effort. A conventional repair for a minor dent with intact paint may require the use of a tool that damages the body in order to be effective. After the area of repair has been pulled back into place, the metal has to be filled in to prevent rust and cover up the technique used for repair. 

After the bodywork has been done, the area of repair has to be sanded, primed, then painted to match the rest of the vehicle’s color. This technique is much more labor intensive than PDR, and oftentimes unnecessary for dents with undamaged paint. 

Conventional dent removal is best reserved for large dents, scratches, and creases that aren’t easily addressed through PDR, or when the paint is damaged and requires correction. Extensive body damage from a collision requires the removal of the damaged panel and replacement with a brand new panel or part. 

How is paintless dent removal done?

PDR uses different techniques and approaches to fix body damage. A car that’s been damaged by hail undergoes a suction treatment that pulls the metal back into place while a crease requires the technician to get behind the body panel to address the dent. The type of PDR used on your car depends on the damage that needs repairing.

Suction tools are most commonly used on round dents as they are the most effective way to restore the panel to an undented state. The technician prepares the dent for repair, then applies a suction tool and leverage to get the dent to pop back into place. This method can be applied to round dents both small and large, but sometimes a large, round dent won’t respond to suction and needs a different approach.

Larger dents and creases require a more involved approach that includes the removal of internal body panels and multiple tools simultaneously. The technician needs to be able to access the reverse side of the dent, and sometimes there’s something in the way. Removing the obstruction, whether it’s an interior panel or hood liner, enables the technician to reach both sides of the dent and use the appropriate tools to push the dent back into place. 

How much does it cost to get a small dent out of a car?

The cost of getting a small dent out of a car through the PDR process is dependent on the amount of work required. A single 1/2-inch dent usually starts at $125 for PDR and averages $50 for each 1-inch dent pulled out after the initial dent. However, there are multiple factors that can add to the cost of PDR.

The type and size of the dent drive the final cost of the PDR. A small dent that’s about a half-inch or so in length is the most inexpensive repair. Meanwhile, a dent that’s larger and located in an area that needs the removal of body panels or interior pieces is going to be the most expensive. PDR can fix dents that are two to three feet long, but there’s more work involved in fixing these dents as well. 

There are various factors that go into the final cost of PDR including what’s being repaired, the type of metal, length, location, and complexity. You can get a better idea of how much a PDR job costs by coming in for an evaluation and cost estimate. 

Does PDR work on scratches?

Yes, PDR works on scratched dents provided the scratch hasn’t damaged the paint. Scratches that don’t go through the clear coat can be reversed and “closed” when the dent has been pulled out. The scratch is then gone over with a buffing tool to smooth out the clear coat, which also causes the scratch to disappear. The technician may apply matching paint over the scratch before buffing it out and minimizing the appearance of the scratch. 

Next Steps

Give the PDR shop a call to make an appointment with an estimator. They’ll take the time to explain the repair process, what type of repair your dent requires, and give you an idea of the cost and time needed to get it done so you can enjoy your car again. 

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