Paintless Dent RepairClick to enlarge picture

Paintless Dent Repair technicians use specialized tools to push the metal back into its original shape from behind the dent.

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Or will it?

Many dents and dings can now be repaired without a trace, when the work is performed by a skilled technician. And techniques have developed to the point that dings can be removed with the original paint in place.

Consumer Awareness Increasing
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 very few consumers are aware the process exists.

Specially fabricated tools and techniques for PDR have been developed to remove dents, often up to the size of a football, from almost any body panel of a vehicle. No sanding, body filler or repainting is necessary. In most cases, when the process is complete the dent is no longer visible.

Mike Cmelik, owner of Dent Craft, Inc. in Hayden, ID, told MSN Autos that PDR offers consumers convenience and quality while saving them time and money.

"The general public is not aware that paintless dent removal is even available, said Cmelik. After performing traditional auto body repair for 26 years, Cmelik's shop has focused exclusively on PDR for the past six years.

Consumers are learning about the PDR process from local dealerships and insurance companies, according to Cmelik. "In the last four to five years, insurance companies have become more aware and accepting of the PDR process, particularly to repair hail damage," Cmelik told MSN Autos.

Paintless Dent Repair on the Rise
PDR is becoming more widely used, because the size of dent that can be repaired has increased over the last few years.

Bill Buckley, one of the founders of Dent Wizard, which now offers PDR services through franchises in all major U.S. cities, told MSN Autos: "We have developed techniques to repair a dent the size of a football, and just a few years ago we were only repairing dents the size of a tennis ball."

The widespread use of high-strength metal and resilient paint finishes has allowed PDR to become a viable alternative to traditional body repair techniques. In fact, some insurance companies will even waive the deductible if PDR is chosen over more traditional techniques.

What Can Be Fixed?
Paintless dent repair is very effective for the following situations:

  • from very small to large dents;
  • generally 1990 model year and newer vehicles;
  • the paint has not been broken or cracked;
  • the dent is not near the edge of a panel;
  • the panel has not had previous body repair.

PDR is so effective for hail damage that some insurance companies use "hail teams" that "chase hail." These teams travel to an area that was hit by hail to repair vehicle damage using PDR techniques.

Admittedly, not all damage to the body of a vehicle can be repaired with PDR techniques, but if a dent cannot be removed completely, often the repair will make the damage almost unnoticeable.

Advantages of Paintless Dent Repair
A number of advantages for paintless dent repair include:

  • no repainting or body filler needed;
  • less expensive than traditional body repair;
  • same-day service in most cases;
  • no risk of paint overspray on other vehicle areas;
  • no risk of incorrect color matching;
  • vehicle retains original paint.

A vehicle with original paint retains a higher value than a repainted vehicle. Even if it is just a door or a fender, it is always preferable to maintain the original paint on a vehicle for as long as possible.

How Is It Done?
PDR technicians use specialized tools to push the metal back into its original shape from behind the dent. Depending on the location of the damage, the panel is accessed by removing trim pieces, through window openings or by removing inner panels.

Ryan Snider, who performs PDR for Barrier Motors in Bellevue, WA, told MSN Autos, "You need to be able to 'read the paint' to see where the dent ends and then you have to understand where the tip of the tool is. From that point it is 75 to 80 percent flat-out patience."

In a typical dent removal, the metal around the outside edge of the dent in slowly massaged back into its original position. The dent becomes progressively smaller as the technician works from the outside edge; eventually the dent becomes so small it blends with the texture of the paint and disappears completely.

Most repairs can be completed in one to two hours, and many PDR companies offer mobile service to save even more time.

Prices vary depending on the location and complexity of the repair. A general range would be $75-100 for a single dent, up to several hundred dollars to repair numerous dents on various body panels. This compares with a cost of several hundred dollars to repair and repaint a single dent using traditional auto body repair techniques.

Who Performs Paintless Dent Repair?
PDR is available from local franchises of national chains, independent shops, and some auto body repair shops or automobile dealers. A quick search of the local yellow pages or other business directories should yield several options.

As with any type of service, there can be a wide range of experience levels and work quality. So it's a good idea to check with reputable vehicle dealers—they'll know who does quality PDR work in the area.

And don't be afraid to ask for references before you have the work done, to ensure you receive the quality work you expect.

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