The pros would probably cheekily subtitle this page, "The Do-it-yourself Approach." And it's true, while there are a lot of ways to attempt paintless dent repair on your own, and even though the various kits and tools look fairly simple, it's not nearly as easy as the infomercials would have you believe.
First, you have to pick a proper tool kit. And that's not easy for a user who has little clue what's going on. Some of them are cheap -- low prices should raise red flags. Others are so expensive (three-figures or more) that they're probably right up there with the cost of a decent professional repair (although, to be fair, if you buy the kit you can perform multiple repairs).
Many of the high-end, expensive tools are intended to be used along the inside of the panel, much like a pro would do. (Gaining access to the inside of body panels can be a chore, though, and often involves careful removal of multiple interior trim pieces.) Alternatives (which tend to be the less expensive kits) flaunt the conventional wisdom that small dents should be massaged back out from behind the painted surface. These options instruct the user to glue a tool to the dented surface and then twist or pull on the tool to pop it out. True, you can go buy the same tools as a pro, but it takes a lot of skill and experience to use them properly.
So, we've explained what the procedure looks like -- assuming it was done properly. And as you could probably guess there are a lot of ways an amateur or first-timer can get it wrong. It's different than most other car repairs because it's not about mechanical prowess; it's more about control and the ability to maintain a steady hand and a gentle pace. You can't rush it. The problem is, once a sheet metal repair starts to go awry, you're usually much, much worse off than if you'd just left it alone. Metal holds its shape, but only to a certain point.
Let's say you get a dent in the hood -- nothing too drastic, just a shallow, even dent with no sharp creases in an area that's pretty easy to reach. You think it'll be easy to pop it out on your own, so you begin to massage the underside while holding your shaping tool in place. You've made good progress so far, and a casual observer wouldn't even notice the flawed area. But it's not exactly perfect, and since it's been fairly easy to this point, you decide to keep massaging the area to make it flawless. After a few more minutes of massaging, you realize that you've pushed it just a little too far. And now you've got this flabby area on the hood where you stretched out the metal. And there's no easy way to shrink it back down. Keep going and it'll stretch even more. Lesson learned.
A good paintless dent repair might look perfect, or close to it,but the metal underneath that shiny paint is still damaged. It's thinned out and its structure has been weakened. But as long as the paint is still there and it's not immediately obvious, that's probably good enough. After all, it's not a safety concern or anything. Just remember: Sometimes it really pays to hire a pro.
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Author's Note: How Paintless Dent Removal Works
To DIY or not to DIY? I've never tried to use an at-home paintless dent removal kit to bang one out myself; however, I have owned a car that I had completely repainted because paintless dent removal wasn't an option. And it's a pain in the butt. And it's expensive. And I've also made some bad calls in terms of judging what I can handle myself ... and what I'd just make worse. That said, I've never bought a product from an infomercial to attempt a car repair.
In other words, this article certainly isn't intended to serve as advice for whether or not you should attempt to repair dings and dents in your own garage. I'd normally suggest practicing a new procedure ... just try it out on a piece of scrap sheet metal first, of course.
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Discover the simple way to fix dings and dents that your collision shop won’t tell you about.
Got a nasty dent or an ugly ding on your shiny new car? Or even worse, lots of them as a result of hail damage?
You’re not alone. Between unpredictable weather and crowded parking lots, Colorado Springs and Denver seem to be magnets for dents, dings and hail damage.
Want to get your car looking like new again?
You have two choices:
-Take the car to a body shop and have damage filled and refinished
– Paintless Dent Removal facility and have the dent magically removed by a certified PDR technician
Which should you choose?
It really depends on how bad the damage is. For heavy damage where the paint is broken, a body shop might be your only choice.
But damage like a door ding, a basketball sized dent, or hail damage to your car can likely be removed using Paintless Dent Removal.
If you’re choosing a body shop then you should be prepared to leave your car for weeks or more.
Body Shop Repair
Here’s how the process works:
First, the body shop technician removes the original paint from the area to be repaired.
Then, a putty-like filler is applied to the damaged area which then has to dry and harden, usually overnight.
Next, the filler is sanded and a coat of primer is applied which is then followed by another round of drying.
Then, a coat of paint is applied which hopefully matches the original paint on your car.
After that a clear coat goes on over the paint.
Finally, your car is ready to be cleaned and polished before being returned to you.
The problem with this is that it’s just too time consuming and expensive.
hail damage repair
Paintless Dent Repair
Another way to fix dents, dings and hail damage is with Paintless Dent Removal. It’s a process for removing small (and also large) dents and dings with a set of very precise tools in the hands of a specially trained and talented PDR technician.
Using these special tools the technician attacks the dent from the inside out. These magical precise tools allow the technician to reach behind fenders, inside doors and between body panels to gently push away the dent and return the metal to its original shape.
With PDR, the paint remains perfect and no refinishing is required.
And the repair is undetectable in almost every case.
In most cases, Paintless Dent Removal can be done in a fraction of the time in comparison to a collision body repair time.
Even with that said, Paintless Dent Removal is not the best removal for every dent and every situation. If you’re faced with a choice and Paintless Dent Removal seems like it may be an option here are a few reasons to consider it.
Top Reasons to Use PDR:
Maintain the original factory paint. Your car will never have better quality paint than the original paint it came from the factory with. No matter how good the body shop painter is he will never be able to match the high-tech paint system that was used at the factory.
Save time. PDR usually takes a fraction of the time that takes place at a body shop.
Preserve resale value. Paint repairs are easily detectable when it comes time to sell or trade your car. Buyers often assume the damage was much worse than it really was.
Avoid negative CARFAX history reports. Body shop repairs may show up on your car’s CARFAX report.
Save money. This may be you having a rental for a few days instead of a few weeks.
Better quality repair. With PDR there is no need to worry about paint mismatching or overspray.
Environmentally safe. With PDR there is no harmful paint dust and no harmful chemicals or solvents used.
Approved by auto manufacturers and insurance companies.
PDR might seem like the perfect solution. But the thing is, it won’t work in every case.
Here’s how to tell if your car’s dent is a good candidate for Paintless Dent Removal.
Is the paint cracked or chipped?
This is most often the only item that holds paintless dent removal back.
But if you have a dent that looks like someone opened a car door into your car or drove a grocery cart into the side of it, or even a larger dent that looks like a softball landed on the hood (but the paint is not broken) then you may be a great candidate for PDR.
Most hail damage can be fixed with the Paintless Dent Removal method.
Because hail damage is considered an act of nature most insurance plans cover 100% of the cost of PDR (less your normal deductible).
Before going to a dealership or a repair shop, stop by Ding Magic and see how to get your car repaired with no money out of pocket all while making your car look new again.