PDR, a better repair!
First let me start by explaining what PDR or Paintless Dent Removal is for those of you out there that have never heard the term. PDR is conceptually simple, put simple it is the process of removing damage from an automotive body panel without the need for sanding, grinding, body-fillers or painting (hence the term Paintless).
The process of removing damage to vehicles without then need for painting is actually not new at all, though industry folk lore varies from tale to tale, Mercedes Benz allegedly began having “metal-men” work small imperfections in panels while still on the assembly line as long ago as the 1950’s. Today’s PDR technicians have adapted various techniques for removing dings and dents from vehicles without the need for fillers and re-painting almost as an art form. Better tools, training and advances in automotive clear coat durability have led to miraculous results for even large dents.
Why can’t I just use a dent popper like the ones you see on TV?
Unfortunately the dent poppers, suction cups and (this one makes me chuckle) dry ice simply don’t work. First let’s explore the “screw out dent poppers”. You’ve probably seen the late night Ding King infomercials showing you how easy it is to just glue on the tab, place the lifter on the tab and turn. POP! the dent’s gone! right? Wrong! the commercial never shows the large high spot, low spot still left or heaven forbid the high spot surrounding a low, or as i like to call them a “volcano”. The main reason this is a gimmick, missing tools and knowledge. Professional PDR technicians actually do use a method of removing some select dents from the front of a panel with tabs, special adhesives and a lifting apparatus.
The main difference? a technicians main assets are their eyes, reflective source, and hand-eye-coordination. a professional technician assesses the dent with a reflective source, be it a light, line board or reflective pole, and targets the “dead-center” of the dent. Once located the technician places a tab directly at this zero point and then uses a lifting device to bring the depressed metal as close to level as possible in one pull. Once the pull has been made the technician removes the tab and assesses the area to determine the next course of action. Usually, the area will require some work with a tap down device to level any areas that were pulled higher than level. This process may go on for several pulls and taps until the area is as close to level as possible. The do-it-yourself-er doesn’t get a reflective source, tap down or training in how to use each of these items and more often than not makes the once small door ding a variable mess when finally deciding to throw in the towel. The suction cup is simply ineffective.
Damage very large and gradual may actually move with a strong enough suction and it may actually look somewhat better than the original dent, but it effectively “locks” the metal into place and the distortions or buckles around the area that have not been properly removed before addressing the main low areas of the dent are now cementing everything into place. The remaining topic (and my favorite) dry ice and a hair dryer seems to get rave reviews on you-tube and the like. Unfortunately this once again doesn’t address the buckles and only sometimes removes a portion of the dent.
The main down side to this method is the process it uses. Dry ice or the “computer duster” propellant will rapidly cool the substrate and paint. The hair dryer is then used to rapidly bring the panel temp. above 150 degrees F. The rapid contraction and subsequent expansion of the substrate is what actually makes the dent pop but what’s happening on a much smaller level is paint damage. The paint is almost always micro-fractured which leads to paint cracking, peeling and corrosion. Much of this damage will not be seen for several months down the road when the elements have had time to breach the fractures and make them worse.
One PDR company is as good as another, Right?
All dent companies are not created equal and actually let me expand on that by saying all pdr technicians are not created equally. One of the main reasons for the boom in pdr company growth is the “claim to fame” or “gold rush” mentality. We’ve all seen the commercials for get rich quick schemes. Some very talented technicians have and still do make a very good living repairing dents. Most earn moderate incomes that do not carry bragging rights though. Every Tom, Dick and Harry tired of their 9-5 job learns about the alleged 6 figure income made by pdr technicians and heads out for two weeks of training at a mis-information factory such as Ding King or Right Look and thinks they will set the world on fire directly thereafter. In reality they spend two (or even one) weeks learning little about real world dents and almost always pick up bad habits that will doom them from ever being able to repair a dent properly.
The “Mills”,as they are affectionately referred to in the industry, also sell the aspiring technician a “package” deal complete with every tool needed to repair any dent out there. Unfortunately what they are actually getting is the cheapest set of Chinese made coat hangers good money can buy. The aspiring technician returns home after training and (after being told they are ready) begins selling their service. The problem being they often cannot see the dent properly to repair it and do not have the acquired skill set to fix the smallest of dings. The end result is a moderate improvement with high spots throughout the dent and even cracked paint. The technician either continues on frustrated, trying to do better (or not if they don’t care enough about the quality) or will lower prices justifying to themselves that a lower quality repair is still worth something.
And more still will throw in the towel all together after making such a bad name for themselves that they can no longer find work. This surge of low end “technicians” has led to a misconception that PDR is an inferior repair process as compared to a body shop. In fact, this conception is true when it pertains to someone performing such gross butchery. The general rule of thumb for a PROFESSIONAL Paintless Dent Repair is that it should cost between 1/2 to 1/3 that of a conventional body shop repair. Professional technicians have spend many hundreds, if not thousands, of hours perfecting their craft and don’t sell themselves short. If you find yourself shopping for the best deal (lets face it, in this economy who doesn’t) be leery of a rock bottom price. More often than not you WILL get what you pay for and will end up wishing you had paid a little more when rust starts to appear where the dent was, due to the hack cracking your vehicles paint!
To learn more about PDR and find the answers to common PDR questions visit our site http://dentsvanish.com