Just about all vehicles get a few dings and dents here and there. When it comes to minor body damage, there are several different options available for customers to choose from. Paintless dent repair (PDR) is a rather radical procedure when compared to traditional auto body repair. PDR is also much quicker and helps protect your vehicle against devaluation due to small dents and signs of repairs.
Wondering how PDR compares to traditional auto body repair? Here’s everything you need to know about the advantages of paintless dent repair and how it fares against traditional repair techniques.
PDR is the process of restoring the dented or damaged panels of your vehicle’s body back to factory finish. This is done by reshaping the sheet metal back to its factory-designed shape without causing any damage to the original paint.
PDR tools/dent tools such as LED reflection lights are used to help the technician see even the finest details of damage that has occurred to the body; along with any imperfections on the painted surface and the Orange Peel – texture on the painted surface of a vehicle.
For technicians performing PDR, being able to identify their tooling through the metal panel is essential. Specialized PDR lights cast a specific light contrast onto the panel of the vehicle; creating dark and bright spots that amplify the texture. Think of this process like using a zoom or magnification feature so that every tiny detail and imperfection on the body is easily identifiable.
With proper lighting, the technician can see through the panel and make the right pushes to restore the panel back to its original position. Moreover, it ensures that the repair is completed to the highest level of perfection and as if no damage ever occurred to the area.
Trained technicians use the PDR technique to remove small dents and dings from vehicle bodies with ease, as it helps avoid repainting the affected parts. It allows vehicle owners to elude expensive repairs such as replacing vehicle panels or even repainting the whole vehicle to match the repaired part. However, sharper dents may still require traditional auto body repair.
On the other hand, traditional auto body repair typically involves welding steel pins into the sheet metal and filling in the gaps with fillers (plastic or glass). Conventional repair, more often than not, requires spraying tons of layers of harmful chemicals, in efforts to bring the sheet metal closest to its factory-set shape, as you wait for weeks with your vehicle parked at the workshop.
Traditional auto body repair is a costlier method of repairing cars because it requires sanding, bonding, and painting of the repaired areas. It is, perhaps, better suited for significant repairs where paintless dent removal is not an option.
A traditional body repair and repaint costs an average of $3,000 and a few days at the body shop. A $750 PDR, on the other hand, provides durable and impressive results, with same-day repairs, and perfect blending with other panels; all without any records on Carfax.
Most car owners avoid getting their vehicle repaired due to the fear of being unable to afford their deductibles. Conversely, PDR offers a way to bring their car back to life without having to spend additional money on repairs already covered under their vehicle’s warranty.
In addition to PDR being a speedy and inexpensive method, it offers perfect restoration without rendering the manufacturer’s warranty void and comes strongly recommended by most insurance companies.
Consider this: You spend thousands of dollars to get your vehicle repaired only to get a poorly trained technician grind and sand off the perfect coat of paint from your vehicle and replace the superior quality exterior of your car with a poor quality material.
Unlike conventional dent repair, PDR is a less invasive process and requires an exceptionally skilled person to do it. Offering you a true fix, it maintains the factory paint and provides a fix that doesn’t cause you any stress about the products used by the technician.
When it comes to vehicle repair, a cheap fix can be spotted from miles away. As important as it is to only work with a qualified technician, it is equally critical to understand that PDR (even that performed by a low-qualified technician) will be far less visible than three different painted panels on your car’s body.
Promising a high-quality repair, PDR technicians work on only the affected area and simply massage the surface or pull the affected area back into place. A traditional repair, on the other hand, can require the removal and repaint of several panels. This adds to the overall difficulty of the repair since it can be extremely difficult to match the factory’s original color and orange peel.
Being able to keep the factory paint is every car owner’s biggest concern. Original paint applied to the vehicle by the manufacturer carries certain characteristics that are impossible to replicate. Baked at a certain temperature, and applied by machines to ensure a perfect coat of paint – there is nothing like the perfect seal of high standard paint that comes with a car.
Want to know what’s better than driving your family-owned 2012 Mercedes Cabriolet down the streets? Being able to tell your friends how your car still has the original paint.
While a bonded panel can make it impossible for the technician to repair without cracking the paint, a car that has undergone PDR can be repaired through the same technique again and again.
A dent that has been restored through PDR will never return. Bondo, on the other hand, can shrink over time, leaving you with signs of repairs. The only cases where a dent might return with PDR is when you hire an unprofessional technician that didn’t do the job right, or when a dent that has been stretched too far (and deep) was repaired, and later oil-canned when washing the car.
The methods used for paintless dent removal help repair several types of damage as long as the vehicle's surface paint is intact. Its primary use is in repairing minor dents, dings, and creases. It also depends on the location or part of the car where the dent is. The extent to which metal gets stretched during the damage can also be a factor that determines how well PDR works.
When it comes to vehicle repair options, traditional auto body repair is hardly ever the best option. While PDR has its limitations, it should always be the preferred option unless a qualified technician determines otherwise. PDR is more effective, is the least expensive option, saves much more time, is much better for the environment, and does a great job of maintaining the value of a vehicle as compared to traditional repair methods.
A professional will tell you that PDR is a less invasive process, however, depending upon the type of damage that is to be repaired, there are some risks that must be kept in mind. The severity of the damage is also another factor that comes into play.
For example, a very deeply stretched dent could cause the paint to crack. This risk increases when combined with additional factors including the use of paints with metallic flake or an older vehicle being exposed to harsh conditions, repainted panels and of course, inexperienced technicians.
Other risks are often associated with a method of repair called “glue pulling.” This method is effective in repairing areas where the technician doesn’t have direct access to the back side of the damage and any standardized tool can’t be utilized to push from behind. With glue pulling, the painted surface is pulled from the outside using special PDR tools such as slide hammers, mini lifters, and glue tabs.
The risk with this procedure is paint getting pulled off the metal panel since the process essentially involves pulling the metal back into position. This process also emphasizes the importance and overall strength of a factory paint job and highlights that a factory painted job is well bonded to the metal surface of the vehicle – almost like they are one.
It also explains how a repaint is never a good option since using the glue-pulling method on a repainted surface almost guarantees that the paint will get pulled off as well. To avoid such risks, it is recommended that you inform your PDR technician if your vehicle has been repainted in the past.
Additionally, there are some new methods being practiced in the PDR repair field, some of which can cause possible damage to your paint job. These methods are often limited to repairing minor and shallow dents and are not able to fix complex repair problems. They use magnetic heat induction systems to apply heat that cause the damaged area to rise.
If needed, tap/knock-down tools are used to flatten any unusually high spots. While these methods are great at treating minor damages, they come with the risk of burning the paint if the heat source is held in one position for an extended period of time. To minimize such risks, we recommend that you work with highly-qualified technicians. Such technicians will not only provide you with a high-quality repair but also inform you of any risk that can occur; even before starting the repair process.
Performing PDR on your vehicle is no joke. It is a highly skilled trade that requires years of mastery, thus making it obvious for you to leave this job to the professionals.
Even worse, the damage caused by improper practices can create a situation where the affected area becomes almost impossible to be repaired even by a professional PDR technician. This will leave you with just one option: the much dreaded traditional auto body repair.
Taking this into consideration, it is highly recommended to reach out to a professional and avoid purchasing cheap repair kits from marketplaces after watching the “how to fix dents” DIY videos.
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