April 25, 2024

What Is Paintless Dent Repair & How Does It Work?

It’s almost impossible to avoid the dents and dings that come with driving a car. Fortunately, avoiding the high cost and long wait of a traditional dent repair is often possible.

Traditional dent repair may include ordering new car panels, pounding out dented areas until they are close to their original state, sanding, applying filler, matching paint, and more. Paintless dent repair (PDR) takes more finesse but much less time and fewer materials.

What is paintless dent repair? PDR is a slow and gentle process that pulls the damaged area back into its original shape without sanding, filler, or fresh paint. If your original paint is completely intact and the dent is a good candidate, paintless dent repair is far superior to an auto body and paint repair or panel replacement.

How Does Paintless Dent Repair Work?

The name might make it sound like PDR is a simple task. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a tool from the automotive supply store or a hack you saw online will give you the smooth repair you want. Actual paintless dent repair can be a work of art. Here’s a quick look at how paintless dent repair works.

1. Expert Analysis

The technician will carefully inspect the dented area to determine if it is a candidate for PDR. If it is, they will provide a detailed estimate and time frame for their work.

2. Prep Work for Dent Access

After assessing the damage and determining the best way to approach your paintless dent repair, the technician will need to remove any door panels, covers, and other items restricting access to the area of the dent.

3. Careful, Delicate PDR Work

In some cases, the technician will slowly nudge the dent back into shape with special tools. This process requires access to both the front and back of the panel simultaneously to prevent stretching the metal or causing more damage.

Other dents require a more elaborate “pulling” method of securing a bar on both sides of the dent that can gently be tightened over a series of days to reshape the area from the outside. 

Both methods require patience and a gentle hand to work with the metal, rather than trying to force it into the shape you want.

4. Reassembly

Once the metal has been thoroughly reshaped, the technician will replace and properly secure the panels, wiring, and other parts that they removed.

5. Buffing & Polishing

Finally, the technician may do a small amount of buffing to smooth and polish the factory coat.

What Can Paintless Dent Repair Fix?

Now for the hard part. Exactly what can paintless dent repair fix?

To understand how paintless dent repair works, it’s important to focus less on how the dent was made and more on what it looks like. You may be able to tell if it isn’t a good candidate by looking at the damage. But your highly trained CARSTAR technicians will perform an in-depth inspection to give you clear, honest answers on the best way to fix your specific dent. 

Among other things, they will look at:

  • Paint integrity
  • Size
  • Depth
  • Shape
  • Location
  • How long the dent has been there
  • The type of dented material

It Comes Down to Paint Condition

The most crucial factor is the condition of the paint. For PDR to be an option, there can’t be any cracking or trauma to the paint and factory coating. Automotive paint does have some amount of flex or give to it, but it is highly individual to the type and age of the car. Even a microscopic fracture will prevent PDR from being a long-term solution for your car’s body.

When PDR Doesn’t Work

It’s also important to note that this method only works for metal and alloy body panels. PDR is not right for the job if your fiberglass bumper has a ding.

The technicians will look at the size and depth of the damage. The metal panels on your car carry a memory of their manufactured shape. The PDR process is meant to remind the panels of that shape and use the memory to aid their return to normal. This is also why it’s important not to put off your repair. Waiting can create more damage and resistance to PDR techniques.

A dent with smooth edges and a regular shape without extremely deep gouges that stretch the paint too far will respond better to PDR techniques. If your ding has creases, an unpredictable pattern, or rough edges, it is doubtful that PDR can restore your vehicle’s body properly. 

Think of the difference between rolling up a sheet of paper and folding it in half. When you unroll your paper, it will often relax to its original flat shape or can be gently pressed flat again. If you fold that same piece of paper, you can open it up and lay it flat, but th

e line created by the fold will always be noticeable.

How Long Does Paintless Dent Repair Take?

How long paintless dent repair takes to complete varies greatly. Minor dents may be repaired in a single visit involving an hour or two of work. More complex cases take longer. 

Most dents will require a two- to three-day reshaping process for undetectable restoration. This still takes much less time and money than a standard dent repair.

Trust the Experts in Paintless Dent Repair at CARSTAR

At CARSTAR, we have the tools and knowledge to ensure all your auto body repair services are flawless. Let us help with your paintless dent repair so you can get back on the road in a fraction of the time a traditional dent repair might require.

Trust the experts for quality paintless dent repair at a CARSTAR location near you.