Paintless dent repair
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Paintless dent repair (PDR), also known as "Paintless Dent Removal", is a collection of techniques for removing minor dents and dings from the body of a motor vehicle. A wide range of damage can be repaired using PDR; however, usually if there is paint damage, PDR may be unsuitable.
The most common practical use for PDR is the repair of hail damage, door dings, minor creases, and sometimes minor plastic bumper indentations if accessible.
The techniques can also be applied to help prepare the damaged panel for refinishing in a body shop using conventional paint and body methods. Such applications are referred to as "push to paint" or "push for paint".
Limiting factors for a successful repair using PDR include the flexibility of the paint (most of today's refined automotive paint finishes allow for successful PDR), and the amount the metal has been stretched by the damage incurred (this varies depending on the thickness of the metal and the intensity of the impact that caused the dent). Generally speaking the more shallow the dent the greater the chance of paintless dent repair being a suitable option. Even dents several-inches in diameter can be repaired with this method, as long as the metal and paint are not stretched. Most experienced technicians can fix a shallow large dent or crease to an acceptable level but extremely sharp dents and creases may not qualify for PDR.
History of techniques
The technology of PDR has been around for many years, brought to the North American retail market from Europe by Dent Wizard International founder Natalio Balderrama in 1983 has become popularly adopted for such purposes as lease return, auction preparation, rental car maintenance, and increasingly, consumer vehicle repair. Consequently, consumer-level awareness of the techniques has increased in recent years.
Methods of repair
The most common methods of paintless dent repair utilize metal rods and body picks to push the dents out from the under side of the body panel. Additionally, glue and a specially designed tab may be used from the outside of the panel to pull the dents out. In either case, fine-tuning of the repair often involves "tapping" down the repair to remove small high spots, or shrink the metal, making the surface flat. Paintless Dent Repair may be used on both aluminum and steel panels. Quality technicians blend high spots to match the texture of the paint. (note: If a technician pushes too hard they will create severe high spots and the clear coat may split or crack.)
Experienced technicians will not crack or chip the paint 99% of the time, although if the painted surface is not in good condition or the metal is too cold it can crack and even the very best tech can not stop this from happening.
When damage is too great and body filler is necessary a body shop may request a technician to do something called "push to paint", which involves pushing a majority of the metal up because the body shop is going to repaint those panels anyway, this saves time and money.
Fluorescent or LED lighting, or in some cases a reflection board, is used to see the deformation of the dent and to aid the technician in locating the tip of the tool being used to push the metal up. This is an important aspect of the repair process, without a reflection such as a light or board to read the dent, the fine detail of the process is unseen. The technician would not be able to locate their tool specifically and remove the damage accurately without a proper reflection. The process of Paintless Dent Repair requires a technician to push on exact locations of metal to a precise height which can only be witnessed with use of a PDR reading instrument such as a Paintless Dent Repair reflector board or Paintless Dent Repair light.
Paintless dent removal takes years to learn; it is often referred to as an "art" but is more hand eye coordination than anything else. The ability to successfully remove dents and dings is learned through trial and error with some common know how. An untrained individual can actually damage a dent if attempting a repair without the correct skills and knowledge.
- "Paintless Dent Repair - Skilled technicians remove dents without repainting.". MSN Autos. Retrieved 2011-07-14.