Paintless Dent Repair (PDR)

If you are not familiar with the paintless dent repair (PDR) process, it’s basically the use of gentle persuasion with specialized tools to remove dents. A technician basically massages your dented metal back into place.

Detailing a Porsche
This 1995 Porsche 993 was full of small dents. It was a display model in a car show. The guys who transported the car must have been gorillas, because the car had 11 dents when it was returned. This picture was taken after a visit to the PDR doctor and a day of detailing it with my Perfect Shine™ process. No one could find a trace of the dents. The guy was a master of his craft.

A good PDR technician (often called a “dent doctor”) can achieve an 80% to 99% repair on most small dents. It’s usually not possible to achieve 100% dent removal with PDR techniques, because metal stretches when it bends.

Please note that paintless dent repair is not a service for collision repair. For this you need a body shop or collision specialist. Don’t waste your time calling a dent doctor if you were in a collision.

What can be fixed with PDR dent removal? Just about any minor ding or dent, including dings from car doors, bashes from shopping carts, and damage from a hail storm. Although aggravating for someone who cares about their car’s appearance, small dent repairs and cosmetic blemishes such as these can be repaired in a matter of minutes.

There’s no need to go to a paint and body shop to have a small dent removed. In fact, most PDR specialists will come to you. Plus, the same people are generally skilled in various scratch repair and bumper repair processes.

PDR jobs require the technician to get behind the dent and massage the metal back into place using tools called dent rods. Used with skill, dent rods can remove damage from the size of a dime to 2 or 3 inches in diameter.

Do It Yourself PDR Kits

Several car enthusiasts have asked my opinion about DIY paintless dent repair kits. In the past, I was somewhat skeptical but recently I’ve discovered these kits have come a long way. I’ve personally used a few different PDR systems with great success.

If you are looking for a quality kit with many pieces for tackling all sorts of dents, I recommend HOTPDR’s Dent removal 76-piece tool kit. I can also confirm that Zafit’s 55 piece dent repair kit works very well and it is cheaper than the 76 piece tool set.

Just How Good is PDR

In many cases, after the repair is complete, there is little or no evidence that a dent ever existed. The typical tell-tale sign is a small black plug in a door end or door jamb, where the PDR technician must drill a hole to access the back side of the dent.

PDR is the least invasive way to repair a dent or ding. Unlike traditional body shop repairs, PDR does not compromise the vehicle in any way. For vehicles with custom paint jobs and for exotic cars, PDR is often the only way to retain the value of the car and maintain paint perfection.

When a Professional is Necessary

Certainly for usual dents or dings, I recommend calling a good PDR specialist. Keep in mind though that PDR isn’t always perfect. Oftentimes the paintless dent repair technician can remove the ding, but the paint may crack, or you may have a paint chip in the center of the ding.

Sometimes a paint booth ends up being the best solution. Visit a traditional paint and body shop as your last resort. I know that everyone hates dents so be sure to research all your options so you are looking your best on the road.

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