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What is Paintless Dent Repair?

It’s one of the oldest and most frustrating problems a car owner can face: A small dent or scratch requires you to get a whole new paint job. Paint jobs aren’t exactly cheap, and it feels silly to repaint the whole thing over one scratch. If you’ve thought this, you might be glad to know that your instincts were right. It is more than possible to repair a dent without damaging the paint. Not surprisingly, this process is referred to as “paintless dent repair,” or sometimes just “PDR.”


How Does PDR Work?

Paintless dent repair works by using movement and pressure to push the dent outward. If this is done carefully, and if the paint is not damaged in the collision itself, the dent can be neatly popped out. In many cases, you won’t even be able to tell that any damage was done.

There are a wide variety of special tools that PDR specialists use to effect these sorts of repairs. This is very much a specialized skill that requires training and experience, so you can’t expect the same level of quality from a DIY job. In most cases, PDR works by applying outward pressure.

There are two ways to apply this pressure and pop the dent away. As common sense might tell you, you can either push from the inside or pull from the outside. All methods of PDR fall into one of these two categories.
Pulling From The Outside

As an example of pull-method dent removal, a person might use a little bit of hot glue to affix a small handle-like tab to the area where the dent is located. Obviously, you have to be careful not to use an adhesive that will damage the paint, so hot glue is the most common choice.

An even better method is to use a powerful suction cup. There are numerous devices that use suction cups combined with plates and/or rods. Because they do not use any sort of adhesive, you don’t have to worry about scraping away any residue. That’s good because you can easily scratch your finish while scraping away the hot glue if you aren’t careful.

This method seems to be the best choice for DIY users. The pull method requires less skill and knowledge to do it right. You will have to buy some sort of pulling device, but these are usually pretty easy to use. Many of them resemble stapleguns or other hand-held tools, and there are many different varieties. Still, you should be fine as long as you follow the instructions.


Pushing From The Inside

This method seems to be the one preferred by professionals. You definitely need to have a little more expertise to do it this way, but it poses a lot less risk of collateral damage. This method usually involves the use of long probes that are inserted into small gaps in the vehicle body. By applying the right leverage in the right place, they pop the dent outward without ever touching the paint job.

For example, you might insert one of these dent-removal tools into the gap between the window and the door. You will have to roll down the window and gently peel back the rubber seal around the base of the window. You might also remove a tail-light so that you can insert the tool through the gap and gain access to the rear panel.


Is PDR Always Possible?

Obviously, there are times when this type of repair cannot be done. If the paint was damaged in the collision itself, PDR methods will not reverse that damage. Of course, such methods can still be helpful for removing the dents, but you will still need to repaint the vehicle.

Several factors will determine whether or not paintless dent repair is possible. These include:

  • The flexibility of your vehicles’ paint
  • The size and severity of the dent
  • The angle and depth of the dent
  • The thickness of the metal surface

Most automotive paint is flexible enough for PDR, but older vehicles with older paint jobs might have some issues. As for size and severity, PDR doesn’t work on massive dents. For the most part, its techniques are meant to deal with relatively small dents. Shallow dents are also better candidates for PDR, as there is less stretching and deformation of the metal involved. Finally, the thickness of the metal will make the dent easier (or more difficult) to “pop” back into place.

It should be noted that you can spot-paint a vehicle, doing just one spot. It often won’t come out perfect, but it can be very close if you choose the right paint and blend the edges well. Of course, that’s a separate topic, but it’s a good thing to know.



At Elmer’s auto body, we specialize in many different techniques. Luckily for you, paintless dent repair is one of them. While these methods are mainly suited for minor damage, you’d be surprised at what a professional can do with them. When it comes to paintless dent repair cost shouldn’t be an issue, as these jobs can normally be completed with minimal time, trouble, and expense. That’s the difference you get when you call the best.

With over 70 years of experience under our belt, you should expect nothing less than the best. If you have a dent that needs to be pulled, and you want it done in the most effective and efficient manner, fill out our easy online contact form or call one of our three convenient locations and ask us: Where can I get paintless dent repair near me?

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