Can Paintless Dent Repair Save Your Vehicle’s Value? : There’s been a minor fender bender? Paintless dent repair may be the answer. Invented by a Mercedes technician, the technique involves the use of pressure, adhesives, and specialized knowledge to push out the metal without damaging the paint or clear coat. The technique has the benefits of not only being less expensive, but also more environmentally friendly than methods requiring noxious fillers and extensive repainting work. With PDR, the work is accomplished more quickly, getting the owner back on the road sooner.
In 1960, Oskar Flaig, a staff member working for Mercedes at the International Car Show in New York City, accidentally discovered the technique. The vehicles on display were subjected to the attentions of a sometimes overzealous public. It was Oskar’s job to ensure the cars were returned to pristine condition each evening in preparation for the next day’s show. In an effort to save on filling material, which takes time to dry, Oskar used a hammer handle to press out a small dent in one of the cars. The result was a perfect repair, with no need for finishing work. Over time, the technique was adopted and perfected by mechanics and technicians.
Today’s paintless dent repair is carried out by experienced body technicians who use a variety of tools to remove damage and restore a vehicle to its former condition. Any dent that can be pulled out without stretching the metal or the clear coat is a good candidate. A qualified technician can examine the damage and determine whether PDR is the right choice for repair. Wide, shallow impressions are often easily removed. Creases or sharp folds in the metal may require more extensive techniques.
When a car is brought in for repair, the technician evaluates the damage, taking note of the extent of deformation in the metal and the location of the indentation. First, a path must be created to the underside of the damaged part. Depending on the location, the panel may be removed entirely, making it easier for the technician to access the damage from underneath. Using specialized tools and an instrument that measures the surface, the technician carefully manipulates the metal, pushing it back into place. Experienced technicians are able to manipulate the metal just enough to restore the surface without creating high or low spots or leaving a “rippled” look. Heat may be applied to facilitate the movement of the metal and to prevent cracking of the surface coating.
Paintless dent repair may be used when repairing more serious damage as well. Returning the metal to as close to the original shape as possible reduces the need for filler and repainting, which cost more in time and materials. Finishing techniques may include light sanding or polishing to restore the original finish. Whether the damage is small or large, PDR may be the right solution. It’s important to speak with a qualified technician who can asses the damage and help determine the best way to restore a vehicle to pristine condition.