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What is Paintless Dent removal?

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Updated 26 Nov 2019

Joel Ilton

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Hail damage, trolley dings and other marks are enough to make any car owner furious.

The pain of seeing dimples in the reflection of your paintwork because of someone else's carelessness, or from the elements, can be frustrating.

In the past, the only way of fixing these issues was using body filler and repainting the panels, but as technology has progressed, another safer option has come to light - paintless dent removal, or PDR for short.

Paintless dent removal began in the 1960s, and has really taken off in the last 15 years as more and more skilled technicians have moved from panel shops into this specialised field.

There are a number of different techniques used to remove dents from vehicles, starting with the use of specialised tools to massage the dents from the underside of the body panels.

Using a bright LED or fluro light to accurately see the damage, the technician uses metal rods and specially designed body picks to ‘push’ the metal back into shape.

This process is suitable for smaller dents in body panels, such as hail damage or small trolley marks, as the metal has not stretched too far and can be manipulated back into place.

Another option is using a special glue and tabs to ‘pull’ the metal back into place.

This is used on larger dents or when access to the back of the affected panel is not available.

Small hammers and mallets are then used to flatten any high spots created by the PDR tools (don’t freak out if you see them hammering your car, this is a normal practice!) to mimic the factory finish.

Depending on how bad the dent or damage is, the use of a heat gun to warm the paint may also be used. This is to ensure the paintwork doesn't crack or chip when manipulating the metal back into place.

Unfortunately, there may be some damage that cannot be repaired fully with PDR, but significant reduction may be possible.

Panel shops utilise PDR before carrying out any body work as it reduces the amount of body filler or replacement panels needed, keeping the integrity of the vehicle in place and reducing the turnaround times of repair work.

So before you head into your local body shop for repairs, think about PDR as your first option - chances are, any damage can be repaired at a fraction of the cost, and can be done quicker, getting your pride and joy looking good as new and back on the road sooner.

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Written By

Joel Ilton

Finding a passion for cars from a young age, Joel carried out work experience as a mechanic whilst at school before starting an apprenticeship after finishing year 12.

After almost 10 years on the tools and in customer service, he moved into the IT realm as a Data Analyst and In-House mechanic at AutoGuru.